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Iranian languages and Slavic languages have some similarities, such as the merger of aspirated sounds into unaspirated sounds, and the development of the consonant /z/. Historically, the settlements of the Scythians and Sarmatians were also close to proto-Slavs.

The migration time of the Indo-Aryans is still a mystery. Only the bottleneck Z2124 has been found in Sintashta, without L657 of the Indo-Aryans.

So I guess that the Iranian language was independent when it was separated from Proto-Indo-European and was closer to Balto-Slavic. The migration of the Indo-Aryans was quite early and rapid. In addition to entering South Asia, some insular tribes also entered the Iranian plateau, Afghanistan and Mitanni, and their language may be more conservative than Vedic.

Therefore, when the later Iranians migrated, they absorbed Indo-Aryans living outside South Asia. Avesta has a high probability of originating in Afghanistan, and we still have high-frequency L657 in Afghanistan. In this process, another fusion of language and culture is sure to take place. For example, Asko Parpola argues that the merger of e and o to a took place first in Indo-Aryan and then passed on to Iranian languages that entered Central Asia. It is also mentioned in his paper that the disappearance of Iranian aspirated stops may be related to the contact of North Caucasian/Balto-Slavic populations.

In contrast, the Scythian pantheon and culture are far removed from India and Iran. This is because they did not go south and experience massive linguistic and cultural integration with the first Indo-Aryans. Scythians do not call themselves Aryans, but another term related to "Skuda".

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  • I believe the idea that Slavic and Scythian mythology are similar depends on a different reading of "Scythian" than is common to the western discourse, and that Russian schools aren't much read here (communist works definitely weren't). My understanding is that we do not have much reconstructed mythology other than the little artifacts allow, and I expect you are referring to some theoretic construct. This may be irrelevant in view of the question, to the effect that you don't need to add a summary overview with sources on the particular point.
    – vectory
    Jun 23 at 18:10
  • Also, I don't see no @aryaman although you have responded a mere 24 minutes ago.
    – vectory
    Jun 23 at 18:10
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    Also also, the idea that the Avestan pantheon is an opposition to the Vedic is far from accepted because, I believe, the scripture shows respective gods loosing status over time. It is held that this developed independently, that the literally old layers of the Yasnas still agree and the Yasnas were not contemporary with the old layers of the Rig Veda. However spurious I find that argument, the heavy lifting needed to contest it won't fit into an SE posting at all. First it requires the show of deeper understanding of the argument. And that's literary criticism, not comparative reconstruction.
    – vectory
    Jun 23 at 18:18
  • @vectory In fact, there are still differences in the details of the Balto-Slavic languages, such as satemlization and ruki in Baltic and Slavic do not correspond exactly. So I think that at least during the Proto-Balto-Slavic period the population was dispersed and there were dialect differences. Baltic to the north and northeast, contact with Indo-Aryans. Slavic contacted with Srubna. Jun 23 at 18:35
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    That's not how citations work. There is no "the paper" in the bibliography; random websites tend to become derelict, and I'm not keen on loading random pdfs from the web.
    – vectory
    Jun 30 at 14:31

1 Answer 1

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It has been the standard theory that Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian are a significant subgroup in IE, as opposed to Germanic, Celtic, Italic, Hellenic. Then Indic and Iranian are significant subdivisions, as are Baltic and Slavic. However, doubts have been expressed about various of these subgroupings, and none of these divisions can be considered "definitely proven" (whereas "Slavic", "Germanic", "Indic" are not disputed as valid historical units). The question being about language, the only valid evidence is linguistic as opposed to cultural or genetic (consider the significant disparity between language and genetics in the New World).

The standard "bacterial division" model of language change asserts a single progenitor, which divides and over time mutates – a mutation in one ancestor entails the presence of that mutation in its descendants (conceivably, a later mutation of grand-daughter D can make it look like the parent of D and C did not undergo that mutation). In one sense, a "close relation" between Iranian and Slavic is entailed by the "satem" hypothesis that Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian were a single language at one point, and were distinct from e.g. Germanic, Celtic etc (or, whatever language developed into those subgroups). But this is a 4-way relation of similarity (actually 5 way, given the later discovery that the Nuristani languages are a sister subgroup in Indo-Iranian).

For the implied Slavic-Iranian unity to be established, one would look for linguistic innovations that were shared by Slavic and Iranian but not Indic or Baltic. And, one would have to explain away any linguistic innovations that support Balto-Slavic unity or Indo-Iranian unity. Deaspiration of voiced aspirates is a credible innovation which could exclude Indic, but it would also include into one group both Baltic, Celtic and Anatolian. There are quite a number of shared innovations that group Baltic and Slavic together. Interestingly, one of those shared innovations is Winter's Law which lengthens vowels before *b d g gʷ but not the corresponding voiced aspirated stops. That means that Balto-Slavic still distinguished *b and *bʰ and kept that distinction long enough for that lengthening rule to take effect – eventually, aspiration was lost. Iranian (and Indic) do not show the effect of Winter's law, thus Iranian and India must have separated from Baltic and Slavic before the innovation of Winter's law. Therefore, loss of aspiration in Slavic cannot be the same sound change as the loss of aspiration in Iranian.

Indic and Iranian have as shared innovations the merger of *e o a into a and the consonantal change Bartholomae's Law, and a number of other sound changes not shared with Slavic, which argues against a Slavic-Iranian common language that excludes Indic.

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    the satem languages forming a valid branch is far from proven and there is significant dissent against it. Unless the same shift occurred independently in Armenian (and part of it in Albanian), either the satem shift must have occurred before the breakup of PIE and so cannot be used to justify the existence of a branch, or Armenian must also be included (so too Albanian, although it would have to branch off early). Either way, satemisation cannot justify the existence of a Balto-Aryan branch
    – Tristan
    Mar 29 at 13:00
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    It is not “standard theory that Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian are a significant subgroup in IE”. Who says this?
    – fdb
    Apr 2 at 11:14
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    There is circular reasoning in these paragraphs which relies in no smoll part on the subdivisions as assumed since at least Schleichers first tree diagramms. This means that, while the basic observation about sound laws (or rather sound correspondances) may still hold in general, the conclusions may be wrong in individual cases of reconstruction, eg. with regards to s-mobile which remains unexplained, and affrication or assibilation of velars in large parts of western europe, prime example being Latin cum ~ sum "with". Archaeological evidence are definitely needed to ground those priors.
    – vectory
    Apr 15 at 15:22
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    @vectory where are you getting sum as a doublet with cum from? Isn't Greek syn a better example here? And linking archaeological evidence to linguistic is extremely difficult seeing as material culture and language frequently do not align
    – Tristan
    Apr 15 at 17:42
  • PIE theory rests on Archaeology nevertheless, be it for confirmation or heuristics, and the fact that it does not necessarily align may be frequently ignored, my point being that it's crude and could be improved. One key word is Wörter und Sachen eg. excluding IE presence in Anatolia before horses. I see that nothing much has changed since Mallory (a Steppe archaelogist) coined "Indo-European dark ages" to denote this problem; see also Anthony, throwing rhe baby out with bathwater.
    – vectory
    Apr 15 at 18:30

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