NSemitic borrowings: in response to Greg Web

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at wxs.nl
Tue Feb 2 17:39:35 UTC 1999

Theo Vennemann wrote:

[ moderator snip ]

>>Well, what I actually suggested was metathesis of *sepm ~ *sebm,
>>without the /t/, as in Germanic [and Samoyed (???)].

>May I ask where these two views are published?

I was simply referring to my message of Sat 23 Jan 1999, 13:06:13
GMT, "Re: Pre-IE and migrations", where I said:

>>Well, we also find the lack of /t/ in Germanic (sibun, seven), so I'd
>>say Etruscan semph *is* most likely due to metathesis (wacky or not)
>>of something like *sepm or *sebm.

>I am afraid I will be
>quite embarrassed, because I explained Etrusc. _semph_ as the result of
>coda metathesis -- and thus by a common type of sound change -- with-
>out giving credit for this same view, or the opposite view ("an odd sort
>of metathesis"), in "Etymologische Beziehungen im Alten Europa", Der
>GinkgoBaum: Germanistisches Jahrbuch f|r Nordeuropa 13 (1995),
>39-115., ' 7.21 _sieben_.

Which I have read, so, if anybody, it's me that should have given
credit for the idea of coda metathesis.

Upon re-reading that passage, I find we are in agreement on
Etruscan semph, as well as the Akkadian/IE/Basque/Etruscan
correlation of 6 ~ 7 with s^- ~ s- (credit for the identification
of Etruscan s'a with "6", not "4", by an alternative and
plausible re-interpretation of the Tuscan dice, should be given
to Beekes and van der Meer).

The Basque forms <sei> and <zazpi> are a bit problematical,
however.  From (East-)Semitic *s^es^s^- and *seb- we would have
expected to see <ses-> and <zeb-> c.q. <sesi> and <zepzi>, with
-zi appended as in zortzi "8" and [analogical] bederatzi "9" <
*bederatzu.  As to <sei>, Larry Trask's "The History of Basque"
mentions a few cases of sibilant dissimilation through loss
(*Sanso > Anso "Sancho"), but these affect the first, not the
second, sibilant.  The <a> in <zazpi> is mysterious, and we need
a metathesis *zapzi > zazpi, which in itself isn't too much of a
problem, not in a borrowed item.  I'd like to know what the <a>
is doing in Welsh saith (< *saxt < *sapt- ??).  Do we know the
Gaulish or Celtiberian for "6" and "7"?  My guess would be,
preliminarily, that the Basque forms are more likely to be
borrowings from Celtic (We. chwech, saith) than directly from

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at wxs.nl

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