Scythian languages

Scythian Languages


Scythian languages

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Scythian languages ( or ) refers to all the languages spoken by all the peoples of a vast region of Eurasia named Scythia extending from the Vistula river in East Europe to Mongolia during ancient times. Included also are some languages of eastern Iran and the Central Asian subcontinent. These peoples were at some time by some ancient authors designated as "Scythians" with the form of the name customarily known to them. Languages of many different groups and families must have been spoken by the Scythians. Their modes of subsistence varied from sedentary and agricultural to nomadic and pastoral. They were both warriors and merchants.

The dominant ethnic groups among the Scythians, however, were nomadic pastoralists of Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Fragments of their speech known from inscriptions and words quoted in ancient authors as well as analysis of their names indicate that it was of the Indo-european language family, was Indo-Iranian, Iranian and most specifically Eastern Iranian. Further classification is uncertain and elusive. Alexander Lubotsky summarizes the known linguistic landscape as follows:


The vast majority of Scythological scholars agree that the Scythian-Sarmatian languages (and Ossetic) belong to the Eastern Iranian language family — like the once widespread but now extinct Sogdian language. This Iranian hypothesis relies principally on the fact that the Greek inscriptions of the...
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