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Paleo-Balkan languages: Wikis


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once the Balkans

The Paleo-Balkan languages is a geolinguistic concept referring to the Indo-European languages that were spoken in the Balkans in ancient times. Except for Greek and the language that gave rise to Albanian (see below), they are all extinct, due to Hellenization (in the south), Romanization (in the north), and Slavicisation due to the later Slavic migrations.


Because of the fragmentary evidence from the extinct languages, particularly Illyrian, it is not known how closely related these languages were, i.e., whether they belonged to a common branch of the Indo-European language family or merely a Sprachbund. When a closer linguistic relationship is assumed, the extinct languages are referred to as Thraco-Illyrian. Albanian may have evolved from Daco-Thracian or Thraco-Illyrian but neither proposal has been proven, although there is some evidence and continuity that is widely considered plausible (see Origin of Albanians).

Substratum words of Paleo-Balkan origin are found in Romanian, and to a lesser extent, in South Slavic languages.

No pre-Indo-European language from the Balkans is known. Associated to this fact are speculations that the Balkans may have been the Urheimat, or perhaps a "secondary Urheimat" of Indo-European, e.g. in Renfrew's Anatolian hypothesis which assumes a secondary Urheimat in the Balkans around 5000 BC.

A possible pre-Indo-European phylum in the Balkans may have corresponded to the Tyrsenian languages, attested in the form of a single inscription in the Lemnian language.

See also



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