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Early Indo-European Online

Introduction to the Language Lessons

Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann

Recent advances in determining the origin of western civilization and the settlement of Europe are based especially on findings in genetics, archeology and linguistics. The papers on the topic given at a conference that brought together eminent specialists in these fields under organization of the Banco Popolare di Milano have been published in Italian under the title Le radici prime dell'Europa. Gli intrecci genetici, linguistici, storici, edited by Gianluca Bocchi and Mauro Ceruti (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2001). While these three sciences all provide information on the settlement, only through linguistics can the people involved be identified. Yet linguistics dealing with the early period is least advanced of the three. Moreover, grammars published as introductions to the early languages are produced on the pattern of those designed for instruction of secondary school students of years past, who were expected to take eight years of Latin, six of Greek, and then proceed to the study of Sanskrit and other less widely studied languages like Old Slavic, Armenian, and Avestan. Under curricula of today, few scholars find such a course of study acceptable.

Moreover, the important ability with respect to these languages is that of reading texts, with or without the help of translations. The online introductions in Early Indo-European Online are designed to provide such ability. In this series, texts that in themselves are valuable for literary and historical as well as linguistic purposes are briefly introduced, glossed word-by-word, followed by grammatical descriptions, and accompanied by a complete glossary, a base-form dictionary, and an English meaning index. For example, the third through fifth units of the introduction to Latin contain Julius Caesar's descriptions of the early Germanic people, which we assume from our reading of Herodotus and other early historians might also apply to the Indo-European peoples several millennia earlier. Other texts are important selections of literature, such as the opening lines of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Still others are important theological texts.

Most of this work has been carried out under grants from the Salus Mundi Foundation, for which we owe thanks to Dr. A. Richard Diebold, Jr. We hope that these lessons have wide usage, but would also appreciate users giving credit to him and to Salus Mundi for the grant that made possible the introductions to Latin and Greek and, through follow-on grants, subsequent works, all part of the Linguistics Research Center collection. We welcome comments, which may be sent to the Linguistics Research Center via the e-mail "comments" link at the bottom of each page.

About the Series Authors

Each lesson series represents the collaborative work of two or more individuals, as described below in the order of series completion.

All lesson materials through 2013 were edited, formatted, and rendered into HTML by Dr. Jonathan Slocum. The tables of contents, master glossaries, base form dictionaries, and English meaning indices are generated entirely by software written by Dr. Slocum. From time to time, these web pages may be revised to correct errors and/or to add new features.

About the Series Lessons

The texts in these lessons were selected for the historical and cultural information they provide; they have not been simplified, but sections may be omitted. Each lesson series comprises a number of glossed texts (usually ten), each with a brief introduction identifying its author and the document from which it was taken, an English translation, and five Grammar points; other resources in each series include a Table of Contents and a Series Introduction, a Master Glossary of words covering all lesson texts, a Base Form Dictionary also spanning the texts, and an English Meaning Index to the glosses. Listed in order of [first] online publication:

Latin Online [2002] is designed to teach you to read Latin, or to improve your reading knowledge. After completing the course, you should be able to read any Latin texts. You may find it easier to use texts with translations, such as the Loeb Classics.

Classical Greek Online [2002], likewise, is designed to teach you to read classical Greek texts or to improve your reading knowledge. New Testament Greek Online [2003] includes some of the central N.T. passages; it is designed like Greek Online.

Old Church Slavonic Online [2003] is written in the same format with the same goals in mind. Seven OCS texts are taken from the New Testament; two of these (lessons 6, 7) parallel texts in our New Testament Greek series. Three non-Biblical texts, from other sources, are included for literary variety. An annotated bibliography, rather than being included as lesson points 46-50 in lesson 10 as in the Latin/Greek series, is listed separately; see the link at the bottom of the OCS Series Introduction page.

Classical Armenian Online [2004] is a collection of 5 lessons, with texts dated from the 5th to 7th centuries A.D. Again, the annotated bibliography is separate; see the link at the bottom of the Armenian Series Introduction page.

Old Iranian Online [2004] is a 10-lesson series in which two related languages are covered: Avestan (lessons 1-6), with texts from the 10th - 6th centuries B.C., and Old Persian (7-10), with texts from the 6th - 5th centuries B.C. Each language has its own brief annotated bibliography. For Avestan, two dialects are covered: "old" (lessons 1-4) and "young[er]" (5-6). A short list of works for Further Reading also appears at the end of the Series Introduction.

Old Norse Online [2005] is a 10-lesson series, with texts from the 9th - 14th centuries A.D. A separate annotated bibliography is included (see link at bottom of Series Introduction page).

Baltic Online is a collection of 7 Lithuanian lessons [2005] covering texts from the 16th - 20th centuries A.D., plus an additional set of 3 Latvian lessons [2007] covering texts from the 16th - 19th centuries A.D.

Hittite Online [2005] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the 17th - 12th centuries B.C. A short bibliography appears at the end of the Series Introduction.

Ancient Sanskrit Online [2006] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the Rigveda, dating perhaps from the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. A separate tabular index to Rigvedic passages covered in the series is included (see link at bottom of Series Introduction page). After this series was completed, an online version of the full metrically restored Rigveda text was prepared; it is transcribed in Unicode.

Gothic Online [2006] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the Gothic New Testament and from Skeireins, together dated in the 4th - 5th centuries A.D. Half of these texts (lessons 1, 4, 6, 7, 10) parallel texts in our New Testament Greek series.

Old French Online [2006] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the 9th - 13th centuries A.D. Grammar points 46-50, in lesson 10, comprise a short bibliography.

Old Irish Online [2006-07] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the 6th - 10th centuries A.D.

Old English Online [2007] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the 7th - 10th centuries A.D.

Tocharian Online [2007-10] is a 10-lesson series with a separate annotated bibliography; Tocharian texts are dated in the 6th - 8th centuries A.D. We believe this to be the first introductory Tocharian grammar published in English.

Albanian Online [2011] is a collection of 3 Standard Albanian lessons covering texts from the 20th - 21st centuries A.D., plus an additional pair of Geg lessons covering texts from the 16th & 19th centuries A.D.

Old Russian Online [2013] is a 10-lesson series with texts from the 10th - 15th centuries A.D.

Text Encodings

This section discusses our Unicode® and non-Unicode representations of characters. The impact on you, the reader, is mostly a matter of selecting one of three versions of any given lesson series, and you may skip this section if the underlying details do not interest you. However, if characters in a lesson text are not being displayed properly, you might wish to return here (or use the "Help" link in the left margin of any lesson page) and read this section carefully. Trouble manifests itself in various guises, depending on your operating system and browser and, especially, the font selected by your browser to display the lesson text. While we cannot predict all possible manifestations of trouble, most often it seems that what should be special characters and/or diacritics will appear as empty rectangular boxes or unrecognizable "blobs" on-screen. The only simple explanation we can offer is that your system software is inadequate to display that particular version of the lesson, and you must either upgrade your software or select a "simpler" lesson version. For the details, read on.

Owing to the requirements of various non-Roman and extended Roman alphabets, we have adopted Unicode® to represent texts in scripts other than simple Roman (specifically, other than ISO-8859-1, a.k.a. "Latin-1"), and in those lessons our HTML style sheet recommends that, depending on the language and character set, browsers use one or another of the following Unicode-compliant fonts (listed here in alphabetic order):

What this means is that, in order to read lessons and texts written in non-Roman scripts, or using other than the few most common Western European "Latin-1" vowels with diacritics, you must employ Unicode-compliant software and it must have available a Unicode-compliant font -- such as one of those listed above -- with the requisite character glyphs. (These requirements are generally met, on Macintosh, only by OS X 10.2 or later with a suitably advanced browser.) As we become aware of the existence and wide distribution of other large Unicode-compliant fonts having [typically] thousands of glyphs covering the languages of our lessons, we will add them to our style sheet. If your browser is configured to ignore style sheet recommendations, you're on your own.

There are actually two Unicode versions of each lesson, corresponding roughly to the Unicode 2 and Unicode 3 specifications and using those labels. As the version numbers imply, Unicode 3 is more advanced than Unicode 2 and includes hundreds of additional characters, even entire scripts (for example, Armenian). If you cannot read a Unicode 3 web page, try switching to a Unicode 2 version of that page using the link provided.

For those whose software refuses to properly render Unicode characters, the editor has replicated all lessons using a very simple Romanized (i.e., ISO-8859-1) transliteration. Obviously these versions are not sufficient to teach languages, such as Greek, that are not written in the so-called Roman alphabet, but they do offer a start. Anyone wishing to read online texts in their native scripts, or at least in a standard Roman-based script with compound or less-common diacritics, should acquire software fully supporting the Unicode standard; some resources are free, while others may require payment. The Linguistics Research Center and the University of Texas cannot, and do not, make vendor recommendations.

The Lesson Texts

There are great disparities in character set capabilities and font repertoires among personal computers in contemporary use (see above). Unfortunately, support for Unicode® and/or the collection of fonts installed on your personal computer cannot be detected by a web server! Accordingly, we have prepared multiple versions of each lesson, and you must select from among them based on your situation and experience.

Full Unicode (v. 3)

For systems/browsers with Unicode support and fonts spanning the Unicode 3 character set for the relevant languages:

Partial Unicode (v. 2.0)

For systems/browsers with Unicode support, but fonts for only the Unicode 2.0 character set (including combining diacritics):

No Unicode (Romanized Texts)

For systems/browsers lacking Unicode support, or having less than full support via Unicode 2.0 fonts:

Related Language Courses at UT

Most but not all language courses taught at The University of Texas concern modern languages; sometimes courses are offered in ancient languages, though more often at the graduate level. Interested students are referred to the relevant departmental websites for details; links to them below open in a new browser window, leaving this one intact.

Online language courses for college credit are offered through the University Extension (link opens in new window).

Indo-European Language Resources Elsewhere

Our Web Links page includes pointers to Indo-European language resources elsewhere.