Salmon problem

In Indo-European studies, the salmon problem or salmon argument[1] (also known by the German term Lachsargument[2]) is an outdated argument in favour of placing the Indo-European urheimat in the Baltic region, as opposed to the Eurasian Steppe, based on the cognate etymology of the respective words for salmon in Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages.[3] The word's wide distribution likely means it existed in its current form in a Proto-Indo-European language.[4]

The reasoning went as follows: Since the term for Atlantic salmon in the Germanic, Baltic and Slavic languages could be derived from a common Proto-Indo-European root *laḱs-,[5] the urheimat of the Indo-Europeans must be where both the languages and the object it describes can be found: Northern-Central Europe. The argument was first put forward by German philologist Otto Schrader in 1883.[6] The argument was subject to continued scholarly debate throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in German academia.

In 1953, German indologist Paul Thieme submitted that the descendants of *laḱs- found in the Caucasus described the brown trout (Salmo trutta) rather than the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).[7] American philologist George Sherman Lane concurred in a 1970 conference paper: "In my opinion, the name in question probably did refer originally not to the Salmo salar at all, but rather to the Salmo trutta caspius of the northwest Caucasus region."[8] That lent support to the Kurgan hypothesis.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Adams, Douglas Q. (1985). "PIE *lokso-, (anadromous) brown trout' and *kokso- 'groin' and their descendants in Tocharian: A coda to the Lachsargument". Indogermanische Forschungen. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (90): 72–78.
  2. ^ Schrader, Otto (1883). Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte. Linguistisch-historische Beiträge zur Erforschung des indogermanischen Altertums [Language comparison and ancient history. Linguistic-historical contributions to the investigation of Indo-European antiquity.] (1st ed.). Jena: Costenoble.
  3. ^ Diebold, A. Richard (1976). "Contributions to the Indo-European salmon problem". In Christie, William M (ed.). Current proceedings in historical linguistics. 2nd International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Tucson, 12–16 January 1976. Amsterdam: North-Holland. pp. 341–387.
  4. ^ Nurkiyazova, Sevind J (13 May 2019). "The English Word That Hasn't Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8,000 Years". Nautilus (science magazine). Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  5. ^ Miller, Gary D. (2007). "Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans" (PDF). University of Florida. Retrieved 11 July 2016. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Giacalone Ramat, Anna; Ramat, Paolo (1998). The Indo-European Languages. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-06449-1.
  7. ^ Thieme, Paul (1953). "Die Heimat der indogermanischen Gemeinsprache" [The homeland of the common Indo-European language]. Abhandlungen der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse. Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Wiesbaden (11).
  8. ^ Lane, George Sherman (1970). "Tocharian. Indo-European and Non-Indo-European Relationships.". In Cardona, George; Hoenigswald, Henry M.; Senn, Alfred (eds.). Indo-European and Indo-Europeans. Third Indo-European Conference at the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. p. 83.