R: R: indoeuropean/hand

Paolo Agostini pagos at bigfoot.com
Fri Aug 13 18:56:54 UTC 1999

On 13 August 1999 12:26 Miguel Carrasquer Vidal <mcv at wxs.nl> wrote:

>Beekes and van der Meer tentatively link Etruscan <etan-> in the
>Pyrgi bilingual to <idus> ("nac thefarie veliiunas thamuce cleva
>etanal masan tiur unias $elace vacal etc."), where it occurs next
>to "masan" (the name of a month) and "tiur" (moon, month).

They might be right. Nonetheless, the fact that the word occurs in the
bilingual (that is Phoenician and Etruscan) Laminae of Pyrgi supplies
further support to the Semitic origin of the word.

The Phoenician/Punic influx in Caere/Pyrgi was very strong. An
archaeological finding in Pyrgi showed the presence, near the temple of
Ishtar, of a peculiar building with seventeen small cells (the total number
of cells was very likely 20) with a large scope and several altars in front
of them: Archaeologists assume that this might have been the sacrarium
(sanctuary) where the priestesses of the Phoenician goddess Ishtar practized
the sacred prostitution. A mention of this custom is possibly to be found in
Plautus where he accuses the Etruscan girls of prostituting themselves
_tusco more_ ("the Etruscan way") in order to raise their dowry.

Another peculiarity of some tombs found in the area of Pyrgi / Caere
(Cerveteri) is the inscription _mutna, mutana_ meaning "sepulchre" or
"tomb". The word does not occur elsewhere in Etruria. It is very likely a
compound word from mut- + -na, and I am prone to link the first part of it
to Phoenician MWT "death, dead".

>There is also Sumerian iti ~ itu, id4 "moon".

This might be the ultimate origin of _idus_, yet the word arrived in the
Italic / Latin world much later. Akkadian, Aramaic or Phoenicio-Punic might
have played an important role in the transmission of particular
Kulturwoerter. For example, Sabatino Moscati in his book "Italia Punica"
(Rusconi. Milano, 1995) maintains that the Phoenicio-Punic influence in
Italy has been largely underestimated. And let's not forget that Caere /
Pyrgi are only 50 km away from Rome.

[BTW, if you listen to an Arab when he pronounces the word _'id al fitr_ or
_'id al kabir_ "the great festival" (that is the last day of the month of
Ramadhan) you will easily realize why the 'ayin was vocalized as an /e/ in

>>Latin has a number of Semitic loan-words which are due to areal contacts,
>>cfr. _cornu_ "horn" from Semitic _qarnu_ "horn"; _taurus_ (and Greek
>>_tauros_) "bull" from Semitic _tawr_ of s.m.;

>Well, these words are not only Latin.  *k^er-n- "horn" is general
>IE, and *tauro- occurs in Greek, Albanian, Balto-Slavic and
>Germanic (Iranian too, if you count Av. staora- together with
>Germanic *stiur-).

Possibly, Bovidae were first domesticated and used for agriculture in the
Near East, and it seems that the Semitic Kulturwoerter related thereto
spread very far.

>>_vacca_ "cow" from Semitic _*baqa_ of s.m. etc.

>Doubtful.  Why v-?

You are right. I should have written _*baqa'_ and/or  _*bhaqa'_. Cfr. also
Turkic _byq_, _buqa_ and _byqa_, Russian _byq_,  Bulgarian _bik_, Hungarian
_bika_ "bull" &tc.. All these words are likely to originate from the Semitic
root BQ' (beth-qoph-'ayin) "to cleave, split, break open" (i.e. the
ground) -- cfr. the forms having an _R_ as the third radical as in  Hebrew
_baqar_ "cattle, herd, oxen" and Aramaic_Syriac _baqara_ "cattle, herd".

I'm afraid this answer of mine is severely off-topic for the IE-list, and I
apologize for this.

               Paolo Agostini

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