Aryan

"Aryan" (/ˈɛəriən/)[1] is a term that was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people.[note 1] The word was used by the Indic people of the Vedic period in India as an ethnic label for themselves and to refer to the noble class as well as the geographic region known as Āryāvarta, where Indo-Aryan culture is based.[2][3] The closely related Iranian people also used the term as an ethnic label for themselves in the Avesta scriptures, and the word forms the etymological source of the country name Iran.[4][5][6][7] It was believed in the 19th century that Aryan was also a self-designation used by all Proto-Indo-Europeans, a theory that has now been abandoned.[8] Scholars point out that, even in ancient times, the idea of being an "Aryan" was religious, cultural and linguistic, not racial.[9][10][11]

Drawing on misinterpreted references in the Rig Veda by Western scholars in the 19th century, the term "Aryan" was adopted as a racial category through the works of Arthur de Gobineau, whose ideology of race was based on an idea of blonde northern European "Aryans" who had migrated across the world and founded all major civilizations, before being diluted through racial mixing with local populations. Through the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Gobineau's ideas later influenced the Nazi racial ideology which saw "Aryan peoples" as innately superior to other putative racial groups.[12]

The atrocities committed in the name of this racial ideology have led academics to avoid the term "Aryan", which has been replaced, in most cases, by "Indo-Iranian".

Etymology

The English word "Aryan" (originally spelt "Arian") was borrowed from the Sanskrit word ārya,[8] आर्य, in the 18th century [5][7][13] and thought to be the self-designation used by all Indo-European people.[14][15]

Origins

Darius I the Great's inscription
The earliest epigraphically attested reference to the word arya occurs in the 6th-century BC Behistun inscription, which describes itself as having been composed "in arya [language or script]" (§ 70). As is also the case for all other Old Iranian language usage, the arya of the inscription does not signify anything but "Iranian".[16]

Philologist J.P. Mallory argues that "As an ethnic designation, the word [Aryan] is most properly limited to the Indo-Iranians, and most justly to the latter where it still gives its name to the country Iran.[4]

Sanskrit

In early Vedic literature, the term Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, abode of the Aryans) was the name given to northern India, where the Indo-Aryan culture was based. The Manusmṛti (2.22) gives the name Āryāvarta to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea)".[2][17]

Initially the term was used as a national name to designate those who worshipped the Vedic deities (especially Indra) and followed Vedic culture (e.g. performance of sacrifice, Yajna).[5][18]

Proto-Indo-Iranian

The Sanskrit term comes from proto-Indo-Iranian *arya-[8][note 1] [19][20] or *aryo-,[21][note 2] the name used by the Indo-Iranians to designate themselves.[22][8][note 3][21] The Zend airya 'venerable' and Old Persian ariya are also derivates of *aryo-,[21] and are also self-designations.[5][23][note 4]

In Iranian languages, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like "Alans" and "Iron".[25] Similarly, the name of Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryans.[26]

Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranians

The Proto-Indo-Iranian term is hypothesized to have proto-Indo-European origins,[19][20] while according to Szemerényi it is probably a Near-Eastern loanword from the Ugaritic ary, kinsmen.[27]

It has been postulated the Proto-Indo-European root word is *haerós with the meanings "members of one's own (ethnic) group, peer, freeman" as well as the Indo-Iranian meaning of Aryan. Derived from it were words like[28]

  • the Hittite prefix arā- meaning member of one's own group, peer, companion and friend;
  • Old Irish aire, meaning "freeman" and "noble"
  • Gaulish personal names with Ario-
  • Avestan airya- meaning Aryan, Iranian in the larger sense
  • Old Indic ari- meaning attached to, faithful, devoted person and kinsman
  • Old Indic aryá- meaning kind, favourable, attached to and devoted
  • Old Indic árya- meaning Aryan, faithful to the Vedic religion.

The word *haerós itself is believed to have come from the root *haer- meaning "put together". The original meaning in Proto-Indo-European had a clear emphasis on the "in-group status" as distinguished from that of outsiders, particularly those captured and incorporated into the group as slaves. While in Anatolia, the base word has come to emphasize personal relationship, in Indo-Iranian the word has taken a more ethnic meaning.[28]

A review of numerous other ideas, and the various problems with each is given by Oswald Szemerényi.[20]

Usage

Scholarly usage

Contemporary usage

The term "Aryan" is used by Indian nationalists and Iranian nationalists to refer themselves.[31][32][33]

ArnoBrekerDiePartei
Arno Breker's sculpture Die Partei (The Party), demonstrating the ideal characteristics of a Nordic Aryan.

During the 19th century it was proposed that "Aryan" was also the self-designation of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.[8] Based on speculations that the Proto-Indo-European homeland was located in northern Europe, a 19th-century hypothesis which is now abandoned, the word developed a racialist meaning.[8]

The Nazis used the word "Aryan" to describe people in a racial sense. The Nazi official Alfred Rosenberg believed that the Nordic race was descended from Proto-Aryans, who he believed had prehistorically dwelt on the North German Plain and who had ultimately originated from the lost continent of Atlantis.[34] According to Nazi racial theory, the term "Aryan" described the Germanic peoples.[35] However, a satisfactory definition of "Aryan" remained problematic during Nazi Germany.[36]

The Nazis considered the purest Aryans to be those that belonged to the "Nordic race" physical ideal, known as the "master race" during Nazi Germany.[note 5] Although the physical ideal of the Nazi racial theorists was typically the tall, fair-haired and light-eyed Nordic individual, such theorists accepted the fact that a considerable variety of hair and eye colour existed within the racial categories they recognised. For example, Adolf Hitler and many Nazi officials had dark hair and were still considered members of the Aryan race under Nazi racial doctrine, because the determination of an individual's racial type depended on a preponderance of many characteristics in an individual rather than on just one defining feature.[38]

In September 1935, the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws. All Aryan Reich citizens were required to prove their Aryan ancestry, one way was to obtain an Ahnenpass by providing proof through baptismal certificates that all four grandparents were of Aryan descent.[39]

In December 1935, the Nazis founded Lebensborn to counteract the falling Aryan birth rates in Germany, and to promote Nazi eugenics.[40]

Usage and adaptation in other languages

In Indian/Sanskrit literature

In Sanskrit and related Indic languages, ārya means "one who does noble deeds; a noble one". Āryāvarta "abode of the āryas" is a common name for North India in Sanskrit literature. Manusmṛti (2.22) gives the name to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern Sea to the Western Sea".[41] The title ārya was used with various modifications throughout the Indian Subcontinent. Kharavela, the Emperor of Kalinga in second century BCE, is referred to as an ārya in the Hathigumpha inscriptions of the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The Gurjara-Pratihara rulers in the 10th century were titled "Maharajadhiraja of Āryāvarta".[42] Various Indian religions, chiefly Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, use the term ārya as an epithet of honour; a similar usage is found in the name of Arya Samaj.

In Ramayana and Mahabharata, ārya is used as an honorific for many characters including Hanuman.

Centum Satem map
Indo-European language throughout Europe and the Middle East, c. 500 BCE

In Iranian literature

Unlike the several meanings connected with ārya- in Old Indo-Aryan, the Old Persian term only has an ethnic meaning.[43][44] That is in contrast to Indian usage, in which several secondary meanings evolved, the meaning of ar- as a self-identifier is preserved in Iranian usage, hence the word "Iran". The airya meant "Iranian", and Iranian anairya [23][45] meant and means "non-Iranian". Arya may also be found as an ethnonym in Iranian languages, e.g., Alan and Persian Iran and Ossetian Ir/Iron[45] The name is itself equivalent to Aryan, where Iran means "land of the Aryans,"[23][44][45][46][47][48][49][50] and has been in use since Sassanid times.[48][49]

The Avesta clearly uses airya/airyan as an ethnic name (Vd. 1; Yt. 13.143-44, etc.), where it appears in expressions such as airyāfi; daiŋˊhāvō "Iranian lands, peoples", airyō.šayanəm "land inhabited by Iranians", and airyanəm vaējō vaŋhuyāfi; dāityayāfi; "Iranian stretch of the good Dāityā", the river Oxus, the modern Āmū Daryā.[44] Old Persian sources also use this term for Iranians. Old Persian which is a testament to the antiquity of the Persian language and which is related to most of the languages/dialects spoken in Iran including modern Persian, the Kurdish languages, Balochi, and Gilaki makes it clear that Iranians referred to themselves as Arya.

The term "Airya/Airyan" appears in the royal Old Persian inscriptions in three different contexts:

  1. As the name of the language of the Old Persian version of the inscription of Darius I in Behistun
  2. As the ethnic background of Darius I in inscriptions at Naqsh-e-Rostam and Susa (Dna, Dse) and Xerxes I in the inscription from Persepolis (Xph)
  3. As the definition of the God of the Aryans, Ahura Mazdā, in the Elamite language version of the Behistun inscription.[23][44][45]

For example in the Dna and Dse Darius and Xerxes describe themselves as "An Achaemenian, A Persian son of a Persian and an Aryan, of Aryan stock".[51] Although Darius the Great called his language the Aryan language,[51] modern scholars refer to it as Old Persian[51] because it is the ancestor of modern Persian language.[52]

The Old Persian and Avestan evidence is confirmed by the Greek sources.[44] Herodotus in his Histories remarks about the Iranian Medes that: "These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; " (7.62).[23][44][45] In Armenian sources, the Parthians, Medes and Persians are collectively referred to as Aryans.[53] Eudemus of Rhodes apud Damascius (Dubitationes et solutiones in Platonis Parmenidem 125 bis) refers to "the Magi and all those of Iranian (áreion) lineage"; Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) considers Zoroaster (Zathraustēs) as one of the Arianoi.[44]

Strabo, in his Geography, mentions the unity of Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Sogdians:[47]

The name of Ariana is further extended to a part of Persia and of Media, as also to the Bactrians and Sogdians on the north; for these speak approximately the same language, with but slight variations.

— Geography, 15.8

The trilingual inscription erected by Shapur's command gives us a more clear description. The languages used are Parthian, Middle Persian and Greek. In Greek the inscription says: "ego ... tou Arianon ethnous despotes eimi" which translates to "I am the king of the Aryans". In the Middle Persian Shapour says: "I am the Lord of the EranShahr" and in Parthian he says: "I am the Lord of AryanShahr".[48][54]

The Bactrian language (a Middle Iranian language) inscription of Kanishka the Great, the founder of the Kushan Empire at Rabatak, which was discovered in 1993 in an unexcavated site in the Afghanistan province of Baghlan, clearly refers to this Eastern Iranian language as Arya.[55][56] In the post-Islamic era one can still see a clear usage of the term Aryan (Iran) in the work of the 10th-century historian Hamzah al-Isfahani. In his famous book "The History of Prophets and Kings", al-Isfahani writes, "Aryan which is also called Pars is in the middle of these countries and these six countries surround it because the South East is in the hands China, the North of the Turks, the middle South is India, the middle North is Rome, and the South West and the North West is the Sudan and Berber lands".[57] All this evidence shows that the name arya "Iranian" was a collective definition, denoting peoples (Geiger, pp. 167 f.; Schmitt, 1978, p. 31) who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of Ahura Mazdā.[44]

In Iranian languages, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like "Alans", "Iron".[45] Similarly, The word Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryan.[26]

In Latin literature

The word Arianus was used to designate Ariana,[58] the area comprising North-western India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.[59] In 1601, Philemon Holland used 'Arianes' in his translation of the Latin Arianus to designate the inhabitants of Ariana. This was the first use of the form Arian verbatim in the English language.[60][61][62] In 1844 James Cowles Prichard first designated both the Indians and the Iranians "Arians" under the false assumption that the Iranians as well as the Indians self-designated themselves Aria. The Iranians did use the form Airya as a designation for the "Aryans," but Prichard had mistaken Aria (deriving from OPer. Haravia) as a designation of the "Aryans" and associated the Aria with the place-name Ariana (Av. Airyana), the homeland of the Aryans.[63] The form Aria as a designation of the "Aryans" was, however, only preserved in the language of the Indo-Aryans.

In European languages

The term "Aryan" came to be used as the term for the newly discovered Indo-European languages, and, by extension, the original speakers of those languages. In the 19th century, "language" was considered a property of "ethnicity", and thus the speakers of the Indo-Iranian or Indo-European languages came to be called the "Aryan race", as contradistinguished from what came to be called the "Semitic race". By the late 19th century, among some people, the notions of an "Aryan race" became closely linked to Nordicism, which posited Northern European racial superiority over all other peoples. This "master race" ideal engendered both the "Aryanization" programs of Nazi Germany, in which the classification of people as "Aryan" and "non-Aryan" was most emphatically directed towards the exclusion of Jews.[64][note 6] By the end of World War II, the word 'Aryan' had become associated by many with the racial ideologies and atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Western notions of an "Aryan race" rose to prominence in late-19th- and early-20th-century racialism, an idea most notably embraced by Nazism. The Nazis believed that the "Nordic peoples" (who were also referred to as the "Germanic peoples") represent an ideal and "pure race" that was the purest representation of the original racial stock of those who were then called the Proto-Aryans.[65] The Nazi Party declared that the "Nordics" were the true Aryans because they claimed that they were more "pure" (less racially mixed) than other people of what were then called the "Aryan people".[66]

History

Before the 19th century

While the original meaning of Indo-Iranian *arya as a self-designator is uncontested, the origin of the word (and thus also its original meaning) remains uncertain.[note 7] Indo-Iranian ar- is a syllable ambiguous in origin, from Indo-European ar-, er-, or or-.[23] No evidence for a Proto-Indo-European (as opposed to Indo-Iranian) ethnic name like "Aryan" has been found. The word was used by Herodotus in reference to the Iranian Medes whom he describes as the people who "were once universally known as Aryans".[67]

The meaning of 'Aryan' that was adopted into the English language in the late 18th century was the one associated with the technical term used in comparative philology, which in turn had the same meaning as that evident in the very oldest Old Indic usage, i.e. as a (self-) identifier of "(speakers of) North Indian languages".[62][note 8] This usage was simultaneously influenced by a word that appeared in classical sources (Latin and Greek Ἀριάνης Arianes, e.g. in Pliny 1.133 and Strabo 15.2.1–8), and recognized to be the same as that which appeared in living Iranian languages, where it was a (self-)identifier of the "(speakers of) Iranian languages". Accordingly, 'Aryan' came to refer to the languages of the Indo-Iranian language group, and by extension, native speakers of those languages.[68]

Avestan

The term Arya is used in ancient Persian language texts, for example in the Behistun inscription from the 5th century BCE, in which the Persian kings Darius the Great and Xerxes are described as "Aryans of Aryan stock" (arya arya chiça). The inscription also refers to the deity Ahura Mazda as "the god of the Aryans", and to the ancient Persian language as "Aryan". In this sense the word seems to have referred to the elite culture of the ancient Iranians, including both linguistic, cultural and religious aspects. [67][69] The word also has a central place in the Zoroastrian religion in which the "Aryan expanse" (Airyana Vaejah) is described as the mythical homeland of the Iranian people's and as the center of the world.[70]

Vedic Sanskrit

The term Arya is used 36 times in 34 hymns in the Rigveda. According to Talageri (2000, The Rig Veda. A Historical Analysis) "the particular Vedic Aryans of the Rigveda were one section among these Purus, who called themselves Bharatas." Thus it is possible, according to Talageri, that at one point Arya did refer to a specific tribe.

While the word may ultimately derive from a tribal name, already in the Rigveda it appears as a religious distinction, separating those who sacrifice "properly" from those who do not belong to the historical Vedic religion, presaging the usage in later Hinduism where the term comes to denote religious righteousness or piety. In RV 9.63.5, ârya "noble, pious, righteous" is used as contrasting with árāvan "not liberal, envious, hostile":

índraṃ várdhanto aptúraḥ kṛṇvánto víśvam âryam apaghnánto árāvṇaḥ
"[the Soma-drops], performing every noble work, active, augmenting Indra's strength, driving away the godless ones." (trans. Griffith)

Sanskrit epics

Arya and Anarya are primarily used in the moral sense in the Hindu Epics. People are usually called Arya or Anarya based on their behaviour. Arya is typically one who follows the Dharma. This is historically applicable for any person living anywhere in Bharata Varsha or vast India. According to the Mahabharata, a person's behaviour (not wealth or learning) determines if he can be called an Arya.[71][72]

Religious use

The word ārya is often found in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain texts. In the Indian spiritual context, it can be applied to Rishis or to someone who has mastered the four noble truths and entered upon the spiritual path. According to Nehru, the religions of India may be called collectively ārya dharma, a term that includes the religions that originated in India (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and possibly Sikhism).[73]

"O my Lord, a person who is chanting Your holy name, although born of a low family like that of a Chandala, is situated on the highest platform of self-realization. Such a person must have performed all kinds of penances and sacrifices according to Vedic literatures many, many times after taking bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage. Such a person is considered to be the best of the Arya family" (Bhagavata Purana 3.33.7).

"My dear Lord, one's occupational duty is instructed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā according to Your point of view, which never deviates from the highest goal of life. Those who follow their occupational duties under Your supervision, being equal to all living entities, moving and nonmoving, and not considering high and low, are called Āryans. Such Āryans worship You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.43).

According to Swami Vivekananda, "A child materially born is not an Arya; the child born in spirituality is an Arya." He further elaborated, referring to the Manu Smriti: "Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Arya, 'He is the Arya, who is born through prayer.' Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver: The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented – what can we expect of such progeny?..."(Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works vol.8)

Swami Dayananda founded a Dharmic organisation Arya Samaj in 1875. Sri Aurobindo published a journal combining nationalism and spiritualism under the title Arya from 1914 to 1921.

The word ārya (Pāli: ariya), in the sense of "noble" or "exalted", is very frequently used in Buddhist texts to designate a spiritual warrior or hero, which use this term much more often than Hindu or Jain texts. Buddha's Dharma and Vinaya are the ariyassa dhammavinayo. The Four Noble Truths are called the catvāry āryasatyāni (Sanskrit) or cattāri ariyasaccāni (Pali). The Noble Eightfold Path is called the āryamārga (Sanskrit, also āryāṣṭāṅgikamārga) or ariyamagga (Pāli). Buddhists themselves are called ariyapuggalas (Arya persons). In Buddhist texts, the āryas are those who have the Buddhist śīla (Pāli sīla, meaning "virtue") and follow the Buddhist path. Those who despise Buddhism are often called "anāryas".

The word Arya is also often used in Jainism, in Jain texts such as the Pannavanasutta.

19th century

In the 19th century, linguists still supposed that the age of a language determined its "superiority" (because it was assumed to have genealogical purity). Then, based on the assumption that Sanskrit was the oldest Indo-European language, and the (now known to be untenable)[74] position that Irish Éire was etymologically related to "Aryan", in 1837 Adolphe Pictet popularized the idea that the term "Aryan" could also be applied to the entire Indo-European language family as well. The groundwork for this thought had been laid by Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron. [75]

In particular, German scholar Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel published in 1819 the first theory linking the Indo-Iranian and the German languages under the Aryan group.[37][76] In 1830 Karl Otfried Müller used "Arier" in his publications.[77]

Theories of Aryan invasion

Translating the sacred Indian texts of the Rig Veda in the 1840s, German linguist Friedrich Max Muller found what he believed to be evidence of an ancient invasion of India by Hindu Brahmins, a group he described as "the Arya". Muller was careful to note in his later work that he thought Aryan was a linguistic category rather than a racial one. Nevertheless, scholars used Muller's invasion theory to propose their own visions of racial conquest through South Asia and the Indian Ocean. In 1885, the New Zealand polymath Edward Tregear argued that an "Aryan tidal-wave" had washed over India and continued to push south, through the islands of the East Indian archipelago, reaching the distant shores of New Zealand. Scholars such as John Batchelor, Armand de Quatrefages, and Daniel Brinton extended this invasion theory to the Philippines, Hawaii, and Japan, identifying indigenous peoples who they believed were the descendants of early Aryan conquerors.[78]

In the 1850s Arthur de Gobineau supposed that "Aryan" corresponded to the suggested prehistoric Indo-European culture (1853–1855, Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races). Further, de Gobineau believed that there were three basic races – white, yellow and black – and that everything else was caused by race miscegenation, which de Gobineau argued was the cause of chaos. The "master race", according to de Gobineau, were the Northern European "Aryans", who had remained "racially pure". Southern Europeans (to include Spaniards and Southern Frenchmen), Eastern Europeans, North Africans, Middle Easterners, Iranians, Central Asians, Indians, he all considered racially mixed, degenerated through the miscegenation, and thus less than ideal.

By the 1880s a number of linguists and anthropologists argued that the "Aryans" themselves had originated somewhere in northern Europe. A specific region began to crystallize when the linguist Karl Penka (Die Herkunft der Arier. Neue Beiträge zur historischen Anthropologie der europäischen Völker, 1886) popularized the idea that the "Aryans" had emerged in Scandinavia and could be identified by the distinctive Nordic characteristics of blond hair and blue eyes. The distinguished biologist Thomas Henry Huxley agreed with him, coining the term "Xanthochroi" to refer to fair-skinned Europeans (as opposed to darker Mediterranean peoples, who Huxley called "Melanochroi").[79]

Passing of the Great Race - Map 4
Madison Grant's vision of the distribution of "Nordics" (red), "Alpines" (green) and "Mediterraneans" (yellow).
Ripley map of cephalic index in Europe
William Z. Ripley's map of the "cephalic index" in Europe, from The Races of Europe (1899).

This "Nordic race" theory gained traction following the publication of Charles Morris's The Aryan Race (1888), which touches racist ideology. A similar rationale was followed by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in his book L'Aryen et son rôle social (1899, "The Aryan and his Social Role"). To this idea of "races", Vacher de Lapouge espoused what he termed selectionism, and which had two aims: first, achieving the annihilation of trade unionists, considered "degenerate"; second, the prevention of labour dissatisfaction through the creation of "types" of man, each "designed" for one specific task (See the novel Brave New World for a fictional treatment of this idea).

Meanwhile, in India, the British colonial government had followed de Gobineau's arguments along another line, and had fostered the idea of a superior "Aryan race" that co-opted the Indian caste system in favor of imperial interests.[80][81] In its fully developed form, the British-mediated interpretation foresaw a segregation of Aryan and non-Aryan along the lines of caste, with the upper castes being "Aryan" and the lower ones being "non-Aryan". The European developments not only allowed the British to identify themselves as high-caste, but also allowed the Brahmans to view themselves as on-par with the British. Further, it provoked the reinterpretation of Indian history in racialist and, in opposition, Indian Nationalist terms,[80][81] and – in following a special interpretation of Max Müller's identification of "Aryan" as a national name – this gave rise recently among Hindu nationalists (the "Saffron Brigade") to the "indigenous Aryans" or so-called "Out of India" theory, disputed by many scholars in academia, which seeks an Indian origin of the Indo-European "Aryans".

In The Secret Doctrine (1888), Helena Petrovna Blavatsky described the "Aryan root race" as the fifth of seven "Root races", dating their souls as having begun to incarnate about a million years ago in Atlantis. The Semites were a subdivision of the Aryan root race. "The occult doctrine admits of no such divisions as the Aryan and the Semite, ... The Semites, especially the Arabs, are later Aryans — degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality. To these belong all the Jews and the Arabs." The Jews, according to Blavatsky, were a "tribe descended from the Tchandalas of India," as they were born of Abraham, which she believed to be a corruption of a word meaning "No Brahmin".[82] Other sources suggest the origin Avram or Aavram.

The name for the Sassanian Empire in Middle Persian is Eran Shahr which means Aryan Empire.[83] In the aftermath of the Islamic conquest in Iran, racialist rhetoric became a literary idiom during the 7th century, i.e., when the Arabs became the primary "Other" – the anaryas – and the antithesis of everything Iranian (i.e. Aryan) and Zoroastrian. But "the antecedents of [present-day] Iranian ultra-nationalism can be traced back to the writings of late nineteenth-century figures such as Mirza Fatali Akhundov and Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani. Demonstrating affinity with Orientalist views of the supremacy of the Aryan peoples and the mediocrity of the Semitic peoples, Iranian nationalist discourse idealized pre-Islamic [Achaemenid and Sassanid] empires, whilst negating the 'Islamization' of Persia by Muslim forces."[84] In the 20th century, different aspects of this idealization of a distant past would be instrumentalized by both the Pahlavi monarchy (In 1967, Iran's Pahlavi dynasty [overthrown in the 1979 Iranian Revolution] added the title Āryāmehr Light of the Aryans to the other styles of the Iranian monarch, the Shah of Iran being already known at that time as the Shahanshah (King of Kings)), and by the Islamic republic that followed it; the Pahlavis used it as a foundation for anticlerical monarchism, and the clerics used it to exalt Iranian values vis-á-vis westernization.[85]

20th century

Birth of a nation Aryan quote
An intertitle from the silent film blockbuster The Birth of a Nation (1915). "Aryan birthright" is here "white birthright", the "defense" of which unites "whites" in the Northern and Southern U.S. against "coloreds". In another film of the same year, The Aryan, William S. Hart's "Aryan" identity is defined in distinction from other peoples.

In the United States, the best-selling 1907 book Race Life of the Aryan Peoples by Joseph Pomeroy Widney consolidated in the popular mind the idea that the word "Aryan" is the proper identification for "all Indo-Europeans", and that "Aryan Americans" of the "Aryan race" are destined to fulfill America's manifest destiny to form an American Empire.[86]

Gordon Childe would later regret it, but the depiction of Aryans as possessors of a "superior language" became a matter of national pride in learned circles of Germany (portrayed against the background that World War I was lost because Germany had been betrayed from within by miscegenation and the "corruption" of socialist trade unionists and other "degenerates").

Alfred Rosenberg—one of the principal architects of Nazi ideological creed—argued for a new "religion of the blood", based on the supposed innate promptings of the Nordic soul to defend its "noble" character against racial and cultural degeneration. Under Rosenberg, the theories of Arthur de Gobineau, Georges Vacher de Lapouge, Blavatsky, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Madison Grant, and those of Hitler,[87] all culminated in Nazi Germany's race policies and the "Aryanization" decrees of the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s. In its "appalling medical model", the annihilation of the "racially inferior" Untermenschen was sanctified as the excision of a diseased organ in an otherwise healthy body,[88] which led to the Holocaust.

Map of Vedic India
In academic scholarship, the only surviving use of the word "Aryan" among many scholars is that of the term "Indo-Aryan", which indicates "(speakers of) languages descended from Prakrits". Older usage to mean "(speakers of) Indo-Iranian languages" has been superseded among some scholars by the term "Indo-Iranian"; however, "Aryan" is still used to mean "Indo-Iranian" by other scholars such as Josef Wiesehofer and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. The 19th-century meaning of "Aryan" as (native speakers of) Indo-European languages" is no longer used by most scholars, but has continued among some scholars such as Colin Renfrew, and among some authors writing for the popular mass market such as H.G. Wells and Poul Anderson.

By the end of World War II, the word "Aryan" among a number of people had lost its Romantic or idealist connotations and was associated by many with Nazi racism instead.

By then, the term "Indo-Iranian" and "Indo-European" had made most uses of the term "Aryan" superfluous in the eyes of a number of scholars, and "Aryan" now survives in most scholarly usage only in the term "Indo-Aryan" to indicate (speakers of) North Indian languages. It has been asserted by one scholar that Indo-Aryan and Aryan may not be equated and that such an equation is not supported by the historical evidence,[89] though this extreme viewpoint is not widespread.

The use of the term to designate speakers of all Indo-European languages in scholarly usage is now regarded by some scholars as an "aberration to be avoided."[90] However, some authors writing for popular consumption have continued using the word "Aryan" for "all Indo-Europeans" in the tradition of H. G. Wells,[91][92] such as the science fiction author Poul Anderson,[93] and scientists writing for the popular media, such as Colin Renfrew.[94] Notions of the "Aryan race" as an elite group that is regarded as being superior to other races survive in some far-right European groups, such as Neo-Nazi parties, Russian ultra-nationalists, as well as in certain Iranian nationalist groups.

Echoes of "the 19th century prejudice about 'northern' Aryans who were confronted on Indian soil with black barbarians [...] can still be heard in some modern studies."[89] In a socio-political context, the claim of a white, European Aryan race that includes only people of the Western and not the Eastern branch of the Indo-European peoples is entertained by certain circles, usually representing white nationalists who call for the halting of non-white immigration into Europe and limiting immigration into the United States. They argue that a large intrusion of immigrants can lead to ethnic conflicts such as the 2005 Cronulla riots in Australia and the 2005 civil unrest in France. The invasion theory, has however been questioned by several scholars.[95]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Fortson, IV: "The Sanskrit word ārya-, the source of the English word, was the self-designation of the Vedic Indic people and has a cognate in Iranian *arya, where it is also a self-designation.[8]
  2. ^ J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams: "Our ability to reconstruct a Proto Indo-Iranian intermediate between Proto-Indo-European on the one hand and Proto-Indic and Proto-Iranian is also supported by the self-designation, *aryo-."[21]
  3. ^ Both the Indic and Iranian terms descend from a form *ārya that was used by the Indo-Iranian tribes to refer to themselves. (It is also the source of the country-name Iran, from a phrase meaning 'kingdom of the Aryans'.)"[8]
  4. ^ Avestan airya may also be connected with Indo-Iranian *ara-.[24][a]
  5. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states at the beginning of its definition, "[it] is one of the ironies of history that Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. "[37]
  6. ^ Under the 1933 Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, a non-Aryan was defined as "an individual descended from a non-Aryan (in particular Jewish parents or grandparents)" (Campt 2004, p. 143).
  7. ^ There is no shortage of ideas, even in the present day. For a summary of the etymological problems involved, see Siegert 1941–1942.
  8. ^ The context being religious, Max Müller understood this to especially mean "the worshipers of the gods of the Brahmans". If this is seen from the point of view of the religious poets of the RigVedic hymns, an 'Aryan' was then a person who held the same religious convictions as the poet himself. This idea can then also be found in Iranian texts.
  1. ^ Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin: "It thus seems that Ved. arya and Avest. airya are to be connected [...] with a Vedic homophone ari-, aryá- 'righteous, loyal, devout', and with Indo-Iranian *ara- 'fitting, proper'" [24]

References

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  2. ^ a b Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 70.
  3. ^ Michael Cook (2014), Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective, Princeton University Press, p.68: "Aryavarta [...] is defined by Manu as extending from the great Himalayas in the north to the Vindhyas of Central India in the south and from the sea in the west to the sea in the east."
  4. ^ a b Mallory 1991, p. 125.
  5. ^ a b c d Oxford English Dictionary: "Aryan from Sanskrit Arya 'Noble'"
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: " ...the Sanskrit term arya ("noble" or "distinguished"), the linguistic root of the word (Aryan)..." "It is now used in linguistics only in the sense of the term Indo-Aryan languages, a branch of the larger Indo-European language family" [1]
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  9. ^ Anthony 2007, p. 11.
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  35. ^ Davies, Norman (2006). Europe at War: 1939-1945 : No Simple Victory, p. 167
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  38. ^ "The range of blond hair color in pure Nordic peoples runs from flaxen and red to shades of chestnut and brown... It must be clearly understood that blondness of hair and of eye is not a final test of Nordic race. The Nordics include all the blonds, and also those of darker hair or eye when possessed of a preponderance of other Nordic characters. In this sense the word "blond" means those lighter shades of hair or eye color in contrast to the very dark or black shades which are termed brunet. The meaning of "blond" as now used is therefore not limited to the lighter or flaxen shades as in colloquial speech. In England among Nordic populations there are large numbers of individuals with hazel brown eyes joined with the light brown or chestnut hair which is the typical hair shade of the English and Americans. This combination is also common in Holland and Westphalia and is frequently associated with a very fair skin. These men are all of "blond" aspect and constitution and consequently are to be classed as members of the Nordic race." Quoted in Grant, 1922, p. 26.
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Bibliography

Aryan Brotherhood

The Aryan Brotherhood, also known as the Brand or the AB, is a white prison gang and organized crime syndicate in the United States with an estimated 15,000–20,000 members in and out of prison. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Aryan Brotherhood makes up an extremely low percentage of the entire US prison population but is responsible for a disproportionately large number of prison murders.

The gang has focused on the economic activities typical of organized crime entities, particularly drug trafficking, extortion, inmate prostitution, and murder-for-hire. Organization of its whites-only membership varies from prison to prison but is generally hierarchical, headed by a twelve-man council topped by a three-man commission. The group has an affiliation with Aryan Nations, and various alliances and rivalries with other prison gangs. The Aryan Brotherhood uses various terms, symbols, and images to identify themselves, including shamrocks, swastikas, and other symbols. To join, members may swear a blood oath or take a pledge; acceptance into the Aryan Brotherhood is aided by a prospect's willingness to kill a black or a Hispanic prisoner.

Aryan Nations

Aryan Nations is an anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, white supremacist terrorist organization originally based in Hayden, Idaho. Richard Girnt Butler founded the group in the 1970s, as an arm of the Christian Identity organization Church of Jesus Christ–Christian. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has called Aryan Nations a "terrorist threat", and the RAND Corporation has called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the United States.

Aryan race

The Aryan race is a racial grouping that emerged in the period of the late 19th century and mid-20th century to describe people of Indo-European heritage.It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or subrace of the Caucasian race.

Assamese language

Assamese (; also Asamiya) is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in the Indian state of Assam, where it is an official language. It is the easternmost Indo-European language, spoken by over 15 million speakers, and serves as a lingua franca in the region.Nefamese is an Assamese-based pidgin used in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagamese, an Assamese-based Creole language is widely used in Nagaland. The Rajbangshi dialect of Rangpur division of Bangladesh and Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts of India are linguistically closer to Assamese, though the speakers identify with the Bengali culture and the literary language. In the past, it was the court language of the Ahom kingdom from the 17th century.

Along with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, Assamese evolved at least before 7th century CE from the middle Indo-Aryan Magadhi Prakrit, which developed from dialects similar to, but in some ways more archaic than Vedic Sanskrit.Its sister languages include Angika, Bengali, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Chakma, Chittagonian, Hajong, Rajbangsi, Maithili, Rohingya and Sylheti. It is written in the Assamese script, an abugida system, from left to right, with a large number of typographic ligatures.

Central Zone languages

The Central Zone languages, also known as the Hindi languages, are a group of related language varieties spoken across northern and central India. These language varieties form the central part of the Indo-Aryan language family, itself a part of the Indo-European language family. They historically form a dialect continuum that descends from the Madhya Prakrits. Located in the Hindi Belt, the Hindi language varieties also includes the Khariboli dialect, the primary dialect spoken in Delhi and the basis of modern Hindi and Urdu. This dialect developed over centuries into the medieval Hindustani language, of which Modern Standard Hindi and Modern Standard Urdu are today derived from. Both Hindi and Urdu are standardizations of the Hindustani language that was historically spoken in Delhi and used as a lingua franca across Northern India. In regards to the Indo-Aryan language family, the coherence of this language group depends on the classification being used; here only Eastern and Western Hindi will be considered.

Index of language articles

This is a partial index of 772 Wikipedia articles treating natural languages, arranged alphabetically.

For a published list of languages, see ISO 639-1 (list of ISO 639-1 codes for 136 major languages), or for a more inclusive list, see ISO 639-3 (list of ISO 639-3 codes, 7,874 in total as of June 2013). The enumeration of languages and dialects can easily be taken into the five-digit range; the Linguasphere Observatory has a database (LS-2010) with more than 32,800 coded entries and more than 70,900 linguistic names.

Indigenous Aryans

The Indigenous Aryans theory, also known as the Out of India theory (OIT), proposes that the Indo-European languages, or at least the Indo-Aryan languages, originated within the Indian subcontinent, as an alternative to the established migration model which proposes the Pontic steppe as the area of origin of the Indo-European languages. The indigenist view sees the Indo-Aryan languages as having a deep history in the Indian subcontinent, and being the carriers of the Indus Valley Civilization. This view proposes an older date than is generally accepted for the Vedic period, which is generally considered to follow the decline of Harappan culture.

It includes arguments against the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and arguments to re-date the Vedas and the presence of the Vedic people in accordance with traditional, Vedic-Puranic datings. The idea of "Indigenous Aryans" also implies a migration "Out of India" to Europe and Central Asia. This is contrary to the mainstream scholarly view, saying that the Indo-Aryan languages originated outside India.The proposal has been entwined with political and religious arguments, since it is based on traditional and religious views on Indian history and its identity. There has also been resistance among some Indian scholars to the idea that Indian culture can be divided between external Indo-European and indigenous Dravidian elements, a division which is sometimes described as a legacy of colonial rule and a hindrance to Indian national unity. The debate mostly exists among the scholars of Hindu religion and the history and archaeology of India, whereas historical linguists nearly unanimously accept the migration model of Indic origins.

Indo-Aryan languages

The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages, are a major language family of the Indian subcontinent. They constitute a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. In the early 21st century, Indo-Aryan languages were spoken by more than 800 million people, primarily in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Moreover, there are large immigrant and/or expatriate Indo-Aryan speaking communities in Northwestern Europe, Western Asia, North America and Australia. There are about 219 known Indo-Aryan languages.The largest in terms of speakers are Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu, about 329 million), Bengali (242 million), Punjabi (about 100 million) and other languages, with a 2005 estimate placing the total number of native speakers at nearly 900 million.

Indo-Aryan migration

Indo-Aryan migration models discuss scenarios around the theory of an origin from outside the Indian subcontinent of Indo-Aryan peoples, an ascribed ethnolinguistic group that spoke Indo-Aryan languages, the predominant languages of North India. Proponents of Indo-Aryan origin outside of the Indian subcontinent generally consider migrations into the region and Anatolia (ancient Mitanni) from Central Asia to have started around 1500 BCE, as a slow diffusion during the Late Harappan period, which led to a language shift in the northern Indian subcontinent. The Iranian languages were brought into Iran by the Iranians, who were closely related to the Indo-Aryans.

The Proto-Indo-Iranian culture, which gave rise to the Indo-Aryans and Iranians, developed on the Central Asian steppes north of the Caspian Sea as the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE) in present-day Russia and Kazakhstan, and developed further as the Andronovo culture (1800–1400 BCE), around the Aral Sea. The proto-Indo-Iranians then migrated southwards to the Bactria-Margiana Culture, from which they borrowed their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The Indo-Aryans split off around 1800–1600 BCE from the Iranians, whereafter the Indo-Aryans migrated into Anatolia and the northern part of the South Asia (modern Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal), while the Iranians moved into Iran, both bringing with them the Indo-Iranian languages.

Migration by an Indo-European people was first hypothesized in the late 18th century, following the discovery of the Indo-European language family, when similarities between western and Indian languages had been noted. Given these similarities, a single source or origin was proposed, which was diffused by migrations from some original homeland.

This linguistic argument is supported by archeological, anthropological, genetical, literary and ecological research. Genetic research reveals that those migrations form part of a complex genetic puzzle on the origin and spread of the various components of the Indian population. Literary research reveals similarities between various, geographically distinct, Indo-Aryan historical cultures. Ecological studies reveal that in the second millennium BCE widespread aridization lead to water shortages and ecological changes in both the Eurasian steppes and the Indian subcontinent, causing the collapse of sedentary urban cultures in south central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and India, and triggering large-scale migrations, resulting in the merger of migrating peoples with the post-urban cultures.The Indo-Aryan migrations started in approximately 1800 BCE, after the invention of the war chariot, and also brought Indo-Aryan languages into the Levant and possibly Inner Asia. It was part of the diffusion of Indo-European languages from the proto-Indo-European homeland at the Pontic–Caspian steppe, a large area of grasslands in far Eastern Europe, which started in the 5th to 4th millennia BCE, and the Indo-European migrations out of the Eurasian Steppes, which started approximately in 2000 BCE.The theory posits that these Indo-Aryan speaking people may have been a genetically diverse group of people who were united by shared cultural norms and language, referred to as aryā, "noble". Diffusion of this culture and language took place by patron-client systems, which allowed for the absorption and acculturation of other groups into this culture, and explains the strong influence on other cultures with which it interacted.

Indo-Aryan peoples

Indo-Aryan peoples are a diverse Indo-European-speaking ethnolinguistic group of speakers of Indo-Aryan languages. There are over one billion native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, most of them native to the Indian subcontinent and presently found all across South Asia, where they form the majority.

Indo-Iranian languages

The Indo-Iranian languages, Indo-Iranic languages, or Aryan languages constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It has more than 1.5 billion speakers, stretching from Europe (Romani), Turkey (Kurdish and Zaza–Gorani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese), and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese) and the Maldives (Maldivian). Furthermore, there are large communities of Indo-Iranian speakers in northwestern Europe (the United Kingdom), North America and Australia.

The common ancestor of all of the languages in this family is called Proto-Indo-Iranian—also known as Common Aryan—which was spoken in approximately the late 3rd millennium BC. The three branches of the modern Indo-Iranian languages are Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and Nuristani. Additionally, sometimes a fourth independent branch, Dardic, is posited, but recent scholarship in general places Dardic languages as archaic members of the Indo-Aryan branch.

Indo-Iranians

Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, are an ethno-linguistic group who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia.

Iranian languages

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

The Iranian languages are grouped in three stages: Old Iranian (until 400 BC), Middle Iranian (400 BC – 900 AD), and New Iranian (since 900 AD). The two directly attested Old Iranian languages are Old Persian (from the Achaemenid Empire) and Old Avestan (the language of the Avesta). Of the Middle Iranian languages, the better understood and recorded ones are Middle Persian (from the Sasanian Empire), Parthian (from the Parthian Empire), and Bactrian (from the Kushan and Hephthalite empires).

As of 2008, there were an estimated 150–200 million native speakers of the Iranian languages. Ethnologue estimates that there are 86 Iranian languages, the largest among them being Persian, Pashto, and the Kurdish dialect continuum.

Konkani language

Konkani (Kōṅkaṇī) is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages and is spoken by Konkani people along the western coast of India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution and the official language of the Indian state of Goa. The first Konkani inscription is dated 1187 A.D. It is a minority language in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.

Konkani is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan language group. It retains elements of Vedic structures and shows similarities with both western and eastern Indo-Aryan languages.There are many fractured Konkani dialects, most of which are not mutually intelligible with one another.

Languages of India

Languages spoken in India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 78.05% of Indians and the Dravidian languages spoken by 19.64% of Indians. Languages spoken by the remaining 2.31% of the population belong to the Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, and a few other minor language families and isolates. India (780) has the world's second highest number of languages, after Papua New Guinea (839).Article 343 of the Indian constitution stated that the official language of the Union should become Hindi in Devanagari script instead of the extant English. But this was thought to be a violation of the constitution's guarantee of federalism. Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English in the Indian government indefinitely until legislation decides to change it. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union were supposed to be the international form of Indian numerals, distinct from the numerals used in most English-speaking countries. Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is not the national language of India. The Constitution of India does not give any language the status of national language.The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement. In addition, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.

According to the Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. However, figures from other sources vary, primarily due to differences in definition of the terms "language" and "dialect". The 2001 Census recorded 30 languages which were spoken by more than a million native speakers and 122 which were spoken by more than 10,000 people. Two contact languages have played an important role in the history of India: Persian and English. Persian was the court language during the Mughal period in India. It reigned as an administrative language for several centuries until the era of British colonisation. English continues to be an important language in India. It is used in higher education and in some areas of the Indian government. Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in India today, serves as the lingua franca across much of North and Central India. However, there have been anti-Hindi agitations in South India, most notably in the state of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Punjab and other non-Hindi regions have also started to voice concerns about Hindi.

List of languages by number of native speakers

This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.

However, all such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.

For example, a language is often defined as a set of varieties that are mutually intelligible, but independent national standard languages may be considered to be separate languages even though they are largely mutually intelligible, as in the case of Danish and Norwegian.

Conversely, many commonly accepted languages, including German, Italian and even English, encompass varieties that are not mutually intelligible.

While Arabic is sometimes considered a single language centred on Modern Standard Arabic, other authors describe its mutually unintelligible varieties as separate languages.

Similarly, Chinese is sometimes viewed as a single language due to shared culture and a single written form.

It is also common to describe various Chinese dialect groups, such as Mandarin, Wu and Yue, as languages, even though each of these groups contains many mutually unintelligible varieties.There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time due to population change and language shift.

In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously.

Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.

Master race

The master race (German: Herrenrasse, also referred to as Herrenvolk "master people") is a concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative Nordic or Aryan races, predominant among Germans and other northern European peoples, are deemed the highest in racial hierarchy. Members of this alleged master race were referred to as Herrenmenschen ("master humans").

The Nazi official Alfred Rosenberg believed that the Nordic race was descended from Proto-Aryans, who he believed had prehistorically dwelt on the North German Plain and who had ultimately originated from the lost continent of Atlantis. The Nazis declared that the Nordics (now referred to as the Germanic peoples), or Aryans as they sometimes called them, were superior to all other races. The Nazis believed they were entitled to expand territorially. This concept is known as Nordicism. The actual policy that was implemented by the Nazis resulted in the Aryan certificate, the one official document that was required by the law for all citizens of the Reich was the "Lesser Aryan certificate" (Kleiner Ariernachweis), which could be obtained through an Ahnenpass, which required the owner to trace her or his lineage through baptism, birth certificates or certified proof thereof that all grandparents were of "Aryan descent".

The Slavs (along with Gypsies and Jews) were defined as being racially inferior and non-Aryan Untermenschen, and were thus considered to be a danger to the "Aryan" or Germanic master race. According to the Nazi secret Hunger Plan and Generalplan Ost, the Slavic population was to be removed from Central Europe through expulsion, enslavement, starvation, and extermination, except for a small percentage who were deemed to be non-Slavic descendants of Germanic settlers, and thus suitable for Germanisation.

Nordic aliens

In UFOlogy, Nordic aliens are humanoid extraterrestrials purported to come from the Pleiades who resemble Nordic-Scandinavians. Professed contactees describe them as typically male, six to seven feet tall (about two meters) with long blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin tones ranging from fair to tanned. UFOlogist George Adamski is credited with being among the first to claim contact with Nordic aliens in the mid 1950s, and scholars note that the mythology of extraterrestrial visitation from beings with features described as Aryan often include claims of telepathy, benevolence, and physical beauty.

White supremacy

White supremacy or white supremacism is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore should be dominant over them. White supremacy has roots in scientific racism, and it often relies on pseudoscientific arguments. Like most similar movements such as neo-Nazism, white supremacists typically oppose members of other races as well as Jews.

The term is also typically used to describe a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical, or institutional domination by white people (as evidenced by historical and contemporary sociopolitical structures such as the Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow laws in the United States, and apartheid in South Africa). Different forms of white supremacism put forth different conceptions of who is considered white, and different groups of white supremacists identify various racial and cultural groups as their primary enemy.In academic usage, particularly in usage which draws on critical race theory or intersectionality, the term "white supremacy" can also refer to a political or socioeconomic system, in which white people enjoy a structural advantage (privilege) over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level.

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