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 in short, that originated contemporary European tongues.
Is there a root PIE vocabulary? A reasonably good acquaintance with a language should encompass the words 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 seems to refer 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 would have varied, in Sanskrit. The language is to have taken origin in rigid social stratification, for status and ancestry. “Children of men” made another name, napraja. 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 vocabulary is compared 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.
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. Within evolutionary approaches, languages may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement. Language knowledge became shared, in the process.
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 as our example, to make up a “proto-language”, we would have to create a word form that might have preceded both “dziecko” and “riebionok”. Even if we created a form as *dieriebok, it would not mean such a form ever existed. Honestly, it is unlikely.
Decent linguistic work requires a source. However, the Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique, and it covered only the Ancient Egyptian ― the glyphs and the demotic ― along with Ancient Greek. The stone allowed translation, but not an etymological study. 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 and thus does not belong with linguistic inquiries.
Regarding the psychological side to the human being, I also do not share in the enthusiasm or fascination with speculative ancient cultures. People were not more sophisticated in ancient times. Ancient languages were not more intelligent, either. Modern languages are far more economical and refined, at the same time. It is not true a language is the more advanced, the more flections it has. We can speak without looking up to “parent tongues”.
In actuality, supporters of the Proto-Indo-European “family” have gone into making own Proto-Indo-European religion. There is not a PIE root for the name “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.