The Undiscovered Languages of the Ancient Indus Valley

Authors: Nasir Abbas Rizvi Syed (LUAWMS Pakistan)
Abdul Hanan (LUAWMS Pakistan)
Tooba Sahar (LUAWMS Pakistan)
Speakers: Nasir Abbas Rizvi Syed, Tooba Sahar
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The CALA 2022 General Session


A strong parallelism between Nostratic super family of languages (Bomhard, 2020) and PFC is identified, in that, PFC (post focus compression) in F0 has henceforth been found only in Nostratic languages (Xu, 2011). Therefore, it is hypothesized that PFC must have emerged once in the speech of proto-Nostratic farmers of the Fertile Crescent and spread with them in other parts of the world through the Farmers’ dispersal (Renfrew, 1999). It is further hypothesized that PFC can neither re-emerge nor spread but can be lost in social contact (Xu, 2019). This provides a logical ground to the claim that all PFC languages belong to the same Nostratic super-family. The current experiment was conducted in this perspective. Twenty native speakers from each of Sindhi, Punjabi and Saraiki, Indo-Iranian languages of Pakistan, were asked to produce selected sentences, followed by prompting questions. In response to the prompting questions, the same sentences were repeated by participants with changing focus. Acoustic analyses of these sentences show that Sindhi and Saraiki have weak PFC but Punjabi does not have this feature. This implies that the Aryan forefathers of speakers of Punjabi, Saraiki and Sindhi must have come in closer contact with the speakers of a dominant non-PFC/non-Nostratic language in the past which starkly influenced the focus prosody of these languages. In the previous literature on the history of ancient India, it has been a common view that there had been two major language families in the ancient Indus Valley namely Dravidian and Aryans. But, the latest studies of the genes of Indian Population show that there had also existed some other non-Nostratic groups along with Dravidians and Aryans. The current study also supports the same idea on the basis of evidence obtained from acoustic analysis of focus prosody in three Indo-the Aryan languages of the Indus Valley.


Bomhard, A. R. (2020). A Comprehensive Introduction to Nostratic Comparative Linguistics with Special Reference to Indo-European (Revised ed. Vol. 1). Florence: SC.
Renfrew, C. (1999). Time depth, convergence theory, and innovation in Proto-Indo-European:’Old Europe’as a PIE linguistic area. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 27(3-4), 257-293.
Xu, Y. (2011). Post-focus compression: Cross-linguistics distribution and historical origin. Paper presented at the Proccesing of International Conference of Phonetic Science Hong Kong.
Xu, Y. (2019). Prosody, Tone and Intonation. In a. P. F. A. W. F. Katz (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Phonetics (pp. 314-356). New York: Routledge.

Keywords: Post focus compression, Farmers\’ Dispersal Hypothesis, Nostratic family hypothesis, Indus Valley