Kalevi Wiik

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Kalevi Wiik

Kaino Kalevi Wiik (2 August 1932, Turku — 12 September 2015, Turku) was a professor of phonetics at the University of Turku, Finland. He was best known for his controversial hypotheses about the effect of the Uralic contact influence on the creation of various Indo-European proto languages in northern Europe, such as Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic. He also bases much of his hypothetical structures on results of genetics. Ludomir R Lozny states that "Wiik’s controversial ideas are rejected by the majority of the scholarly community, but they have attracted the enormous interest of a wider audience."[1]


Wiik proposes[2] Indo-European origins in Southeast Europe, using linguistic, genetic, archaeological and anthropological data which he interprets to support his hypotheses. He believes that from 23,000-8000 BC (the last Ice Age), inhabitation in Europe was in three main regions, refugios, whose populations then came to divide Europe between themselves. Western 'Basque' Europe and Northern 'Uralic' Europe were inhabited by hunters of large animals which were abundant during that period and spoke languages related respectively to modern Basque and Uralic. The rest of Europe was inhabited by hunters of smaller animals and was fragmented into many smaller unknown languages.

By 5500 BC the extinction of many large species of animals reduced the inhabitants of the Western and Northern regions to hunting small-game. The inhabitants of South-East Europe (hypothesized to have spread from the third, Balkan refugio) had adopted the Neolithic way of life of mixed farming and animal husbandry and were becoming economically more successful. Early farmers diffusing from Greece and the Balkans gave rise to Indo-European, serving as a lingua franca of the inhabitants of region X and displacing or gradually converting linguistically the less successful hunters from the other regions.

Wiik suggests that at the periphery of the Indo-European language expansion, the Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Iberian languages were formed; these were Indo-European flavored with many elements from the languages of the hunters: Basque and Uralic. He claims the Post-Swiderian people (originating from western Poland) as Finnic-Ugric, and the Saami as migrants from (Magdalenian) Western Europe that changed their original language, probably Basque-like, to a Uralic tongue.

Thus, Wiik proposes that eventually most of Europe was Indo-Europeanized as many of the Basque and Uralic speaking hunters adopted IE languages. Only in the periphery of the European continent, in the Iberian peninsula and in Northeast Europe strong nuclei of hunters apparently adopted farming without being linguistically converted: modern Basque and Finnish speakers are descendants of mostly these early hunters of the Ice Age. Everywhere else, the Indo-European languages which originated in Southeast Europe, have won the upper hand. The key proposition in Wiik's hypothesis is the phonetics-derived idea that the Finnic-Ugric and Basque populations who adopted the fashionable Indo-European language to replace their own, learned their new language a bit badly and used pronunciations in a way familiar to their birth language, which all gave rise to the new languages, Germanic, Slavic and Baltic, as well as Celtic and Iberian. In essence, Wiik suggests that Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, Celtic and Iberian did not emerge from Indoeuropeans themselves, but among the Finnic-Ugric and Proto-Basque populations. This would make the Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, Celtic and Iberian populations genetically as descendants not of Indo-Europeans, but of Finnic-Ugric and Proto-Basque respectively, a claim not fully supported by any genetic evidence.

In “Where Did European Men Come From”[3] Wiik surveyed Y chromosome variation in Europeans and in accordance with his position that “The men of the Balkan refuge were more likely than those of any other to have spoken an early form of the Indo-European language.”

Wiik's views have gained a lot of critique. The possible linguistic substrate in Germanic seems to have nothing in common with Uralic languages, and there is no evidence for Uralic languages ever having been spoken in Central Europe, as opposed to northern and eastern Europe where they attestedly were spoken.


  1. ^ Lozny, Ludomir R. (2011). Comparative Archaeologies: A Sociological View of the Science of the Past. Springer. p. 156. ISBN 978-1-4419-8224-7. 
  2. ^ Wiik, Kalevi: Europe's oldest language?
  3. ^ Wiik, Kalevi: Where Did European Men Come From. Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 4:35-85, 2008)

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