Oldest words in English?
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Sun Mar 1 20:01:00 UTC 2009
AHD suggests that "The origins of the word tin may date to a time before Europe had been settled by speakers of Indo-European languages, such as the Germanic and Celtic languages." This is, of course, entirely possible. However, I understood the claim to be that "tin" is not just of non-Indo-European origin, but actually older than Proto-Indo-European, which is unlikely.
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of RonButters at AOL.COM
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 2:30 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Oldest words in English?
FWIW, in a "word history note," AMERICAN HERITAGE accepts as possible the suggestion of a Bronze Age borrowing (from some unknown non IE language) of the proto word for TIN into the proto Celtic and Germanic languages.
Or maybe some smart early Celtic metalurgist decided to name the word after her mother Tena (with i/e merger before nasals).
In a message dated 3/1/09 2:04:59 PM, JMB at STRADLEY.COM writes:
> I'm doubtful that tin has been known long enough to be from a
> pre-Indo-European substrate. Wikipedia says it was used in bronze by
> 3500 BC, but I doubt if it's much older than that, and I assume that
> words from a pre-Indo-European substrate would have to be quite a bit
> older. Apples, badness, and gold, of course, do have the requisite
> antiquity, but when one part of a claim is demolished, I tend to look
> askance at its remaining parts.
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 11:06 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: Oldest words in English?
> If you're like me, you have in front of you a copy of Norris
> McWhirter's _Guinness Book of World Records: New! Giant 1980
> Super-Edition!_, and you're looking at p. 207, which states:
> "Some as yet unpublished research indicates some words of a
> pre-Indo-European substrate survive in English, including apple
> (apal), bad (bad), gold (gol), and tin (tin)."
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