February 6, 2011

Linguistic musings: Adur, Apru and Aphrodite

There's a lengthy discussion after my latest speculative incursion into the messy field of Linguistics, probably breaking a record in what refers to comments in this blog: 210 so far!

But what brings me to write this note is that in latest comments have partly dealt with the origins of the name of the goddess Aphrodite, also known by her Latin name of Venus, but to Etruscans known as Apru, giving name to the month of April.

La nascita di Venere (Botticelli)
Botticelli famously imagined this way the legend of Aphrodite's birth

The indoeuropeist hypothesis of Aphrodite's name says that it comes from aphrós (foam), reflecting her mythological birth out of the sea foam after the severed testicles of Ouranos fell on it. Reader and linguist Octavià Alexandre argued the following purely IE etymology (for aphrós)

from IE *ºnbh-ro-/*ºnbhr-i- 'rain', a derivate of *nebh- 'cloud, mist'

However I protested that rain seems unrelated to foam or surf. And then (not long ago) he provided me with a most valuable tip, that I, ignorant of the subtleties of Classical Greek, could have never figured on my own:

The Greek word can also refer to dribble (Spanish baba). 

This immediately ringed a bell in my mind because there's a special word in Basque for it: adur. It is special not just because it means saliva or mucosa but because it also has a very special mythological meaning as the magic fluid of the universe. As such it is present in the name of the Basque river Adur (Adour in French) and probably also in English river Adur and the so many rivers in Europe with the pre-Indoeuropean particle dur- in them

However I had not expected this element to show up at all in SE Europe or the Eastern Mediterranean. Even if I am familiar with the classical Gimbutist theory of Old Europe and the alleged importance of the fluid and its zig-zag symbols, particularly common in Vinča culture iconography (but also apparent in other contexts and often associated to female sexuality or birthgiving), I had never suspected a relationship with Basque word and mythic concept Adur.

A few days ago Andalusian archaeology blog Pileta de Prehistoria mentioned (following Discovery News) the finding of a "stone age fertility ritual object" in Poland dated to c. 11,000 years ago. I did not give this finding too much importance at first, even if it is curiously a lot older than the better known Neolithic counterparts, but now I feel the need to add it to the evidence in favor of this Adur-Apru pan-European link.

The fertility meaning is explained because of the zig-zag symbols, which are very much like those of Vinča iconography but also because the body proportions of the human icon are feminine, strongly suggesting the moment of birthgiving, a most important cosmological instance for any religiosity connected with reality  (i.e. not pamphletist dogmatic "revealed" religions, like Judeochristoislamism).

Back to Aphrodite, let's remember that she is not any Olympian goddess (not sibling or daughter of Zeus) but obviously related to a pre-Olympian cosmology, fully in connection with the early mythical (and terribly Oedipic) struggle between Kronos (Saturn) and Ouranos. Aphrodite is by all accounts a pre-Indoeuropean goddess closer to West Asian goddesses like Astarte, all them associated to the planet we know today as Venus. 

Let's recall as well that it was Trojan favor for Aphrodite (and not the less sensual and more Indoeuropean-Patriarchal goddesses Hera, the wife, or Athena, the warrior maiden) the mythological trigger of the war as narrated by Homer. Aphrodite is clearly one of the last incarnations of the ancient Mother Goddess that Gimbutas' often genial intuition found in Old Europe.

So Aphrodite, Apru in Etruscan, might well be the religious embodiment of this perception of the "magic flow" and its sexual and reproductive ("fertility") implications, so important in Neolithic Europe and preserved till Modernity in the Basque Country (then becoming Satanic iconography in some cases, like the black billy goat, thanks to the Inquisition). 

Therefore Pelasgian-Etruscan Apru, derived into Greek as Aphrós should be foam, salive, and magic fluid in general. The fluid of life. 

Exactly the same as Adur, which is almost for sure a cognate. 

Now, which was first, the chicken of the egg? Is Apru or Adur the oldest term? This I live open to discussion. However the Polish Epipaleolithic finding is highly suggestive of a pre-Neolithic and hence Vasconic origin for this concept, which fits well with the fact that at least the ending of Adur looks very much Vasconic (ur is water in modern Basque).


Important update (Feb 6):

It has been brought to my attention (see comments) that Apru is not the genuine Etruscan name of Venus-Aphrodite, it was Turan instead. Apru was claimed by linguist E. Beneviste as the root of the Etruscan-Latin month of April. In this theory, Apru would not be a genuine Etruscan word but the Etruscan version of Greek Aphrós, shortening of Aphrodite.

So we can pretty much ignore this Etruscan word. Yet all which was said on Aphrós and Adur stand and they are the core of the argumentation here, with Apru being less relevant.


Clarification:

In case anyone has any doubt Octavià does not support this hypothesis of course. I just had to give him credit for opening my eyes to the possible Greek-Basque connection aphrós-adur because I would not have been able to think of it without his suggestions. But he, of course, disagrees with all my conclusions in this entry.

29 comments:

  1. Your hypothesis is interesting and merits to be discussed. Perhaps has some meaning that the Latin (but of Etruscan extraction) poet Titus Lucretius Caro begins his “De Rerum Natura” with

    Aeneadum genetrix hominum divomque voluptas
    Alma Venus

    ReplyDelete
  2. But where have you found that "Venus" was calles Apru in Etruscan? I knew that her name was Turan, probably linked with Greek "tyrannos", and the name of the month "April" was derived in Latin from "aperio" (to open).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Adur may also be a cognate with the German/Polish river name(s) Oder/Odra - which themselves may be related to the Illyric word Adra (meaning "water artery" - again similar to Greek arteria and German Ader - although the latter supposedly only gained the meaning artery/vein somewhat more recently.

    And since you going with life fluids, then there is of course also udder (German: Euter, Sanskrit: udher)...

    As to the time of the found antler, ice was melting so quickly that people in their lifetimes saw the Ice giving birth to fertile Earth, involving lots of flowing water...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent question Gioello. I was lead there by the Wikipedia page on April, which reads:

    "... it has been suggested that Aprilis was originally her month Aphrilis, from her Greek name Aphrodite (Aphros), or from the Etruscan name Apru".

    Unsourced!

    However the book I have at home on Etruscans says as you do: Turan is Venus. No mention of any Apru (the closest would Aplu, Apollo, which is a totally different meaning).

    Yet a Google search for "Apru Venus" produces >10,000 hits!!!

    I just tracked the source of this to certain E. Beneviste, who, according to the American Journal Of Philology, argued that *apru is the Etruscand version of Greek documented "Aphró", short for Aphrodite and that this is the origin of the name April.

    He did probably well rejecting the "aprire" (to open) etymology, yet the claim that Apru is genuine Etruscan is surely wrong and it is most likely an Etruscan deformation of Greek Aphró.

    Thanks for the criticism. Very useful. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Eurologist:

    "Adur may also be a cognate with the German/Polish river name(s) Oder/Odra - which themselves may be related to the Illyric word Adra (meaning "water artery" - again similar to Greek arteria and German Ader - although the latter supposedly only gained the meaning artery/vein somewhat more recently.

    "And since you going with life fluids, then there is of course also udder (German: Euter, Sanskrit: udher)"...

    Absolutely. The etymologies should be double-checked but anyhow very good ideas in my understanding. :)

    "As to the time of the found antler, ice was melting so quickly that people in their lifetimes saw the Ice giving birth to fertile Earth, involving lots of flowing water"...

    But the Mother Goddess element is older: Gravettian to be precise. The oldest known Mother Goddess figurines anywhere on Earth are from that period (Central Europe specially but also East and West Europe and even as far as Altai). Later they show up in West Asia in Neolithic contexts but that's another story probably.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A “certain E. Beneviste”? He is one of the greatest linguist of the 20th century, who wrote, amongst others, the masterpiece “Vocabulary of the Indo-European institutions” (I am citing by memory: Vocabulaire des Institutions Indo-européennes). I think he couldn’t have done a mistake like this. I think that “Apru” isn’t documented in the Etruscan “Testimonia Linguae Etruscae”, but being a name in –u, presupposes perhaps an Etruscan surname in –un, and in Latin there is “Apronius”, i.e. the Latinization of an Etruscan surname (I should have at hand Schulze, Etruskischen und Lateinischen Eigennamen).

    ReplyDelete
  7. "He is one of the greatest linguist of the 20th century"...

    Much better then. I feared that the Apru claim was not too well founded. If he's such a mighty pope of linguistics (I did not know), then the claim should be stronger.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The indoeuropeist hypothesis of Aphrodite's name says that it comes from aphrós (foam) reflecting her mythological birth out of the sea foam after the severed testicles of Ouranos fell on it. Reader and linguist Octavià Alexandre argued the following purely IE etymology:

    from IE *ºnbh-ro-/*ºnbhr-i- 'rain', a derivate of *nebh- 'cloud, mist'

    I think you misquoted me. This etymology corresponds to Greek aphrós 'foam'.

    Of course, I don't support your hypothesis.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "I think you misquoted me. This etymology corresponds to Greek aphrós 'foam'".

    That's what I meant. Is it confusingly stated?

    It says:

    "The indoeuropeist hypothesis of Aphrodite's name says that it comes from aphrós (foam) ... Reader and linguist Octavià Alexandre argued the following purely IE etymology"...

    I'll try to clarify it better but my intent was to mean etymology for aphrós, nothing else.

    "Of course, I don't support your hypothesis".

    But you gave me the key clues, so I feel obliged to give you credit. I'll add a note also clarifying that you do not support this hypothesis.

    Hope that's ok.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "The indoeuropeist hypothesis of Aphrodite's name says that it comes from aphrós (foam) ... Reader and linguist Octavià Alexandre argued the following purely IE etymology"...

    I'll try to clarify it better but my intent was to mean etymology for aphrós, nothing else.

    You should have said that ancient authors linked Aphrodítē to aphrós, a word whose IE etymology I've just provided.

    Of course, Basque adur is etymologically unrelated to the Greek word, despite its meaning can be roughly the same.

    Also there's no real basis for linking April to Aphrodite other than a phonetical resemblance.

    But you gave me the key clues, so I feel obliged to give you credit. I'll add a note also clarifying that you do not support this hypothesis.
    But this isn't is what I've asked you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Maju says:
    "He is one of the greatest linguist of the 20th century"...

    Much better then. I feared that the Apru claim was not too well founded. If he's such a mighty pope of linguistics (I did not know), then the claim should be stronger.

    Maju, the paper where Benveniste spoke about “Apru” was published on 1931, when he was 24 years old and even though Saussure wrote his “Memoire sur le voyelles” when he was 20, I think that Benveniste began a great linguist after and probably nevermore used that method, i.e. to hypothesize something not documented. "Apru" is written with an *, then it is a pure hypothesis, without any documentation. I falsified what Etchamendy said about Basque “hosto” by using the etymological dictionary of Trask found on your site:

    Etchamendy writes: “On a cru un temps que l’univerbation et donc la préverbation étaient ignorées de l’indo-européen. Mais l’exemple de *nizdó- n’est pas seul à prouver le contraire : grec. ὄζος (ózos), arm. ast, germ. *asta- “rameau” remontent à un /*ozdo-/ qui suppose un préverbe /*o-sed-/ “être situé ensemble”// bsq. HOSTO “feuille”, HOSTAIL “rameau” ».
    Ie. *nizdo- and *ozdo- presuppose the root *sed- « to sit » and if Basque “hosto” (but it means “leaf” and not “branch”, which is “hostail”) was related, we could think to an ancient loan from a very ancient phase of IndoEuropean, and also this would be very interesting.

    I wrote:
    Anyway if there were ancient links amongst these languages, we should think to the haplogroup R1b in Europe as more ancient than Vizachero, Klyosov etc. are thinking, at least the Late Paleolithic/Younger Dryas.

    But later I wrote:
    It has been enough to consult the “Etymological Dictionary of Basque” by R.L. Trask posted by Maju on his site for falsifying this interpretation.

    horri (L), orri (B Sout L) n. ‘leaf’, orri (G HN) ‘large leaf’. TS ****{‘page’}. 1562. CF
    (h)orr-.
    OUO. CF by W**{2.1}.
    horbel (**), orbel (B **) n. **** + *bel ‘dark’ (M. 1961a: 63).
    hosto (L LN Z), osto (G HN S R), orsto (old LN), horsto (**), ostro (HN) n. ‘leaf’.
    1643. In G HN this is specialized to ‘small leaf’, with orri (above) for ‘large leaf’. +
    -zto dimin. {Not in The Dictionary.} *** The fifth form shows an unusual metathesis.

    Then "hosto" is from "horsto" and -zto is the diminutive. The word for "leaf" is "horri/orri".
    Nothing to do with IE.

    If I was you I would consult the Trask's dictionary also for "adur".

    ReplyDelete
  12. "... Basque adur is etymologically unrelated to the Greek word, despite its meaning can be roughly the same".

    Don't you think this is very strange. More so when there is at least another "religious" pan-European coincidence in the name of the bear (the hartz-arctos debate), not to mention that I have always suspected Ouranos to be the same as Urtzi (the sky as deity in Basque) and that Gaia sounds strangely too much like Basque "gai(a)" (matter, substance but also potential).

    For me all this is a too wide array of "coincidences" that demand research.

    "Also there's no real basis for linking April to Aphrodite other than a phonetical resemblance".

    It seems there's a pope of linguistics behind that interpretation: according to Gioello, he is "one of the greatest linguist of the 20th century". I'm not familiar with him but you probably are.

    I'd dare say that it makes sense but it's not central to the matter, just happened to be in the way...

    "But this isn't is what I've asked you".

    You did not ask for anything at all, did you?

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Anyway if there were ancient links amongst these languages, we should think to the haplogroup R1b in Europe as more ancient than Vizachero, Klyosov etc. are thinking, at least the Late Paleolithic/Younger Dryas".

    Of course. I have no doubt about that.

    I have clear that R1b1b2a1 in Europe is Gravettian or older and that R1b1b2a1a2 is at least from Magdalenian times (see here).

    But, as languages change much faster than genes, it is still possible that Vasconic is Neolithic arrival, even if Neolithic flows did not cause any major impact in West Europe in genetic terms.

    I am undecided on this second matter: I can't say for sure if Vasconic is Paleolithic or Neolithic as both can make sense.

    As for Trask's etymological dictionary I actually borrowed the link from Octavià's site, so thanks him. :)

    "-zto is the diminutive".

    I do not think this is documented. -(s)ko is documented but -zto is not. Trask is criticable as far as I know but I will leave that to linguists. All I can say is that his "History of the World according to Basques" is not too accurate in some aspects, even if it's also informative (for non-Basques specially) in many others.

    "The word for "leaf" is "horri/orri".
    Nothing to do with IE".

    Both are orri and osto (never sure where the h goes, as I am Biscayne). I think it's hosto and orri, right?

    "If I was you I would consult the Trask's dictionary also for "adur"".

    What does it say? I suspect adur comes from adi + ur (water-attention) or maybe ate + ur (water-gate). But it may well hide elements from other languages or such a remote past that cannot be discerned. The second part anyhow is clearly ur (water).

    ReplyDelete
  14. maju : "I have clear that R1b1b2a1 in Europe is Gravettian or older"

    IIRC, you said once that the Zarzian culture of Iran/Iraqi Kurdistan (older than 15,000 BC) was possibly of eastern Gravettian origin, right?

    Could this explain the presence of y-DNA I and mtDNA U5a and y-DNA R1b1b2a1* and some mtDNA H lineages in the Iranian region (even though R1b1b2a1 is not found near the Caucasus AFAIK and apparently the Zarzian culture is said to be similar to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarzian).

    But it could still mean that a population from the (south-?)east of Europe had 2 migrating branches one migrating in the Caucasus and the other one towards Iran, the Iranian one leaving more descendants.
    Does this sound plausible? (the presence of these haplogroups in Iran have to be explained somehow, anyway)

    This could indirectly prove the presence of R1a1b2a1 in Europe during the paleolithic epoch.

    About ur/water :

    If we are talking of a paleolithical link/connection between the ancestor of Basque and IE languages, could ur (water) be originally related to water (watar in Hittite, voda in Russian, hydor in Greek, wär/war in Tocharian, utur in Umbrian, etc...) with some accentuation making disappear the middle of the word through the time, like septim/septm becoming sem' in Russian.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "... you said once that the Zarzian culture of Iran/Iraqi Kurdistan (older than 15,000 BC) was possibly of eastern Gravettian origin, right?"

    Derived from Eastern European Epigravettian via the Caucasus, yes. At least that's what I have read, though it's possible that it has complex origins - I cannot judge in depth because my knowledge of Zarzian is limited.

    "Could this explain the presence of y-DNA I and mtDNA U5a and y-DNA R1b1b2a1* and some mtDNA H lineages in the Iranian region"...

    Potentially yes. But notice that R1b is very rare in Eastern Europe. I would not bet for R1b being in that region in the Paleolithic. It may well have arrived by other flows, namely the rock art connections of Anatolia via the Adriatic. Anatolia has much more common R1b including some of the European clades, which do look like backflows.

    In regards to the Wikipedia article, it has a major error: it says:

    "It is succeeded Baradostian culture", yet Baradostian is a pre-LGM culture. In the LGM and later the region seems to have beecome deserted, at least as far the archaeological record can tell.

    But I have not read any recent paper on the archaeology of the area: most seems pretty old references in fact. Wikipedia seems to argue after Burns (but link is broken) for continuity between Baradostian and Zarzian instead. My source (which is old, as I say: Alimen and Steve 1970) argues instead for disruption at the LGM and recolonization from Eastern Europe in the late UP/Epipaleolithic - but not too clearly maybe.

    "But it could still mean that a population from the (south-?)east of Europe had 2 migrating branches one migrating in the Caucasus and the other one towards Iran, the Iranian one leaving more descendants".

    I rather fall towards a back-migration via the West Balcans and Anatolia in the R1b case. This is because R1b is so extremely rare in Eastern Europe (excepting Bashkirs) that it doesn't seem to make any sense to think Eastern Europe ever played any role at all in regards to R1b.

    It may still explain other lineages like I (Eastern European probably) or mtDNA clades like U5a and H. Notice that H sublineages are very common in Central Asia, where they are co-dominant with G, so... not sure what to think exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "could ur (water) be originally related to water (watar in Hittite, voda in Russian, hydor in Greek, wär/war in Tocharian, utur in Umbrian, etc...)"

    Hmmm, why not? The PIE for water is *akwa AFAIK, so other forms need an explanation as substrate imports.

    I fail to see how voda relates with ur but maybe from an intermediate word like water?

    I have no idea how watar arrived to Hittite anyhow (if this is correct).

    Whatever the case, watar, water, hydor and utur seem all related. Why was then *akwa proposed for the PIE word? What are we, society, paying professional linguists for?

    It's an interesting thread to pull but right now I do not know where to start.

    Can W become U? It happens in English but what about other languages. I was always taught that Wölfang reads as /belfang/ (more or less) and never as /uolfang/ as our familiarity with English pronunciation would suggest. Once some Dutch guy contested me this but could not explain how W was read in Dutch anyhow.

    So can W become U or vice versa?

    ReplyDelete
  17. So can W become U or vice versa?

    Definitely, since the W can be variously pronounced very hard (V) or soft like the English W, or hardly at all, like hU.

    In low German, the pronunciation is similar to Slavic; somewhere between vadda and vodda - all of them very archaic, as expected for a word that is frequently used:

    there is the proposed PIE *wodor/*wedor/*uder-, from root *wed- (see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=water), and there you have the u again, like in udder I mentioned above (PIE *udhr).

    Aqua has the different PIE root *akwa (also *ap). Supposedly, this one refers more to the animate/living/sacral characteristic of water, whereas the former refers simply to the inanimate substance.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks, Eurologist. I was reading a bit yesterday night about the W letter and the argument is that it was invented to replace Latin V after this one evolved into the modern sound (between B and F, except in Spanish where it's plain B). Hence the original W should be much like English one: a consonantic U (oo sound), much like Y is a consonantic I (ee).

    In IPA phonetics it seems to be the case too.

    ...

    "there is the proposed PIE *wodor/*wedor/*uder-, from root *wed-"

    Where *wed- might have meant "wet", right?

    What does the suffix -or/-er mean? Actor?

    "Aqua has the different PIE root *akwa (also *ap). Supposedly, this one refers more to the animate/living/sacral characteristic of water, whereas the former refers simply to the inanimate substance".

    Would then *akwa be comparable to adur? At least conceptually...

    ReplyDelete
  19. On second thought, if *wedor means wetter as in "that which gets things wet" (not comparative "wetter than", of course) then I'd say it's not related at all with ur. Because the IE etymology looks very internally consistent and "modern" (as if it would have been created yesterday, so to say), while ur instead is at the root of many words in Basque instead (apparently). One would have to contest ur as being old at all in Basque in order to accept any relation.

    On the other hand, adur related to *ap (better than *akwa) might make sense.

    Also your *ap root for sacred water may be also a root for aphrós somehow?

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Would then *akwa be comparable to adur? At least conceptually..."

    But not phonetically. At any rate, I think it is easy for these additional concepts to switch sides, so to speak. See also below.

    "...then I'd say it's not related at all with ur."

    Yeah, I have a feeling the timing does not work out well, if the Basque ur is truly ancient (and not a more recent loan word from PIE). Sometimes, with loanwords it can be the prefix or suffix that survive, because the new language learner uses their (first, wrong) language intuition and falsely associates the wrong portion of the word with the word stem.

    "On the other hand, adur related to *ap (better than *akwa) might make sense."

    No, I still see adur close to Oder, Ader, artery, etc. I think when applied to rivers or what gives us life, the *wodor/*uder origin should be able attain an animated/ life-giving/ river-god element.

    "Also your *ap root for sacred water may be also a root for aphrós somehow?"

    Sounds reasonable to me. Also don't forget froth, which is basically also foam (O.E. afreoðan, "to froth." Coincidence?

    Also, "sacred" was probably not the best word choice on my part (because it kind of has Catholic connotations) - "water spirit" and "the spirit of water" may be better.

    Interestingly, "weather" is not the thing that can make us wet outside, but supposedly comes from PIE *we-dhro-, "weather," from base *we- "to blow" (German has retained this: wehen = the blowing that the wind does).

    ReplyDelete
  21. "...IE etymology looks very internally consistent and "modern" (as if it would have been created yesterday, so to say)"

    Yeah, there is something inherently beautiful in IE that fits the make-up of our brains. It started out with overwhelming onomatopoeia and the use of vowel changes to indicate all kinds of moods and basic (and thus often-used) grammatical needs.

    Then more and more, these structures became highly sophisticated and cerebral, teasing our competitive nature.

    While at the same time, IE words and their associations and origins at every use reach deep into our guts to seek the most profound emotional response. If Goebbels could have, he would have invented IE languages - so would have advertising agencies.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Uh?

    I do not see that you say anywhere. IE for me is the art of making vowels disappear, rather ugly in my opinion.

    I do not see either anything "inherently beautiful", nor that it "fits the make-up of our brains" (not at all).

    What I said is that water looks as invented yesterday, what means that original IE may have lost the notion of water altogether (should be one of the most basic words, right?)

    This to me is most difficult to understand. I have no idea what that criminal jerk of Goebbels would have invented but personally I'd begin a language with basic words as water, stone, wood, fire, me, you, this, that, to be, to do, to say...

    I would never make water out of wet but the other way around, it's logical, right?

    F. Krutwig, who was a polyglot from my hometown (anarchist but much of his age), thought that IE was a poor language and that Greek was able to be used for philosophy only because it was heavily contaminated from a pre-IE substrate, which he compared to Basque grammatical complexity (in whose verbs everything is present synthetically).

    Probably that's also an exaggeration (after all languages are instrumental, not fundamental) but in general I have not particular admiration for IE grammar or sounds. And making water out of wet sounds totally crazy to me: it's just not rational at all.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ maju :

    "Hmmm, why not? The PIE for water is *akwa AFAIK, so other forms need an explanation as substrate imports. "

    There are other examples of two words for the same thing in IE, even though it's supposed they were designating a slightly different meaning (like a different state (or "scale"?); think of "fire" : on one hand latin ignis, lithuanian ugnis, hittite agniš, sanskrit agnis, russian ogon', etc..., on the other hand, english fire (and all the germanic words), anc. Greek pyr-, Umbrian pir-, tocharian por/pūwar, armenian hur. I've read that the "fire" category is more for a bonfire, originally).

    But now that I think of it, I think I had read somewhere that *woder is thought to originally mean "river", can anyone confirm that this theory exist? (although the explanation of Eurologist or the "that which gets things wet" explanation all make perfect sense)

    In this case, *woder and adur seem strikingly similar and they name the same thing. Could this be a hint, potentially showing a (very) ancient link (at least population contact) between the ancestor of the Basque language and proto-IE?

    If this is so, the loanwords likely entered PIE since apparently "adur" is composed with "ur" meaning water which doesn't seem to have a _direct_ equivalent in IE.

    So? Another case of misleading resemblance?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Not sure what to say - perhaps read once more what I actually wrote, perhaps with less bias.

    All languages are dynamic and compete - some simply make more sense to new speakers than others, and/or reach deeper into our emotions.
    I think you need to look at IE from thousands of years ago, or the summation of what exists today, rather than a single present day IE language that may have tainted your perception.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "There are other examples of two words for the same thing"

    Sure, wagg. It was just a first thought and I was surely wrong.

    "Another case of misleading resemblance?"

    I think that we are in a case where we cannot jump to any conclusions. These things could be connected or mere coincidences, and that's why the statistical value of mass lexical comparison helps, because one coincidence proves nothing but 30% (?) of 'coincidences' it's too much of a coincidence.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "... some simply make more sense to new speakers than others, and/or reach deeper into our emotions.
    I think you need to look at IE from thousands of years ago, or the summation of what exists today, rather than a single present day IE language that may have tainted your perception".

    Maybe Slavic or Sanscrit are like "whoa!" But I find Romances or English very much unimpressive. They do not even have declensions anymore, in the case of English not even verbal conjugations almost, the order of the sentence is rigid SVO not allowing for subtle meanings on what part of the sentence is emphasized (the one before the verb in Basque). The verb does not indicate the indirect object person and number (actually not even the direct object's) and ergative form does not exist either...

    It's an amazingly simple language. Good for quick learning but not too impressive in grammatical synthetic power, really. At least it retains a verb for to be (Arabic lost it).

    Compare Basque "dut" with the English equivalent "I have it" (or "he/she"), "diot" with the English equivalent "I say it to him" (or " to her/it"). This kind of synthetic capacity is not, AFAIK, achieved by any single IE language.

    But well, as I say, languages are instrumental, not so much fundamental.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yeah, as I mentioned before, it seems to me you are just focusing too much on a selected subset of today's IE languages, and their superficial deficiencies.

    I grew up at a time when in Northern Germany, low German was still widely spoken, and was my grandparent's first language. Consequently, I don't even ever think of or have in mind High German when contemplating (ancient) linguistics.

    Learning English pretty much confirmed my thoughts about old Germanic early on, and learning Latin and some classic Greek confirmed to me that Latin seemed like a creole of a (pre-)proto-Germanic early Italic with significant Greek influences.

    But in all of this, I always could see the common origin of a language that had two equally important and deep-rooted faces: the onomatopoeia-animalistic/gut-response one, and the methodological, cerebral, highly constructed one - both working on each other and pushing each other up.

    ReplyDelete
  28. "I would never make water out of wet but the other way around, it's logical, right?"

    IE usually contemplates two or more characteristics of something we discern and experience: the everyday practical (mundane physical) properties, and its unique, animalistic, spiritual identifying properties (spirits).

    (1) Water is the wet-making agent, the one that transforms utter dryness (of the landscape, plant, or mouth/body) into a more normal state, or a normal state into a soggy one. The wet-maker.

    (2) Water has the (almost unique to water - and it takes 20th century chemist to tell the difference) property to flow - which is magic in a world of solids and ephemeral, body/mass-less gases (air/wind). This is the most important second property of water: the one of bodily fluids that are strongly associated with life (blood, mucous, slime, milk, vaginal outflow, semen). This property is magical, spiritual, life-giving and life-preserving. Flow is the essence of life, so much so that it determines time.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I may agree about the unique properties of water but that's a reason for it to have a proper name, not a derived one, as it's one of the fundamental pillars of human or earthly reality.

    If anything water as "wet-doer", would suggest a taboo-avoidance word, as we saw with bear ("the brown one", "the honey eater"): something that is too sacred (magical) to be mentioned by name and is hence described by circumlocution. This could make sense and in this case it would suggest a PIE origin of this taboo-avoidance practice for water (i.e. avoidance of *ap/*akwa, replaced by wet-maker), while in the case of bear there is no such practice until the Germanic and Slavic stages, it seems, thousands years later.

    However as far as I can see the parallel and probably sacred *akwa has its own scattered presence, obviously in Latin but also in Scythian and more diffusely in several Nordic langaues and Hittite (where it does not mean just water anymore but water body of some sort or to drink).

    ...

    As for onomateyicism, I'd say that a language full of that is suggestive of a recent invention... or reinvention. Don't ask me how.

    Of course onomatopeyicism is normal but it is normal to make up for a word you do not know or you do not want to use, it's not any signature of pedigree but the opposite.

    ReplyDelete

Please, be reasonably respectful when making comments. I do not tolerate in particular sexism, racism nor homophobia. Personal attacks, manipulation and trolling are also very much unwelcome here.The author reserves the right to delete any abusive comment.

Preliminary comment moderation is... ON (sorry, too many trolls).