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Proto-Indo-European Palatovelars and Palatolabiovelars: The End of the Centum-Satem Division of Indo-European Dialects

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

In an earlier post, I showed that, contrary to the established opinion among Indo-European linguists, PIE labiovelars split into dental, labial and velar reflexes (in various environments) already in PIE times, rather than in the subsequent history of the Greek branch alone. The additional known cases of the labialization of labiovelars in Germanic, Celtic and Italic can now be seen as systematic and interconnected. But, most importantly, a more nuanced etymological analysis has identified cognate sets that prove the presence of the phenomenon of the labialization and dentalization of labiovelars in the so-called “satem” languages (Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic and Armenian).

This re-analysis of PIE labiovelars suggests that the division of IE languages into centum and satem languages is likely to be just an artifact of comparativist methodology. This can now be confirmed by a few new etymologies that show that PIE palatovelars were palatalized into /s/ already in PIE times. This is established by showing that a) palatovelars that are clearly attested as such in “satem” languages are also assibillated in centum languages; b) plain velars across satem and centum dialects alternate with /s/ also across all IE languages. The latter implies that some of the reflexes of PIE palatovelars have been misclassified as “plain” velars by Indo-Europeanists because of the flawed belief in the reality of satem vs. centum languages.

Here is some revealing comparanda:

1. IE *k’erd– ‘heart, core, root’ (Hitt kard, Skrt hrd-, Avest zered-, Gk keer [<*keerd-], kardía, kradíee, Arm sirt, Goth hairto-, Lat cor, Gen. cordis, OIr cride [<*kerdyo-], Lith sirdis, Latv sirdsheart, courage, anger’, OPruss seyr [< *seerd-], Slav *srudice) ~ IE *wrH2d– ‘root, branch’ [EIEC 80] (Gk rhiza root’ [< *sridya], rhadiks ‘branch’ (< *sreH2dikos), rhadamnos ‘branch, shoot’, Lat raadiix ‘root’, raamus ‘branch’, Goth waurts ‘root’, OEng wyrt ‘herb, plant’, OHG wurz ‘plant’, ONorse root ‘root’, OIr freen [< *wrdnio], Welsh gwraidd ‘root’, greddf ‘instinct’, Corn gwreydh ‘root’, Alb rrënjë ‘root’ < *wradnya). In the light of the anlaut of Gk rhiza, one has to reconstruct IE *s(w)reH2d-. The affixation of Lat raadix ‘root’ (< *raadi-c-s) is a perfect match for Slav *srudice ‘heart’, while the affixal morphology of Gk kardía, kradíee is built just like that of rhiza. Welsh greddf ‘instinct’ shows the same “psychological” extension of the primary organic, physiological meaning as Lith sirdis ‘courage, anger’.

In view of w– in Germanic, Celtic and Albanian, it’s possible that the isolated Gk phreen ‘diaphragm; Sitz aller Seelentätigkeit, Sinn, Seele, Geist, Verstand, Herz’ (Frisk, GEW, 1041-2) belongs here as well (if from *FreH2d-n– with an aspiration throwback), although the exact phonetic development is unclear.

2. IE *sro-bh– ‘gulp, ingest noisily’ [EIEC 175] (Hitt srap– ‘gulp’, Gk rhopheoo ‘gulp down’, Lat sorbeo ‘sup, swallow, absorb’, Arm arbi ‘drank’, Lith srebiu ‘sup, spoon’, Latv strebju ‘slurp, spoon’, SlavH1esnos *srubati ‘drink noisily’, Alb gjerb ‘sip’) ~ IE *korm– (Gk korennumi, koresko ‘satiate’, Lat cremor ‘thick juice’, Lith seriu, serti ‘feed’, pasaras ‘fodder’, OIr coirm ‘beer’, Slav *kormiti ‘feed’, kormu ‘fodder’).

3. IE *kreuH– ‘blood’ (Gk krea ‘raw flesh’, kreas ‘piece of meat’, Skrt kravis– ‘raw flesh’, Lat cruor ‘thick blood, gore’, MIr kruu– ‘blood’, Welsh crau ‘blood’, Lith kraujas ‘blood’, OPruss krawjan ‘blood’, Slav *kruvi ‘blood’) ~ IE *sreuH– ‘stream, flow’ (Gk rheoo ‘stream, flow’, rhoos ‘stream’, rheuma, rhuma [< *sreumn-], ‘rheum, bodily fluid’, Skrt sravati ‘flow’, Lith srauja ‘stream’, srava ‘blood flow, menstruation’, Latv strauja, Slav *struja ‘stream’. The semantic overlap between the two sets is obvious, and the meaning of IE *sreuH– ‘stream, flow’ is consistent with the existing interpretation of IE *kreuH– ‘blood’ as specifically ‘outside blood’ (EIEC 71) or ‘blood that left the body’ in contradistinction from IE *H1esr ‘blood’ (see no. 5).

4. PIE *k’weH2– ‘tasty, sweet, sour’: IE *sweH2du– ‘sweet’ (Toch A swaar, Toch B swaare ‘sweet’, Skrt svaadhu– ‘sweet’, Gk heedus ‘pleasing to the senses’, Lat suaavis ‘pleasing to the senses’, OHG swuozi ‘sweet, pleasing’, Lith suudyti ‘to salt’) ~ IE *suHro– ‘raw, sour, acid’ (Slav *syru ‘raw, cheese’, *surovy ‘raw, rough’, Lith suuras ‘salty’, Latv suurs ‘salty, bitter’, OPrus suris ‘cheese’, ONorse surr ‘sour, unpleasant’, OHG suur ‘sour’) ~ IE *kveH2t-: Skrt kuthitas ‘stinky’, kvathati ‘boils, brews’, Lat caaseus ‘cheese’, Alb kos ‘sour sheep milk’, Goth hwasoo ‘foam’, Slav *kvasu ‘sweet and sour drink’, *kisly ‘sour’ (< *kuuts– or *kuuds-), Latv kusat ‘boil’, kuusuls ‘spring’. The volatile semantics of this cognate superset is typical for this conceptual zone (comp., [Mallory & Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, 20.5]). It likely stems from the ambiguous taste of ancient drinks. Strangely enough, IE *sweH2du– ‘sweet’ has never been compared with IE *suHro– ‘raw, sour, acid’ despite their obvious connection supported by the morphology of Toch swaare ‘sweet’ and the complementary geographic distribution of the two sets. The PIE base *kweH2– is enlarged with unrelated affixes –d-, –r– and ?? ??-s-, although the loss of –d– can be expected for Toch A swaar and Toch B swaare (< *sweH2dro-, Adams, 2013, 795]) and suspected for forms such as Slav *kvasu ‘sweet and sour drink’, *kisly ‘sour’ (< *kuuds-) if not for the whole *suHro– nest.

5. PIE *k’eH2u-/*k’euH2– ‘forge’: IE *keu– ‘forge’ (Toch B kaut ‘split’, Lat cuudo ‘hit, strike’, OIr cuad ‘strike, fight’, OHG houwan ‘chop, strike’, Lith kauti, Latv kaut ‘forge, strike’, Slav *kovati, *kujo ‘forge’) ~ IE *seH2ul– (Gen. sH2wens) ‘sun’ (Skrt svar-, Avest xvare (Gen. xveng), Gk heelios [< *saavel-], Lat sool, Goth sauil, sunno ‘sun’, Lith saule, Latv saule, OPruss saule ‘sun’, Slav *slunice ‘sun’, Alb hyll ‘star’). The rationale behind the semantic link is a mythological one. Sun was originally a product of forging by a mythic hero (comp. the Indian celestial blacksmith Tvastar). Slav derivatives such as Ukr koval ‘blacksmith’ and Russ kuznica ‘blacksmith shop’ show the same root extensions as –l– in Gk heelios and –k– in Slav *slunice. The phonetic match, with a laryngeal and a diphthong in both cases, is perfect.

6. IE *H1esr– (Gen. H1esnos) ‘blood’ (Hitt eshar [Gen. eshnas], Toch A yasr, B yasar, Gk ear ‘blood’, Skrt asrk [Gen. asnas], OLat aser, assyr, Arm ariwn, Latv asins ‘blood’) ~ IE *ak’ru– ‘tear’ (Hitt ishahru– [influence of eshar is suggested in Tischler 377-8), Toch A aakar ‘tear’, Skrt asru-‘tear’, Avest asru-azan- ‘Tränen vergiessend’, Lith asara, Latv asara ‘tear’. The TEAR set also includes forms with an initial *d– (Gk dacruma, Lat lacrima, OIr deerArm artaswr, OHG zahar, trahan, OEng teear, tehor) the origin of which remains unresolved. Notably, there is a semantic parallel between the blood-rheum connection in no. 3 and the blood-tear connection in no. 5, which indicates that ancient Indo-Europeans may have distinguished between different bodily fluids not on the basis of their respective sources of origin in the body but on the basis of their texture and other factors.

7. PIE *menk’– ‘skin and meat from any part of the body’: IE *mems– (Gen. memsos) ‘meat’ (Toch B miisa ‘meat’, ‘Gk meenigks ‘skin, meninges’, Skrt maas, maamsa ‘meat’, Arm mis ‘meat’, Goth mimz ‘meat’, Lith mesa ‘meat’, Latv miesa, OPruss mensa, Slav *menso ‘meat’), *mems-ro– (Gk meeros ‘meaty part of the leg, femur’ [Frisk, GEW, 230-1], Lat membrum ‘member’, membraana ‘membrane’, OIr mirr ‘bit’ ([< ‘bit of meat’, EIEC 374-5], Slav *menzdra ‘inner side of skin, hide’ ~ IE *(s)mek’– ‘chin, jaw, beard’ (Hitt z(a)mankur- ‘beard’, Skrt smasru– ‘beard, moustache’, Arm mawruk’ ‘beard’, Lat maala ‘cheek, jaw’ [< *smaksla], maaxilla ‘jawbone, lower part of the face’, OIr smech ‘chin’, OEng smaeras ‘lips’, Lith smakras, Latv smakrs ‘chin’, Alb mjeker ‘chin, beard’. Semantically this superset is somewhat loose (although comp. the meaning of Gk meenigks ‘meninges’ referring to the head region if the body just like all the items in the CHIN set). It’s possible that the original meaning of the root referred to the surface, meaty and skinny parts of the body that were removed from a human or an animal corpse. The superset does show strong morphological affinity. For example, the nasal in Hitt z(a)mankur, otherwise missing from its immediate cognates, is supported by the pervasive nasal in the MEAT set.

8. PIE *k’leu– ‘lock’: Gk kleeis ‘key’, kleioo ‘I lock’, Lat claavus ‘nail’, claavis ‘key’, OIr clo ‘nail’, Slav *kluci ‘key’ next to OHG sliozan ‘lock’, sluzzil ‘key’, OSax slutil ‘key’. The Germanic forms are known to be related to the rest of the IE forms, and the shared protoform usually advanced to explain their onset is *skl-. The identity between PIE *k‘ and *s make the phonetic development more straightforward.

9. PIE *k’leu– ‘listen, hear, obey, oblige’: IE *k’leu– ‘listen, hear, obey, oblige’ (Toch klyos– ‘hear’, Skrt çrosati ‘he listens’, çrustis ‘trust, agreeableness, obligingness’, çrutas ‘famous’, çrutis ‘ear, hearing faculty’, Avest sruti– ‘message’, sruta– ‘heard of’, Gk kleoo ‘I praise’, klutos ‘glorious’, Lat cluere ‘to be called’, inclutus ‘famous’, OIr cloor ‘I listen’ [< *klusoor], clunim ‘I hear’, OHG hlosen ‘listen, obey’, hlut ‘loud’, Arm lu ‘famous’, lur ‘news, message’, Lith klausyti, klausau ‘listen, obey’, Latv sluvet ‘be known for’, sludinat ‘announce’, Slav *slusati ‘listen, obey’, *slysati ‘hear’) ~ IE *sleu-g– ‘serve’ (Lith slaugyti, slaugau ‘support, help’, paslauginti ‘perform work for someone’, slauga ‘service, servant’, paslauga ‘help, service’, OIr sluag ‘military detachment’, teg-lach ‘housefolk’ [< *tegoslougo-], Slav *sluziti ‘serve’, *sluga ‘servant’. The LISTEN-HEAR-OBLIGE subset shows both k– and s– onsets in “satem” languages (Lith klausyti next to Skrt çrosati). The connection between *k’leu- and *sleu-g– was first proposed by V. Terras (“Slavische Etymologien.” Zeitschrift fur Slavische Philologie 19 (1947): 123). Vasmer rejected it for the reason of the incompatibility of the *k’l- and *sl– onsets, a barrier that now can be overcome.

10. PIE *k’ei– ‘lay down seed, procreate, be native to’: IE *seHi– ‘sow’ (Hitt saai– ‘throw, sow’, Toch A, Toch B saary ‘plant’ (< *soHryo-), saarm ‘seed, cause’, Gk heetheoo ‘sift through’, Lat seroo ‘sow’, seemen ‘seed, stock, offspring’, Goth saian, OEng saawan, OHG saa(w)en ‘sow’, Lith seju ‘sow’, semens ‘seed’, Slav *sejo ‘sow’, *seme ‘seed’ ~ IE *k’ei– ‘lie’ (Skrt seva ‘intimate, dear’, siva ‘kind, friendly, auspicious, dear’, Gk koomee ‘village’ [< *kooimeH2], Arm seer ‘devotion’, sirem ‘love’, Lat ciivis ‘citizen’, Goth haims ‘village, countryside’, heiwa-frauja ‘head of the household’, OHG hiiun ‘married couple, parents, family members’, hii(w)o ‘husband’, hii(w)a ‘wife’, heim ‘home’, OEng hiiwen ‘household’, hiiwan ‘members of the household’, haam ‘home’, haeman ‘have intercourse, cohabit, marry’, OPruss seimiins ‘household servants’, kaymis ‘village’, Lith siema ‘family’, kaimas ‘village, countryside’, kiemas ‘courtyard’, Latv sieva ‘wife’, saime ‘family’, Slav *semija ‘family, household servants’. While the resulting meaning of this superset is somewhat broad and abstract, the phonetic match and the shared morphology of the subsets justifies postulating a single protoform.

11. PIE *k’wen– ‘sacred, holy, powerful’: IE *k’wento– ‘sacred, holy’ (Avest spenta– ‘holy’, Goth hunsl ‘sacrifice’, OEng huus(e)l ‘sacrifice, Eucharist’, Lith sventas, OPruss swent– ‘sacred, holy, Latv svinet ‘sanctify, celebrate holiday’, Slav *sventu ‘holy’) ~ IE *swent– ‘strong, healthy’ (Goth swinths ‘strong, healthy’, ONorse svinnr ‘powerful, wise’, OEng swiið ‘strong’, OHG gisunt ‘healthy’) ~ IE *swend-/*swent– ‘disappear, wilt’ (OHG swintan ‘disappear’, Slav *vendati, *venonti ‘fade, wilt, wither’, *onditi ‘smoke, cure in smoke’). The meaning of IE *swend-/*swent– ‘disappear, wilt’ is the exact opposite of IE *swent– ‘strong, healthy’, which can be explained as the outcome of the inherent semantic ambivalence of the notion of ‘power’ in sacrificial contexts because a sacred entity is both other-worldly powerful and this-worldly challenged. Scholars (EIEC 493) also cite Avest suura ‘strong’ and Gk kuurios ‘lord’ in conjunction with IE *k’wento– ‘sacred, holy’ (all presumably derived from the verbal base *k’eu– ‘swell’).

Etymological evidence also warrants the postulation of a complex palatolabiovelar phoneme for PIE.

1. PIE * k’wek’wo– ‘domesticated animals, wealth’: IE *H1ek’wo– ‘horse’ (HierLuw asuwa, Toch A yuk, B yakwe, Skrt asva, Myc i-qo, Gk hippos [< *sekwo-], Lat equus ‘horse’, Goth aihws, OHG ehu– ‘horse’, Lith asva ‘mare’) ~ IE *pek’u– ‘livestock’ (Skrt pasu, Avest pasu ‘cattle’, Lat pecu ‘cattle, livestock’, OEng feoh, OHG fihu ‘livestock, property, money’, Goth faihu ‘money, movable goods’, OPruss peckus, Lith pekus, pekas ‘cattle’. Old Indic pasu included horses, cattle, sheep and goats (EIEC 23), and this seems to be the oldest, undifferentiated meaning from which the meaning ‘horse’ associated with the *H1ek’wo- phonetic form is derived. For the HORSE words, Indo-Europeanists tend to reconstruct a cluster –k’w– instead of a single phoneme. But this leaves the labiovelar, which is clearly attested in Mycenaean, Greek and Latin, unexplained and some form of contamination needs to be postulated. A PIE palatolabiovelar requires no irregular processes. Arm asr ‘wool, fleece’ is typically associated with the *pek’u subset but its phonetic shape is a good match for the HORSE subset. Toch B yok ‘hair, wool’ is compared to Arm asr in [Adams 550] (both are a neuter u-stem) and the connection between yok and Toch A yuk and B yakwe ‘horse’ is straightforward.

2. PIE *skwek’w-/*k’wek’w– ‘see, dream, have a vision’: IE *swep-/*swop– ‘sleep, dream’ (Hitt supp– ‘sleep’, suppariya– ‘dream’, Toch A spam, B spane ‘sleep, dream’, Skrt svapna ‘sleep’, Avest xvafna ‘sleep’, Gk hypnos ‘sleep’, hypar ‘true dream, vision, walking reverie’, Lat somnus [< *swepno-] ‘sleep’, sopor ‘overpowering sleep’, OEng swefn, ONorse svefn ‘sleep, dream’, sofa ‘sleep’, OIr suan, Welsh hun ‘sleep’, Lith sapnas, Latv sapnis ‘dream’, Slav *supati ‘sleep’, *sunu ‘sleep, dream’, Arm k’un ‘sleep’, Alb gjume ‘sleep’ ~ IE *skep-/*spek’– ‘see’ (Gk skeptomai ‘observe, look carefully, consider’, skopos ‘target, purpose, aim, spy’, Lat specio ‘I look, I see’, Skrt pasyati ‘look’, spasa ‘spy’, Avest spasyeiti ‘look’, OHG spehoon ‘regard, spy’, spahi ‘wise, skillful’, ONorse spaar ‘prediction, prophecy’. ONorse spaar and Gk hypar show the best formal and semantic alignment. Toch A spam, B spane ‘sleep, dream’ is shaped just like IE *spek’– forms. The original meaning of the etymon was less about the physical state of sleep (for which there was a different root *ses– EIEC, 527) as the subjective experience of being in a dream-like state. Dreams must have had a prophetic significance for early Indo-Europeans and used as a rationale for critical judgment in the waking state. The “metathesis” found in Gk skeptomai, skopos (see below on the similar Gk form (arto-)kopos as a reflex of PIE *k’wek’w- ‘bake, cook, liver’ likely indicates the ancient root with two (palato)labiovelars. Phonetically and morphologically Gk skeptomai, skopos agrees with Arm k’un. (Comp. different outcomes of the same IE *sw in Armenian in skesur ‘wife’s mother’ and k’oyr ‘sister’.) The velar in Arm k’un, therefore, represents not a late, narrow Armenian reflex of PIE *sw-, as it’s presently believed, but an inherent property of the ancient IE root.

3. PIE *k’weid– ‘to split, to shed (sweat, etc.)’: IE *skeid– ‘to split, to shed’ (Skrt chinatti ‘to cut off, chop, split, pierce’, cheda– ‘cut, section, portion’, chidra– ‘torn asunder, pierced; hole, slit, cleft’, Gk skhidzoo ‘I split, divide’, Lat scindoo ‘I split’, Lith skiesti ‘water down, separate’, skaistas ‘clear, shining’, skaidrus ‘clear’, skystas ‘liquid, thin’, Latv skaidit ‘water down’, Goth skaidan ‘separate’, ONorse skita ‘defecate’, OHG scetan ‘watery, thin’, OEng sceadan ‘divide, separate’, Welsh chwyd ‘break open’, Slav *cediti ‘sift water’, *cistu ‘clean’ ~ IE *sweH2id(ro)– ‘sweat’ (Toch B syaa– ‘to sweat’, syelme ‘sweat’, Skrt svedate ‘perspire’, sveda ‘sweat’, Avest xvaeda ‘sweat’, Gk hidros ‘sweat’, Lat suudor ‘sweat’, OEng swaetan ‘sweat’, Welsh chwys ‘sweat’, Arm k’irtn ‘sweat’, Latv sviedri ‘sweat’, Alb djerse ‘sweat’). The semantic connection between the two sets is very compelling. IE *skeid– offers a plausible source for one of the IE words for ‘sweat’ that likely replaced a more ancient form retained in Hitt allaniye– ‘to sweat’, OIr alias ‘sweat’. Just like in no. 2 above the velar in Arm k’un matches the velar in Gk skeptomai, skopos, here the velar in Arm k’irtn matches the velar in Gk skhidzoo, Lith skaidrus, etc. Aspiration in Gk skhidzoo directly corresponds to aspiration in Arm k’irtn and to -w- in Skrt svedate, etc.

4. PIE *k’wleu– ‘paired body part of ritual significance’: IE *pleu– ‘lung’ (Skrt kloman– ‘the right lung’, Gk pleumoon ‘lung’, Lat pulmoo ‘lung’, Lith plauciai ‘lungs’, Latv plausas, plauksi ‘lung’, Slav *pljuute, *pluutje ‘lungs’) ~ IE *k’louni– ‘buttocks’ (Skrt sroni– ‘buttock, hip, loin’, Avest sraoni– ‘buttock’, Gk klonis ‘coccyx’, Lat cluunis ‘buttock, haunch (of animals)’, Welsh clun ‘haunch’, ONorse hlaun ‘buttocks’, Lith slaunis ‘haunch, hip’, Latv slauna ‘haunch, rump’. The onset of Skrt kloman has never received an explanation based on the principle of the regularity of sound change. Instead, dissimilation pl > kl in the distant environment of labial –m– has been proposed, but this explanation is entirely ad hoc. The reconstruction of *kw– instead of *p– resolves this problem nicely. The origin of IE *pleu– ‘lung’ from the verb base ‘to swim’ (EIEC 359) (under the assumption that lungs looked like a floater to the administers of sacrifices) now seems doubtful as lungs and buttocks are semantically linked not because they ‘float’ but because they are similarly looking paired body parts. In a ritual context, they were similarly separated by a sacrificial knife. In this context, comp. Lat clunaculum ‘culta sanguinarius quod ad clunes dependeat, vel quia clunes hostiarum dividat’ (Waucquier, M. M., and J. Nicolaides. Novum dictionarium tetraglotton. Amsterdam, 1759, 122-3).

3. PIE *k’wek’w- ‘bake, cook, liver’: IE *pekw-/*kwekw– ‘bake’ (Skrt pacati ‘cooks, bakes, roasts, boils’, Gk pesso ‘cook’, peptos ‘cooked’, Toch A pak, Toch B pak ‘cook, boil, ripen’, papaksu ‘cooked’, Welsh poeth ‘baked, roasted, hot’, pobi ‘bake’ (p– < *kw-), Alb pjek ‘I bake’, Slav *peku, *pekti ‘bake, roast, oven’), *pesteni ‘liver’, *pektera ‘cave’ ~ IE *yekwr(t)-/*yekwn(t)– ‘liver’ (Skrt yakrt, Gen. yaknas, Gk heepar, Gen. heepatos [< *sepr-, Gen. *sepn-], Lat iecur, Gen. iecinoris, OHG lebara, OEng lifer, ONorse lifr, Arm leard, Lith jeknos ‘liver’, Slav *(j)ikra ‘calf (of leg), fish roe’) ~ Gk hepso ‘cook, boil’ [< *septyo-). Usually reconstructed as *pekw-, the root COOK-BAKE manifests itself in such forms as Lat coquo ‘cook’, Lith kepukepti ‘bake’, kepenos ‘liver’ and Gk arto-kopos ‘bread-baker’, which point to a labiovelar in the anlaut and not a labial stop. Scholars tend to dismiss them as products of irregular metatheses and assimilations but this is a problematic and unverifiable approach. In the light of Balto-Slav *peken-/*kepen– ‘liver’, which is transparently derived from the root ‘to bake’, the otherwise obscure Gk hepso ‘cook, boil’ cannot be divorced from Gk heepar ‘liver’. The second segment in Lith kepenos ‘liver’ and Slav *pecen– reveal an unmistakable connection to, respectively, Gk Gen. heepatos [< *sepn-] and Lat Gen. iecinoris (< *pecinoris or *kwecinoris), so the loss of kw-/p- has to be postulated to explain Lith jeknos ‘liver’, Slav *(j)ikra ‘calf (of leg), fish roe’), Skrt yakrt, Lat iecur and Gk heepar. OHG lebara, OEng lifer, ONorse  Arm leard remain problematic because of l– but their second consonant is now fully consistent with the reconstructed PIE *kw-.

4. PIE *k’wed– ‘foot, walk, step’: IE *ped-/*pod– ‘foot’ (Hitt pad ‘foot’, Toch A pe-, B paiyye ‘foot’, Skrt padam ‘footprint, foot’, padyate ‘walks, falls’, Avest paidyeiti ‘comes, walks’, pada– ‘footprint’, Arm het ‘footprint’, otn ‘foot’, Gk pous, Gen. podos ‘foot’, pedon ‘ground’, Lat pees, pedis ‘foot’, pessum ‘on the ground, grounded’, Lith peda ‘foot, footprint’, padas ‘sole of foot’, pescias ‘on foot’, Latv peds ‘footprint’, pads ‘floor’, Goth footus ‘foot, step’, OHG gefezzan ‘fall’, OEng fettan ‘fall’, Slav *pesiji ‘on foot’ [< *pedsyos], *padati ‘fall’, *podu ‘under, bottom, ground’) ~ IE *sed-/*sod– ‘walk, sit’ (Slav *sedeti ‘sit’, *xoditi ‘walk’, *sid ‘went’, Skrt sidati ‘he sits’, Avest hidaiti ‘he sits’, hecanim ‘I sit, I ride’, Gk hodos ‘path’, hodeuoo ‘wander, roam’, hoditees ‘wanderer’, hedzomai ‘I sit’, Lat sedeoo ‘sit’, Goth sitan ‘sit’, Lith sedeti, Latv sedet ‘sit’. Phonetically Arm het, Slav *xoditi, Avest hidaiti and Gk hodeuoo show the same weakening of s to h/x. In Armenian, h frequently corresponds to both p and s in other IE languages.

5. PIE *k’wenkw– ‘hand, five, ten, one hundred’: IE *penkw– ‘five’ (Toch A pan, B pis, Skrt panca, Avest panca, Gk pente, Lat quiinque, Arm hing, OIr coic, Welsh pempe, Goth fimf, OHG fimf, Lith penki, Latv pieci, Slav *penti, Alb pese) ~ IE *k’mtom ‘hundred’ (Toch A kant, B kante, Skrt catam, Avest satem, Gk hekaton, Lat centum, OIr cet, Goth hund, Lith simtas, Slav *suto) ~ IE *de-k’mtm ‘ten’ (Toch A sak, B sak, Skrt daca, Avest dasa, Gk deka, Lat decem, Arm tasn, Goth taihun, OHG zehan, OIr deich, Lith desimtis, Slav *desenti, Alb dhjete). There’s a general agreement between scholars that IE *k’mtom ‘hundred’ and *de-k’mtm ‘ten’ are related but the origin of the first segment in *de-k’mtm is subject to different interpretations. Similarly, scholars often link *de-k’mtm ‘ten’ and *penkw– ‘five’ semantically: five is ‘first with clenched fingers’, while ten is ‘two hands’ (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov 747, with further literature). Under the hypothesis of the PIE voiceless palatolabiovelar phoneme, *penkw– ‘five’, *k’mtom ‘hundred’ and the second segment of *de-k’mtm are formally identical. PIE *k’wenkw– shows that the labial, velar and dental phonemes seen in the affix to the underlying root *k’wen– are also likely reflexes of a PIE palatovelar phoneme. Initial h– in Arm hing alternates with -s- in tasn and, as in the case of het ‘footprint’ above, it represents not PIE *p but directly PIE *k’w. Correspondingly, the underlying forms meaning ‘fist, hand, finger’ (Goth figgrs ‘finger’ [< *fingra-], handus ‘hand’, OHG fust [< *funhsti-] ‘fist‘, fingar ‘finger’, hant ‘hand’, OEng fyst [< *funhsti-] ‘fist’, finger ‘finger’, hand ‘hand’, Lith kumste ‘fist’, OPrus kuntis ‘fist’, Slav *pensti ‘palm of the hand, first, hand’) are also related. Persistent attempts to brush off Lith kumste ‘fist’, OPrus kuntis ‘fist’ as belonging to a different root (see Vasmer, III, 423-4) or to explain Lat quiinque, OIr coic, Welsh pempe, Goth fimf as products of irregular assimilation are superfluous and rooted in flawed PIE reconstructions. See also no. 7.

6. PIE *k’wer-/*kwerH2– ‘first, frontal, upper, protruding’: IE *k’erH2– ‘head, horn’ (Hitt karavar ‘horn’, harsar ‘head’, Skrt sira ‘head, skull’, srnga ‘horn, tusk’, Gk keras ‘head, horn’, kranion ‘upper part of the head, skull’, Arm sar ‘tip, end, top, summit’ mountain’, Lat cerebrum ‘brain, skull’ [< *keresrom], cerviix ‘neck’, cornuu ‘horn’, OEng haern ‘brain’) ~ IE *per– ‘first, frontal’ (Skrt purvas ‘first, frontal’, prstham ‘ridge, mountain top’, Avest purva– ‘first’, parsta– ‘back’, Lat postis ‘pole’ [< *porstis], Alb pare ‘first’, Toch A parvat ‘oldest’, B parwesse ‘first’, OEng forwost ‘first, head, leader’, OHG first ‘ridge of roof’, Lith pirmas ‘first’, pirstas ‘finger’, OPrus pirmas ‘first’, pirsten ‘finger’, Latv pirmais ‘first’, pirksts ‘finger’, Slav *pervu ‘first’, *perstu ‘finger’. This is a semantically and morphologically compelling connection (especially revealing is the isogloss linking Hitt harsar, Proto-Italic *keresrom and Balto-Slav *perst-) supported by distributional complementarity: Balto-Slavic does not have reflexes of IE *k’erH2- with the meaning ‘head, horn’ but it does have plenty of derivatives of IE *per- with the meanings ‘first, finger’. Other derivatives from the IE root *k’erH2– ‘head, horn’ such as Slav *korwa ‘cow’, *sirna ‘roe’, Lith karve ‘cow’, Latv sirna ‘roe’, OPruss sirvis ‘roe’, Gk keraos ‘horned’, Lat cervus ‘deer’, etc. show alternation between IE *k and IE *k’ (in the traditional reconstruction).

7. IE *k’wengwh– ‘hand, foot, nail, fist’: IE *H3nogwh– ‘hand, foot, nail’ (Hitt sankui– ‘nail’, Toch A maku, B mekwa ‘nails’, Skrt anghris ‘foot’, nakham ‘nail, claw’, Gk onuks, Gen. onukhos ‘nail, claw’, Lat unguis ‘nail’, ungulus ‘hoof’, OIr ingen ‘nail’, OHG nagal ‘nail’, Lith nagas ‘nail’, naga ‘hoof’, Latv nagas ‘hands and feet’, OPruss nage ‘foot’, Slav *noga ‘foot, leg’, *noguti ‘nail’) ~ IE *pngw– ‘metacarpus, fist’ (Gk pugme, Lat pugnus ‘fist’ (< *pngwn-, with a metathesis), OHG fuust [< *funhsti-), OEng fyst ‘fist’, Lith kumste, OPruss kuntis ‘fist’, Slav *pensti ‘metacarpus, hand, fist’). Toch A maku, B mekwa are thought to derive from PToch *nekwa– but in light of Skrt musti, Avest musti, Toch B masce [ *< masteis] ‘fist’ (EIEC 255) instead of expected *pngwsti-), which belong here as well, the origin of m– may be more complex, namely from *pnkwa-. (On the unmotivated nature of the postulated *nekwa– > *mekwa– development, see Blazek, Vaclav. “Tocharian A muk ?yoke’ and A maku, B mekwa pl. ?(finger)nails’ – why m-?” Historische Sprachforschung 114, Bd. 1 (2001): 191-5.) Lith kumste  is derived from *punkste (EIEC 255, 389), which may be redundant considering the original form had an initial velar anyhow. It’s tempting to include here Lith pentis, OPruss pentis, Slav *penta ‘heel’ (if from *pengwt-) and OHG hant, OEng hand ‘hand’ (if from *kwengwt-) but there’s no trace of a second velar in those forms. Hitt sankui– ‘nail’ proves that there was a palatalized consonant in front of Narrow European *H3nogwh-. Semantically, ‘hand and foot’ (potentially, in their active, aggressive function) seems to be the common denominator across all the forms, with meaning ‘nail’ (toenail and fingernail) emerging later on the basis of that primary meaning. The application of the protoform to both ‘hand’ and ‘foot’ is secure as in the *H3nogwh- subset ‘nail’ means ‘toenail and fingernail’ across all the dialects.

Svan Terms for ‘Sister’ and the Kartvelian Term for ‘Mother’ (With Notes on Basque and Burushaski)

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

As a follow-up to my earlier post, Heinz Fähnrichs Kartwelisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (2007, p. 119-120), which had existed in Georgian for 15 years before being translated into the more accessible German, contains an interesting etymological analysis of the Svan terms for ‘man’s sister’ and ‘woman’s sister’.

Svan is unique among Kartvelian languages in having special terms to denote siblings depending on Ego Gender. The pattern of contrasting man’s brother, woman’s brother, man’s sister, woman’s sister is very rare cross-linguistically. Unlike Klimov, Fähnrich sees the same root da– in both Svan u-d-il ‘woman’s sister’ (*udild, with the diminutive *-ild) and da-chwir ‘man’s sister’ (also in da-j ‘husband’s sister’). According to Klimov, the more specific meaning ‘woman’s sister’ found in Svan is original to the generalized meaning ‘sister’ found in the other Kartvelian languages. Another apparent archaism is the presence of the “frozen” obligatory possessive affix u– in the Svan form. We don’t know what the formant –chwir in ‘man’s sister’ comes from.

Since cross-linguistically (see The Genius of Kinship) sibling sets tend to lose semantic distinctions, rather than gain them, Svan must have lost the original term for either ‘man’s sister’ or ‘woman’s sister’. Root *da– came to replace it but it’s unclear which term is a survivor and which one is a replacement.

It’s possible that the underlying root *da– is further related to Kartvelian *ded- ‘mother, grandmother, woman, wife, mother-in-law’, which Fähnrich (pp. 128-129) presents in the following way:

If the Kartvelian term for ‘mother’ in its unreduplicated form is the ultimate source for the Svan terms for ‘man’s sister’, ‘woman’s sister’ and ‘husband’s sister’, then it’s easy to understand how the original independent stems for ‘man’s sister’ and ‘woman’s sister’ got replaced by a single-stem term. The system pulled a female term lacking Ego Gender semantics from the upper generation to create a new Ego-Gender-neutral form in the Ego generation. The morphology of u-d-il vs. the morphology of da-chwir are so different that it suggests that, since the replacement of the original terms for ‘man’s sister’, both u-d-il and da-chwir have undergone significant changes.

A close semantic parallel to the Kartvelian situation is furnished by Indo-European. Lith mosha ‘husband’s sister’ is a diminutive derivative of mote ‘mother’, while Albanian motre ‘sister’ goes back to IE *meH2ter ‘mother’. In the case of Albanian, it’s likely that the lowering of the ‘mother’ form to denote ‘sister’ (also Alb vella ‘brother’ comes from *awentlo-, which is found in Lat avus ‘grandfather’, Lat avunculus, Lith avynas and Breton eontr ‘mother’s brother’, see Huld, Martin E. 1984. Basic Albanian Etymologies. Columbus.) springs from an Omaha-type skewing in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) associated with patrilineal social organization. As part of this generational skewing, PF = MB = MBS and M = MZ = MBD. A later shift to ‘Hawaiian” or Generational nomenclature in Ego generation resulted in the form *awentlo– to acquire the meaning ‘mother’s brother’s son, mother’s sister’s son’, brother’. Finally, the shift from Generational to Lineal terminology led to the narrowing of the MBS = MZS = B semantic cluster to just refer to ‘brother’ (historical vella). It’s possible that Kartvelian has undergone a similar change and that the cognation of *ded– ‘mother’, *u-d-il ‘woman’s sister’ and da-chwir ‘man’s sister’ indicate that Proto-Kartvelian had an Omaha-type generational skewing, too.

Another Eurasian language that has the same 4-way division of sibling categories is Burushaski. But the neutralization woman’s sister ~ man’s sister in Svan is different from the neutralization found in Bur –co ‘a man’s brother; a woman’s sister’. In the Svan case, Ego Gender is neutralized, in the Burushaski case Referent Gender is neutralized.

Finally, Basque is the third language in Eurasia that displays the same pattern of classifying siblings. In all the Basque dialects but Biscayan (anaya mB, arrabea mZ, neba wB, aiztia wZ) Ego Gender is neutralized in the term for ‘brother’, so that Labourdin, Navarese, Guipuzcoan, Souletin have anay B, arreba mZ, ahizpa wZ.

While the three languages modify the original 4-term set in three different ways and the specific lexical forms don’t seem to be related, it’s possible that the rare sibling terminology attests to an ancient macrophylic unity underlying West Nostratic and West Dene-Caucasian.