William Jones was a reported hyperpolyglot. He learned Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and basic Chinese, says Wikipedia, adding he knew thirteen languages thoroughly, and another twenty-eight reasonably well. This makes a total of 41 languages.
Mr. Jones wrote The Sanscrit Language, to tell that Greek and Latin had a common root with Sanskrit, and there must have been a Proto-Indo-European language, PIE as a cookie in short, that gave origin to contemporary European tongues.
Is there a root PIE vocabulary? A reasonably good acquaintance with a language should encompass words as woman, man, child, and house. Let us compare these words in Latin, Greek, English, Russian, Polish, German, French, and Sanskrit.
Latin: femina; Greek: gyne; English: woman; Russian: zenshchina; Polish: kobieta; German: Weib; French: femme; Sanskrit: nari.
Latin: vir; Greek: andros; English: man; Russian: muzshtschina; Polish: mężczyzna; German: Mann; French: homme; Sanskrit: naro.
I do not know Sanskrit. I can only compare resources. The morpheme –man, quoted by supporters of the PIE, yet refers to thinking, not gender, whereas it is common lore that masculinity is not strictly synonymous with pensiveness. 😉
Latin: putillus; Greek: pais; child; Russian: rebionok; Polish: dziecko; German: Kind; French: enfant; Sanskrit: sutah.
Words for children were differentiated, in Sanskrit. The language took origin in rigid social stratification for status and ancestry, says Wikipedia. “Children of men” were not sutah; they made another name, napraja, probably with regard to heirloom. We thus could not say, let us look for a common root with the PIE, because it must have been a beautiful culture.
Latin: domus; Greek: do; English: house; Russian: dom; Polish: dom; German: Haus; French: maison; Sanskrit: vasati.
Vir or andros, child or rebionok, woman or kobieta ― the words do not resemble one another, and they are the basic vocabulary that hardly ever changes. This is the vocabulary to compare for language grouping.
Polish and Russian could make a group. We may compare the words muzshtschina and mężczyzna. There is not much point deriving Polish from Russian or Russian from Polish, however. We can compare rebionok and dziecko. Language groups work better than language families. “Families” derive languages, one from another.
Why derive European vocabularies from Sanskrit, while Sanskrit might have absorbed loan words?
Proto-languages are constructs. They are theoretical guesswork. Taking the Russian and Polish words for children, we would have to create a verbal form that might have preceded both “dziecko” and “riebionok”, to make up a “proto-word”. Even if we created a form as *dieriebok, it would not mean such a form ever existed. Honestly, it is unlikely.
Let us think now, there is language A. Some people come around and they adopt, let us say, the grammar for verbs from A entirely. They do not refer to language A for everything, however. They develop language B. Further, the people to talk B make progress; they begin to come up with new words: language A begins to adopt from language B. Today, in reality, if we find a phrase or word in Sanskrit, it does not mean they have been there since the beginning of time.
Decent linguistic work requires original sources for linguistic evidence. The Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique. It yet covered only the Ancient Egyptian ― the glyphs (there is no need to say “hiero-glyphs”, unless one would like to pray to language, which could not be the best use for it) and the demotic ― along with Ancient Greek. The stone allowed translation, but not etymology. There never was anything like the Rosetta Stone, for “Indo-European” languages, and Marco Polo was probably not the first visitor to the Far East.
Whenever possible, written resources should be carbon-dated. There is no philological method to affirm the original beyond evidence. Writings were copied in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and later, hand style and pen craft.
Oldest does not mean wisest
What rationale could we find to constructing probabilistic language forms? Linguistically, there is none. Machine or otherwise constructed, a code is not a natural language.
On the side of language psychology, I do not share in the enthusiasm or fascination with speculative ancient content. Quotient always has been a matter of the human individual and education or self-study. People were not more sophisticated in ancient times. Ancient languages were not more intelligent, and within evolutionary approaches, languages may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement. Language knowledge became shared, in the process.
Similarities in form as domus, do, and dom, or house and Haus, show geographic affinity; they are characteristic to urban or other developments, and do not decide on language grouping. Well, supporters of the Proto-Indo-European “family” have gone into making own Proto-Indo-European religion. There is not a PIE root for our home planet Earth, however.
Latin: terra or tellus; Greek: Gaia or Aia; English: Earth; Russian: Ziemlia; Polish: Ziemia; German: Erde; French: Terre; Sanskrit: vasudha.
It seems there was a pie, more than the PIE, in the times of Mr. Jones, and that pie was the Company rule in India. The India colonial era began about 1500, and there was much rivalry.
Space 1999 would show reading Proto-Sanskrit accurately… 😉
My YouTube: Sanskrit Readout
The holocaust in the clip is not the Holocaust.