Someone made an addition to the Wikipedia article on the Slavonic languages about the ‘recent discovery’ that the Slavs were indigenous to Southern Europe. The citation for the matter was a paper by one Mario Alinei with the rather wordy title Interdisciplinary and linguistic evidence for Palaeolithic continuity of Indo-European, Uralic and Altaic populations in Eurasia, with an excursus on Slavic ethnogenesis. I have not read such silliness in some time.
Mr Alinei’s main thrust is that the Indo-European languages did not come about after the wide migration of Proto-Indo-European farmers (like in Renfrew) or horsemen (like in Mallory) in relatively recent history, but rather came to Europe with the first humans wandering out of Africa. He does not seem to be bothered by the fact that language changes so quickly that the languages of Europe could not have been seen as descendent of a common language if they were much older than they are. This paper is clearly crackpottery. The author seems to think that the theory of an invasion by horsemen was successful only due to the power of Nazi Germany, when the theory had been proposed decades before. We get nonsense like the following to suggest that languages are incapable of innovating new pronouns; the Japanese, who get new ones every couple of hundred years, would be astonished:
Whichever theory one chooses on the origins of IE languages, cognate grammatical words, such as the pronominal forms for‘I’ and ‘me’, common to all IE languages, should now be considered as to belong to the origins of Homo loquens, and thus to Paleolithic: for they can only represent the awakening of individual conscience. Otherwise, we would have to assume a ‘new’ discovery of human EGO either in Neolithic or in the Copper Age, a hypothesis that does not deserve a serious discussion.
He seems to have no idea that in classical times the Balkans north of Greece were inhabitated by two peoples, the Dacians, and Thracians, who spoke an Indo-European language wiped out by Roman colonisation but leaving influences in Albanian and Romanian. Really, he seems totally ignorant of this:
What and where would the pre-Indo-European substrate be in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia? Unless we associate this late migration [of the Slavs] to a gigantic genocide a phantascientific hypothesis this hypothesis does not belong to serious scientific thinking.
The Slavs were not responsible for a ‘genocide’ of the indigenous peoples, but their language had been whittled away by Roman colonisation. When the Slavs arrived, they didn’t meet the Dacians, but rather the Romanians and contributed to their lexicon considerably, as heartwarmingly explored here before.
A similar mistake occurs in his reasoning that because the Slavs were in the Carpathian basin before the arrival of the Magyars, then they must have been there forever:
Hungarian place names, in Pannonia and on the Tisza, are Slavic, as J. Stanislav has demonstrated (idem, 228).
The Slavs aren’t merely indigenous to Southern Europe, but they also had contacts with Latin, says Mr Alinei in a stomach-turning bit beginning with
The Slavo-Latin isoglosses, appearing in the social sphere (Lat. hospes ~ Slav. *gospodĭ, Latin favere ~ Slav. *goveti)…
Re-evaluating the issue of Slavic origins seems fashionable these days. Florin Curta in his The Making of the Slavs (published by no less a respectable source than Cambridge University Press) asserts that the idea of a Slavic people was a fanciful invention of the Byzantines, that historical linguists are charlatans not to be trusted, and that the Slavonic languages are not even Indo-European. I fail to see why the standard model of Slavs being pushed out of modern-day Ukraine and Belarus by marauding Turkic and Gothic peoples is not longer believable for these people.