the Wheel and Dating PIE

Stanley Friesen sarima at
Mon Dec 20 02:51:29 UTC 1999

[ Moderator's note:
  I have changed Mr. Friesen's address from the original "sarima at"
  to the current "sarima at" so that personal replies will go to the
  correct system.
  --rma ]

At 01:48 PM 11/2/99 -0500, X99Lynx at wrote:
>Sean Crist replied (dated 10/28/99 2:09:32AM):
><<Dating the final PIE unity to 7000 BCE is therefore quite inacceptible,
>because the wheel is not attested in the material record until much
> ...
>Starting with the linguistic side - very clearly, there are cases where
>technological and cultural innovations carry their own terminology with them

Yes, and such items generally carry with them clear evidence of their later
date - specifically they are "too similar" across divergent subfamilies.  A
good example is the word for coffee in the Romance languages: it is
phonetically almost identically in all of them, including French which
normally has a severe loss of sounds in inherited words.

So, the presence of all of the normal sound changes in the word for wheel
in all of the branches of IE rules out a time of origin after those sound
changes had occurred.  At the latest the word for wheel had to spread
through the entire IE area within a *very* short time after the loss of
unity.  A period of a thousand years later is already *far* too long after
the break-up for the spread of a word sharing the individual idiosyncrasies
of the various branches.

Thus it is the *combination* of the linguistic and archeological evidence
that rules out the 7000 BC date.

>and enter different languages with a common name long after those languages
>have separated.  (In some cases, they have even been conformed after the fact
>to the local sound rules.)

Only idiosyncratically, and thus certainly never in *all* of the divergent
languages.  It might have been retrofitted in one or two branches of IE,
but having such a  rare event occurring independently in *all* branches is
unreasonable in the extreme.

>Awhiles back, Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote (3/9/99 12:12:33 AM):
><<The other words related to horse technology yield no Hittite
>cognates (Hittite "wheel" is not *kwekwlo- or *rotHo- but
><hurki>, related only to Tocharian <wa"rka"nt> "circle, wheel"),
>except for two curious items: "shaft/pole", Hittite hissa ~ Skt.
>i:s.a:, Grk. oie:ks, Slav. oje(s)- and "(to) harness", Hittite
>turiia- ~ Skt. dhu:r-,...>>

Hittite is a difficult case since most of its vocabulary is non-IE.  It
would be interesting to cross-check this in some more conservative members
of the Anatolian family.

Of course in many ways horse" is a better basis than "wheel".  But in the
final analysis one cannot depend on any *single* word.  One must use an
extended portion of the technical vocabulary.

May the peace of God be with you.         sarima at

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