Just two briefly mention two substrate hypotheses which I’ve come across in the last 24 hours:
- Theo Vennemann posits a Semitic substrate for Proto-Germanic, an encounter made possible by Phoenician colonization of the North Sea area. Among the supposed loanwords are the names of the Germanic gods Pol and Baldur, none other than the Semitic god Baal. Vennemann’s vast work on Semitic and Basque substrates in Europe seems to be politely tolerated but generally ignored by IEists, and I heard of this hypothesis from the popular press: John McWhorter’s Our Magnificient Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English. McWorther does mention that there are serious objections to this theory, but in my opinion, even bringing it up at all risks leading impressionable laymen astray.
- Alexander Lubotsky’s article ‘The Indo-Iranian Substratum’ in Early Contacts between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguistic and Archaeological Considerations ed. Carpelan et al. (Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian Society, 2001) notes that the phonological peculiarities of non-Indo-European words in Indo-Iranian are the same for loanwords in Indo-Aryan specifically. The author writes,
In order to account for this fact, we are bound to assume that the language of the original population of the towns of Central Asia, where the Indo-Iranians must have arrived in the second millennium BCE, on the one hand, and the language spoken in Punjab, the homeland of the Indo-Aryans, on the other, were intimately related.