The Passing of the Great Race
By Madison Grant
Part II - European Races In History
THE ORIGIN OF THE ARYAN LANGUAGES
BY the process of elimination set forth in the preceding chapter we are compelled to consider that the strongest claimant for the honor of being the race of the original Aryans, is the tall, blond Nordic. A study of the various languages of the Aryan group reveals an extreme diversity which can be best explained by the hypothesis that the existing languages are now spoken by people upon whom Aryan speech has been forced from without. This theory corresponds exactly with the known historic fact that the Aryan languages, during the last three or four thousand years at least, have, again and again, been imposed by Nordics upon populations of Alpine and Mediterranean blood.
Within the present distributional area of the Nordic race, and in the very middle of a typical area of isolation, is the most generalized member of the Aryan group, namely, Lettish, or old Lithuanian, situated on the Gulf of Riga, and almost Proto-Aryan in character. Close at hand was the closely related Old Prussian or Borussian, very recently extinct. These archaic languages are relatively close to Sanskrit, and are located in actual contact with the non-Aryan speech of the Esths and Finns.
The non-Aryan languages in eastern Russia are Ugrian, a form of speech which extends far into Asia, and which alone of all agglutinative tongues, contains elements which unite it with synthetic speech, and which is consequently dimly transitory in character. In other words, in the opinion of many philologists, a primitive form of Ugrian might have given birth to the Proto-Aryan ancestor of existing synthetic languages.
This hypothesis, if sustained by further study, will provide additional evidence that the site of the development of the Aryan languages, and of the Nordic species, was in eastern Europe, and in a region which is close to the place of contact between the most archaic synthetic languages and the most nearly related non-Aryan tongue, the agglutinative Ugrian.
The Aryan tongue was introduced into Greece by the Achaeans about 1400 B.C., and later, about 1100 B.C., by the true Hellenes, who brought in the classic dialects of Dorian, Ionian, and Aeolian.
These Aryan languages superseded their non-Aryan predecessor, the Pelasgian. From the language of these early invaders came the Illyrian, Thracian, Albanian, classic Greek, and the debased modern Romaic, a descendant of the Ionian dialect.
Aryan speech was introduced among the non-Aryan Etruscans of the Italian Peninsula by the Umbrians and Oscans about 1100 B.C. These languages were ultimately succeeded by Latin, an offshoot of these early Aryan tongues of northern Italy which later spread to the uttermost confines of the Roman Empire. Its descendants to-day are the Romance tongues spoken within the ancient imperial boundaries, the Portuguese on the west, Castilian, Catalan, Provencal, French, the langue d'oil of the Walloons, Ligurian, Romansch, Ladin, Friulian, Tuscan, Calabrian, and Rumanian.
The problem of the existence of a language, the Rumanian, in the eastern Carpathians, cut off by Slavic and Magyar tongues from the nearest Romance languages, but nevertheless clearly descended from Latin, presents great difficulties. The Rumanians themselves make two claims; the first, which can be safely disregarded, is an unbroken linguistic descent from a group of Aryan languages which occupied this whole section of Europe, from which Latin was derived, and of which Albanian is also a remnant.
The more serious claim, however, made by the Rumanians, is to linguistic and racial descent from the military colonists planted by the Emperor Trajan in the great Dacian plain. This may be possible, so far as the language is concerned, but there are some weighty objections to it.
We have no evidence for, and much against, the existence of Rumanian speech north of the Danube for nearly a thousand years after Rome abandoned this outlying region. Dacia was one of the last provinces to be occupied by Rome, and was the first from which the legions were withdrawn upon the dissolution of the empire. The northern Carpathians, furthermore, where the Rumanians claim to have taken refuge during the barbarian invasions, form part of the Slavic homeland, and it was in these same mountains, and in the Ruthenian districts of eastern Galicia, that the Slavic languages were developed, probably by the Sarmatians and Venethi, and from which they spread in all directions in the centuries that immediately follow the fall of Rome. So it is almost impossible to credit the survival of a frontier community of Romanized natives situated not only in the path of the great invasions of Europe-from the east, but also in the very spot where Slavic languages were at the time evolving.
Rumanian speech occupies a large area outside of the present kingdom of Rumania, in Russian Bessarabia, Austrian Bukowina, and above all in Hungarian Transylvania, all of which were parts of ancient Dacia, and which are now to be "redeemed " by the Rumanians.
This linguistic problem is further complicated by the existence in the Pindus Mountains of Thessaly of another large community of Vlachs of Rumanian speech. How this later community also could have survived from Roman times until to-day, untouched either by the Greek language of the Byzantine Empire or by the Turkish conquest, is another difficult problem. The solution of these questions receives no assistance from anthropology, as these Rumanian-speaking populations, both on the Danube and in the Pindus Mountains, in no way differ physically from their neighbors on all sides. Through whatever channel they acquired their Latin speech, the Rumanians to-day can lay no valid claim to blood descent, even in a very remote degree, from the true Romans.
The first Aryan languages known in western Europe were the Celtic group which first appears west of the Rhine about 1OOO B.C.
There have been found only a few dim traces of Pre-Aryan speech in the British Isles, these chiefly in place names. In Britain Celtic speech was introduced in two successive waves, first by the Goidels, or "Q Celts," who apparently appeared about 800 B.C., and this form exists to this day as Erse in western Ireland, as Manx of the Isle of Man, and as Gaelic in the Scottish Highlands.
The Goidels were of bronze culture. When they reached Britain they must have found there a population preponderantly of Mediterranean type with numerous remains of still earlier races of Paleolithic times, and also some round skull Alpines of the Round Barrows, who have since faded from the living population. When the next invasion, the Cymric, occurred, the Goidels had been very largely absorbed by these underlying Mediterranean aborigines who had accepted the Goidelic form of Celtic speech, just as on the continent the Gauls had mixed with Alpine and Mediterranean natives though imposing upon the conquered their own tongue. In fact, in Britain, Gaul, and Spain the Goidels and Gauls were chiefly a ruling, military class, while the great bulk of the population remained unchanged, although Aryanized in speech.
The Brythonic or Cymric tribes, or "P Celts," followed about five hundred years later, driving the Goidels westward through Germany, Gaul, and Britain, as is proved by the distribution of place names, and this movement of population was still going on when Csesar crossed the Channel. The Brythonic group gave rise to the modern Cornish, extinct within a century, the Cymric of Wales, and the Armorican of Brittany.
In central Europe we find traces of these same two forms of Celtic speech, with the Goidelic everywhere the older and the Cymric the more recent arrival.
When the two Celtic-speaking races came into conflict in Britain their original relationship had been greatly obscured by the crossing of the Goidels with the underlying dark Mediterranean race of Neolithic culture, and by the mixture of the Belgae with Teutons. The result of all this was that the Brythons did not distinguish between the blond Goidels and the brunet, but Celticized Mediterraneans, as they all spoke Goidelic dialects.
In the same way when the Teutonic tribes entered Britain they found there peoples all speaking Celtic of some form, either Goidelic or Cymric, and promptly called them all Welsh (foreigners). These Welsh were preponderantly of Mediterranean type with some mixture of a blond Goidel strain and a much stronger blond strain of Cymric origin, and these same elements exist to-day in England. The Mediterranean race is easily distinguished, but the physical types derived from Goidel and Brython alike are merged and lost in the later floods of pure Nordic blood, Angle, Saxon, Dane, Norse, and Norman. In this primitive, dark population, with successive layers of blond Nordics imposed upon it, each one more purely Nordic, lies the secret and the solution of the anthropology of the British Isles. This Iberian substratum was able to absorb, to a large extent, the earlier Celtic-speaking invaders, both Goidels and Brythons, but it is only just beginning to seriously threaten the Teutonic Nordics, and to reassert its ancient brunet characters after three thousand years of submergence.
In northwest Scotland there is a Gaelic-speaking area where the place names are all Scandinavian and the physical types purely Nordic. This is the only spot in the British Isles where Celtic speech has reconquered a district from the Teutonic languages, and it was the site of one of the earliest conquests of the Norse Vikings, probably in the early centuries of our era. In Caithness in north Scotland, as well as in some isolated spots on the Irish coasts, the language of these same Norse pirates persisted until within a century. In the fifth century of our era and after the breakup of Roman domination in Britain there was much racial unrest, and a back wave of Goidels crossed from Ireland and either introduced or reinforced the Gaelic speech in the highlands. Later, Goidelic speech was gradually driven north and west by the intrusive English of the lowlands, and was ultimately forced over this originally Norse-speaking area.
We have elsewhere in Europe evidence of a similar shiftings of speech without corresponding changes in the blood of the population.
Except in the British Isles and in Brittany, Celtic languages have left no modern descendants, but have everywhere been replaced by languages of Neo-Latin or Teutonic origin. Outside of Brittany one of the last, if not quite the last, references to Celtic speech in Gaul is the historic statement that "Celtic" tribes, as well as "Armoricans," took part at Chalons in the great victory in 451 A.D. over Attila, the Hun, and his confederacy of subject nations.
On the continent the only existing populations of Celtic speech are the primitive inhabitants of central Brittany, a population noted for their religious fanaticism and for other characteristics of a backward people. This Celtic speech is said to have been introduced in the early century of our era by Britons fleeing from the Saxons. These refugees, if there were such, must have been dolichocephs of either Mediterranean or Nordic race, or both. We are asked by this tradition to believe that the skull shape of these Britons was lost, but that their language was adopted by the Alpine population of Armorica. It is much more probable that the Cymric-speaking Alpines of Brittany have merely retained in this isolated corner of France a form of Celtic speech which was prevalent throughout northern Gaul and Britain before these provinces were conquered by Rome and Latinized. Caesar remarked that there was little difference between the speech of the Belgae in northern Gaul and in Britain. In both cases the speech was Cymric.
Long after the conquest of Gaul by the Goths and Franks, Teutonic speech was predominant among the ruling classes, and by the time it succumbed to the Latin tongue of the Romanized natives, the old Celtic languages had been entirely forgotten outside of Brittany.
An example of similar changes of language is to be found in Normandy where the country was originally inhabited by the Nordic Belgae, who spoke a Cymric language before that tongue was replaced by Latin. This coast was ravaged about 300 or 400 A.D. by Saxons who formed settlements along both sides of the Channel and the coasts of Brittany, which were later known as the Litus Saxonicum ["Saxon shore" -- Ed.]. Their progress can best be traced by place names, as our historic record of these raids is scanty.
The Normans landed in Normandy in the year 911 A.D. They were heathen Danish barbarians, speaking a Teutonic language. The religion, culture, and language of the old Romanized populations worked a miracle in the transformation of everything except blood in one short century. So quick was the change that 155 years later the descendants of the same Normans landed in England as Christian Frenchmen, armed with all the culture of their period. The change was startling, but the blood of the Norman breed remained unchanged and entered England as a purely Nordic type.
Continue on to Part 2, Chapter 14 - THE ARYAN-LANGUAGE IN ASIA