A shared language in prehistoric times?
“In each of my etymologies-books, published in the “Semitic Series”, I clearly expressed the method for etymological investigation. I avail myself of 17 dictionaries (and their grammars) relating to the ancient and medieval Mediterranean languages: languages appeared at the history from the beginning of civilization. My research starts from the present lemma and follows, amongst lexical and morphemic comparisons, up to the most archaic lemma that can credibly dealed with the present Sardinian lemma. Therefore I examine the dictionaries (and grammars) of the Italian, Spanish, Catalan, old-Italian, Byzantine, Latin, Greek, Egyptian, Arabic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Sumerian language. In addition, to leave no stone unturned, I even consult the Hittite and Sanskrit dictionary. Of course, I reserve the opportunity to see – as necessary – the dictionaries of the Celtic languages, of the Basque, and why not, as well as of the Gothic, and Germanic language. More than 23 dictionaries.
It should be clear that the methodical use of these dictionaries and grammars is the foundation of any etymological work on the Sardinian language. I therefore reject, because amethodic, even provocative, the claim of those who are convinced Sardinian language derived from the Latin (or from the Basque one), and they deign to consult only this dictionary, unless privileging Romance languages they are fond of, namely Catalan, Spanish, Italian, or (absurd of the absurd) they delight in translating from Sardinian-into-Sardinian or, which is the same, from Sardinian-into-Italian!
The deplorable habit of abandoning the practice of science and indulging in auto-reference translation, ie a translation done within the same language, it is an unforgivable mark on the skin of etymologists. For example, a Greek scholar, in translating Gr. témenos as ‘sacred enclosure’, ‘consecrated area’, he tends to pull this lemma by Gr. verb témnō ‘I cut’, thus closing the issue, no longer aiming at the archaic base, which is outside of the Greek language: it’s Sumerian temen ‘foundation’ (in the sense of built area, delimited): see Akkadian temennu ‘foundation’, ‘document of foundation stone’.
As for Latin scholars, their investigation, example, on Sardinian déus leads them to affirm, needless to say, a Latin origin, except compare it with Gr. Ζεύς (indeed, according to a twisted logic, with θεός). The hypothesis do not touch them that Lat. deus, along with Zeús, has an archaic basis on Sum. de to ‘create’ + u ‘whole, universe’: de-u, with the original meaning of ‘Creator of the Universe’. That Skr. deva ‘god’ has the same root as the Sumerian, is further evidence that was the Sumerian basin to irradiate the concept of the universal principle, and certainly not the Indo-European word *dyau (rebuilt!), to which scholars of the “Indo-European school” adhere blindly.
Because I consider that routine bad (and therefore unscientific), I continue the excavation until the “rocky base” by finding the remaining 60%, which, incidentally, refers to Sumerian-Semitic dictionaries, even it is “akin” to Sumerian or Semitic dictionaries.
To see clearly, the difference of the methods is evident. Their method is identical to that of a lazy archaeologist who digs a monument for a few meters, leaving underground 90% of the riser wall including all the artifacts that are at the basis of the riser. It’s like that Schliemann excavated Troy only in the first level, rather than until the ninth. I, digging the first few levels of the Sardinian current language, found it to 40% related to Italian-Spanish-Catalan-Latin lemmas. For a time I translated exactly so, basing me only upon those languages! Today I feel ridiculous and incompetent if I stop at these levels. Considering that routine as very partial (and therefore unscientific), today I continue the excavation until the “bedrock” finding the remaining 60%, which, incidentally, refers to Sumerian-Semitic dictionaries, even it is “akin” to the Sumerian-Semitic dictionaries.
That’s why I argue the “hard core” of the current Sardinian lexicon sinks amongst the Semitic languages. As a result, scientifically, the foundations of the archaic and ancient Sardinian language are, in fact, Sumerian-Semitic. And since Sardinia never suffered any invasion or colonization by the peoples of the Fertile Crescent, it goes without saying that in the pre-imperial, pre-Christian times, the base of Mediterranean languages (especially the base of Sardinian one) was “Sumerian- Semitic” tout court: but, mind you, it was “Sumerian-Semitic” nomine tantum, meaning they belonged to a common linguistic prehistory (First and Second Koiné) that embraced the whole Mediterranean, and which we now call “Sumerian- Semitic” only because, after thousands of years in which they were buried, some lexical “databases” and certain written texts have reappeared to light only in the areas that we now call “Sumerian-Semitic”. If at that time the Sardinians had also written clay tablets, it was clear that even in Sardinia they spoke the same language. But it is not said that sooner or later something today buried is to be returned in Sardinia.
It is clear that the constant use of the dictionaries mentioned by me (faithful companions of a serious etymologist) do not exempt me from the basic language training and talent: tihs is a serious method, the absence of which has led to a very different approach, making philologists entrench themselves in a dogmatic assertion that the Sardinian language is derived exclusively from the Latin language (or Basque language…). Of this absurd limitation and distortion of the method they have to answer in front of the history of science.
The key to understanding the problem of preservation of the ancient pre-Roman language is the conquest of the cities and the sharp break in the world history has always created between city and country. In the history of Sardinian language we must enter, at this regard, the parameters without which we will never understand the many problems of Sardinia. The first argument is that Romans landed and took possession of the cities. Took possession of Karallu ( Karalis < Ptolemaic Karalli) , installing the army, the administration, commercial facilities, trade brokers. Elsewhere on the Island, they created fixed points contra Barbaricinos, such as purely Latin outposts of Forum Trajani and Sorabile. But after 150 years they had realized that even the North Sardinia needed a balance garrison. Hence the foundation of the Roman colony of Turris Lybissonis, which was for centuries purely Latin. As you can see, Romans took only a few ganglia of Latin residences in purity, to rule the entire island. Even Tharros and Nora had to become Roman in purity, with the obvious corollary that the natives who had inhabited were certainly driven away.
The phenomenon of creating or take in hand the dominant cities, inhabited exclusively by cohesive elements, as opposed to the remaining residents scattered around the countryside or in villages, it was also a Catalan requirement: they drove the Pisans and the Sardinians from the fortified walls of Càgliari, and drove the Sardinians from the fortified walls of Alghero, for the need to master with pure elements at least two cities from which to dominate North and South Sardinia.
The demonstration of Sassarians’ hatred for Catalans lies in the fact that in Sassari not still used almost a single word of Catalonia (a language spoken fluently, even today, in the near Alghero), while using the old-Italian, which did not had nothing noble, having been introduced twice by the mob of Gallura, when he came to repopulate Sassari depopulata by the Great Pests. The Sassari’s majors preferred people were fleshed out with Gallura’s mob (speaking a folksy and rustic dialect, felt with some discomfort, according to the Latin tradition of Sassari), rather than accept a transfer from nearby Alghero, a people speaking the courtly language of Catalan conquerors.
Given those facts, why had there reasons, just to go back to Latin language, for it could expand freely or forcibly in the countryside, in the villages? The reasons always failed, because the Romans were seen as occupiers, usurpers of land, grain thieves, kidnappers of the fleet, inhibitors of navigation and commerce of natives: so as irreconcilable enemies. And the Sardinian population continued undaunted speaking the language of their fathers, one Semitic language, still preserved in the “hard core” of the peasant speech.
Moreover, in the world we have had various tests that was shortsighted and incongruous the demand of a conqueror to overwhelm even the language of a submissive people. Example, leaving aside the famous deportation of Jews to Babylon (where they preserved the purity in their own language), we can cite the policy of the Assyrian Empire, whose deportation had first of all the purpose of linguistic unification. Aiming to that, the Assyrians deported the defeated Canaanites to Assyria or to other provinces of Assyria, and deported the same Assyrians or speaking Assyrian toward Canaan. «The final goal was the linguistic, cultural, political assimilation, as complete as possible, so as to transform the losers in Assyrians. The assimilation complete the conquest, turning a rebel kingdom and alien in a new province of the cosmos directly responsible to the king and the god Ashur».1
«In this context of demographic and territorial remodeling serving the interests of the Assyrians, and under careful control of the Assyrian garrisons and officials, the practice of “cross-deportation”, which involved something like 4.5 million people in a span of three centuries, played an essential role. The biblical account of the conquest of Samaria said first the deportation of the Israelites:
the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel into Assyria, fixing them in Halah, on the Habur river (at Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes. (2Re 17:6)
and shortly after narrates the arrival of the alien deported:
the king of Assyria brought (people) from Babylon, Kuta, from ‘Awwa, from Hamath and from Sefarwayim and settled them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. (2Re 17:24)
From the texts of Sargon II we know he deported to Samaria also the Arabs:
The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani, Khayapa, distant inhabitants Arabs of the desert, who do not know overseer or officer, that to no king had ever led a tribute, to the mandate of Assur my lord I knocked down them, and the rest of them I deported and dwelt in Samaria (ISK, p. 320)».2
But the assimilation never happened. In the same Bible’s passages it is written the new populations of Samaria came to wear thin and sharp set each other. Not for anything else, but because of the wars of conquest leaving trails of hate and revanche so great, as to influence and hold for centuries or millennia the various peoples within their original language, the only sign of identity savable.
The fate of Samaria is comparable – but only to bring out the underlying differences – with the fate of the Sardinian town of Alghero. In Alghero had been operated a very strong graft, one people and one language; but that foreign people remained embedded, “besieged” within the city walls as a spurious speaking in the Sardinian territory, and even today the situation has remained unchanged; the Catalan language after 700 years he never crossed the walls of Alghèro.
At Samaria instead the matter was botched from the melting pot created by a mixture of five nations, and the addition of the sixth people, the Arab speaking a language closer to the Jewish one, could not help but exacerbate the situation and put one against the other. Was this the result that the Assyrians wanted? Not at all. They certainly wanted to put one against the other, but only in accordance with the philosophy of divide et impera. Instead this sowing hatred with both hands was a harbinger of economic decline.
So things went in the Mediterranean since the Assyrians and Babylonians (later Hittites, Medes and Persians, and finally Greeks and Romans) sought to expand and prevail by force of arms. Only freedom, equality, peaceful co-operation, the dignity of free trade can integrate languages. This is what had happened for so many millennia in the Mediterranean, before the Assyrians and Babylonians invented the “persuasion” of impalements and the mass deportations.
The Second Great Koiné (see § 2.3) produced up to the time of Alexander and Augustus (and even much later) a mother tongue (almost certainly used as a lingua franca also by gangs so-called “Indo-European”), which operated without hegemonic rival projects for several thousand years. It belonged to all peoples of the Mediterranean (including Šardanas) before the expansion of Alexander the Great and first of the Roman Empire, and also to a large extent after. All this happened in spite of the scholars who still believe the tale of a Roman Empire initiator of civilization (with the obvious corollary that before Rome and Alexander the Western world was a prey to barbarism and did not speak at all, or had not languages investigable for its intrinsic obscurity).
It should be emphasized in this respect the known facts, which are the following:
1) In the II-I century BCE, more than a century since the invasion, Cleone feel the need to write a text in Greek-Latin-Punic (bronze column of San Nicolò Gerréi), to make sure the Sardinians understand at least through the Punic language.
2) Two hundred years after the invasion, Cicero (Pro Scauro) complaints that Sardinia doesn’t even have a friendly city of the Roman people. If occupied cities were still hostile to the invaders, what should we say of the countryside and mountains?
3) It is famous the statement of St. Paul, who, shipwrecked on Malta island, was saved by the residents who spoke a barbarous language (ie neither Greek nor Latin). It was a Semitic language that, among the few hundred sailors and farmers, it lasted in purity spite of that Malta had become Roman hundreds of years. The Melitenses refused, perhaps even unconsciously, to adopt the language of Rome, despite the fact they were so few and so exposed, that the Romans would have been easy to force him.
4) Another episode is the one of De Magia 98, in which Apuleius, defending himself from the charge of having induced with magic Pudentilla the widow of Oea (modern Tripoli) to marry him, he opened an impressive gash on the African society of that time (they were in 159 CE). It puts by one hand Pudentilla, rich and cultured woman, who writes and speaks not only the Latin language but also Greek; on the other hand he puts the son of Pudentilla, Sicinius Pudens, who not only doesn’t know the Greek language despite being bred in culture, but even stutters continuously in an attempt to express, in the process, a few words in Latin: he fails for the simple reason that he has neglected the study of Latin letters, preferring to live like the rest of the population, which speaks only Punic. By the assertion of Apuleius we then know that in Africa Latina, occupied by Rome in 202 BCE after the battle of Zama (Naraggara), even 360 years after they spoke almost exclusively the Punic, despite Zama had been Romanized to the highest degree. St. Augustine, African citizen, had learned his excellent Latin, but he was an urbanized man belonging to that minority of cives which was directed exclusively by Christian preaching, which was expressed in Latin.
5) Another witness: in the sixth century E.V. the Barbaricini still worshiped ligna et lapides (St. Gregory’s Letters): only the cities had begun to incorporate the word of Jesus, and yet many citizens were paying the tax to continue to freely worship the ancient gods. Mind you, it had been three centuries since the liberalization of Christianity, 5 and a half centuries since his debut. Someone should reflect on the fact Barbaricini of Ospitone (ie ¾ of Sardinians, all residents in the vast mountain territory), they were still pagans, and a fortiori they had not permanently in contact with the Latin preachers. Only religion is able to operate, with the slow process of centuries, where political power fails. Religion needs to be preached with great caution, because the subjects accept the new verb only if it is sent in the mother tongue.
So did Wulfila in the fourth century CE, who transcribed the Greek Gospel into Gothic language, of which he invented the alphabet well. So did Cyril and Methodius, who evangelizing Russia had even the need to create a special national alphabet.
If these episodes are translated into a big and rough island like Sardinia, then the example of Malta, the example of Roman Africa, also the example of Ospitone, can make very well the linguistic processes that settle in a nation of losers. The key to understanding the problem lies precisely in the conquest of the city and the sharp break the history of the world has always created between town and country.
Of course, a religion can take root quickly: just make a genocide (as did Cortez). The survivors participating, and how! But the mountainous regions of Sardinia (which are 70% of the island) were never conquered by force of arms, at least until the sixth century, when the example of Cortez had a bright precedent in Byzantine weapons. Ospitone was to save the lives of their people: he joined the Christianity. In return, the Sardinian language remained intact. Why a hostile people would have to cancel his own language for the benefit of the invader, an invader, however, that at the time of Ospitone began to speak a Byzantine language and not a Latin one?
Only with the lintel of the nuraghe Áidu Entos and with the Table of Esterzili Sardinia begins to have the first document in Latin language. Before the Romans – that’s for sure – the documents are written only in Punic or Phoenician alphabet. With that, we have to admit the Sardinians began to write their own language with the spelling (and language) prevailing in the first millennium BCE in the central-western basin of Mediterranean: the Sardinian language-Phoenician.”
Source: Historical Grammar of Sardinian Language, Salvatore Dedola
[1.3 The valid etymological method; 1.4 City and country; 1.5 Evidence of the pan-Semitic speech in Sardinia]