I was watching a video about Proto-Indo-European culture by Xidnaf at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErXa5PyHj4I. It said that Proto-Indo-Europeans probably had most or all of these philosophical characteristics:

  1. They believed in a patriarchy which was established by a god whose name means "Sky Father".
  2. Humans are mortal. This is shown by the word man or human coming from the word dirt in many IE languages, including Latin.
  3. Gift giving and taking were seen as part of the same action.

So, are there more characteristics that we were able to identify by looking at their words (and things like that)? I know that this has been studied and there might be some good answers to this.

  • David Anthony has a short summary of IE creation myths, deduced from the names and relationships of deities, in Chapter 8 of "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language" – Colin Fine Jan 6 '20 at 0:26
  • @ColinFine That would make a good answer, if you can summarize it! I unfortunately don't have that book. – Draconis Jan 6 '20 at 1:29
  • 1
    2. is an utter non-sequitur, regardless of it not being a question of linguistics. – vectory Jan 6 '20 at 5:50
  • 3. Like the word "to trade"? Or with a passiv/active distinction as in "robbed"? That doesn't say much about the actual trading practice. 1. The word forefathers at leadt includes women--Unless you have a patriarchial mindset. Anyhow, "The concept is complementary to an "earth mother"." [en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Sky_father]. It's a question of Sociology, first, and of mythology specifically. – vectory Jan 6 '20 at 6:57
  • My favorite is Émile Benveniste Dictionary of Indo-European Concepts and Society – Alex B. Jan 6 '20 at 15:24

[This is only a bit of an answer, so I just mentioned it in a comment] but Draconis suggested I post it as an answer]

From David W Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, beginning of Chapter 8:

At the beginning of time there were two brothers, twins, one named Man (*Manu, in Proto-Indo-European) and the other Twin (*Yemo). They traveled through the cosmos accompanied by a great cow. Eventually Man and Twin decided to create the world we now inhabit. To do this, Man had to sacrifice Twin (or, in some versions, the cow). From the parts of this sacrificed body, with the help of the sky gods (Sky Father, Storm God of War, Divine Twins), Man made the wind, the sun, the moon, the sea, earth, fire, and finally all the various kinds of people. Man became the first priest, the creator of the ritual of sacrifice that was the root of world order.

After the world was made, the sky-gods gave cattle to "Third man" (*Trito). But the cattle were treacherously stolen by a three-headed, six-eyed serpent (*Ngʷhi, the Proto-Indo-European root for negation). Third man entreated the storm god to help get the cattle back. Together they went to the cave (or mountain) of the monster, killed it (or the storm god killed it alone), and freed the cattle. *Trito became the first warrior. He recovered the wealth of the people, and his gift of cattle to the priests insured that the sky gods received their share in the rising smoke of sacrificial fires. This insured that the cycle of giving between gods and humans continued.

(He does give some sources for this, which I haven't investigated. They include Calvert Watkins, Bruce Lincoln, Jaan Puhvel, and Mallory & Adams.)


This question is not asking for more examples, just whether there is anything more. Lists of examples would be opinion based.

But yes, yes there is characteristic evidence. The sense "to cut" is the single most prominent in the glosses from Wiktionary. Whereas they have no common words for metallurgy, at least not widely shared. So one can assume they still furnished an adequate stone industry. Today, stone masonry is a delicate art, from mining over gem cutting to micro chip design.

The question is perhaps also asking to watch a youtube video, and to discuss it, but that's out of scope and feels a bit like advertising.

  • 2
    So the only thing that humans can ever talk about cutting is stone? WHAT? – Colin Fine Jan 6 '20 at 17:57
  • @ColineFine haha, no. As I said, concrete examples are besides the point for this answer. I just find it amazing how many verbal metaphors seem to derive from *sek-, *sker-, and *skel- alone. I didn't even mention the fact that Japanese sekki literally means some kind of stone, or stone tool; that's not needed to explain the ubiquity of stone tools in the stone-age. – vectory Jan 6 '20 at 23:34
  • So your mention of stone masonry is a complete and utter non sequitur, with no relation whatever to what comes before it, then? – Colin Fine Jan 7 '20 at 0:19
  • Well, a) *skel- > calculus, is a possibility, but phonetically difficult b) "*h₂éḱmō (“stone”) (compare Sanskrit अश्मन् (aśman, “stone”)), from *h₂eḱ- (“sharp”)" is taken straight from wiktionary c) "*gʷréh₂wō (“heavy stone”), from *gʷréh₂us (“heavy”)" in perspective of disagreement about *gʷʰer- "warm" in Germanic is considerable, cp Frank. Brand "sword"? also heating stones d) ... – vectory Jan 7 '20 at 2:15
  • PCelt *līwā, if from PIE *leh1-w-, from *leh1- "soft", cp Lat lenis, would imply the opposite e) stone itself "apparently" from "stiff", from *steH- "stand", though cp *h3estH, Zoroastr. MidPers "'st(k') /ast(ag/, “bone, fruit stone)”)", "'sthw'n' /astuxān/, “bone”)*" Manichaean MPers "'st(g) /ast(ag)/, “bone, fruit stone”)", Lat os "bone", indeed cp bone vs *bhe- "be", vs existence, also boulder f) PGem *agjōstainaz, Norse eggstone "corner-stone", cf *h₂éḱ- above, cp whetstone g) PGem *halluz "stone, rock; cliff" from PIE *skel- h) Proto-Mongolic, Korean, ...? – vectory Jan 7 '20 at 2:42

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