Pre-IE and migrations

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at
Wed Feb 3 15:16:04 UTC 1999

"Glen Gordon" <glengordon01 at> wrote:

>Miguel on Etruscan "semph" and Semitic borrowing:

>>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.

>But this is one step up beyond Germanic. We should expect a much more
>regular change than this. You're assuming metathesis as well as a loss
>of *-t, as well as an Etruscan /ph/ = IE *p correlation which I, at
>least, have not seen substantiated in data.

So what should IE (or Semitic) *p correspond with?  Consider that
Etruscan only has plain unvoiced and aspirated unvoiced stops,
and that it unfortunately shows considerable variation
(dialectal, historical) in the spelling of aspirates vs.
non-aspirates (p/ph, t/th, c/ch), so there's no easy way to tell
whether <semph> was originally <semph> or <semp>.  Note also that
the numbers 7-9 all end in -p(h) (semph, cezp, nurph), so there's
your trigger for the metathesis if you insist on calling it

>At any rate, back to IE and Anatolia, if IE were in Anatolia for such a
>long time,

Who says?  I date the entry of Anatolian into Anatolia no
different from Mallory, i.e. ca. 3000 BC (Troy I).  Where I
differ is that I put the Anatolians in the Balkan peninsula
before that time, not in the steppe.

>Yet amongst all that contact over
>what would have been many millenia prior to IE, we can still connect IE
>to Uralic, a Steppe language??

Uralic is not a "Steppe language".  There's not a shred of
evidence that it was ever spoken in the Eurasian steppe.  Sure we
can connect IE to Uralic, if we accept some version of the
Nostratic hypothesis, but we can equally connect it with
Kartvelian or Afro-Asiatic.

>A European explanation is too far west because it doesn't take into
>account the linguistic ties to the Black Sea area, including that of
>North Semitic. Ironically, you would dismiss such a westerly adoption of
>a Semitic word in Etruscan... Hmmm. There's a paradox.

There is no "North Semitic".  The Semitic numerals we have been
discussing are found over the entire Mediterranean area.  We can
debate about whether Egyptian "6" <sjsw> and "7" <sfxw> are
cognate with the Semitic forms or borrowings.  Berber <> and
<sa> are almost certainly borrowings from Semitic *sidc^- and
*sab3-.  IE *s(w)ek^s and *sep(t)m and the Basque and Etruscan
forms have been discussed.  I don't dismiss the adoption of a
Semitic word in Etruscan.  Etruscan was spoken in Greece and
Western Anatolia before 1200 BC, closer to Semitic than IE.  I
think there may be reasons to doubt that Basque adopted the words
directly from Semitic (an IE intermediary, such as Celtic, seems
more likely).  I do not doubt that IE *s(w)ek^s and *septm are
ultimately of Semitic, nay Akkadian, origin, but they may have
been adopted whether PIE was spoken in Anatolia, the Balkans, the
Caucasus or the northern Pontic (the Caspian seems less likely).
None of this implies migrations of Semites to the shores of the
Black Sea, just direct or indirect trading contacts.

>>And since we're speculating, I have always thought the fact that the
>>archaeological evidence for metal-working (copper) points to the
>>Balkans as the oldest center looks supportive of my hypothesis that
>>the Neolithic Balkans (Vinc^a culture etc.) were at least partially
>>IE (Anatolian) speaking.

>Why must IE be the "oldest center" for metal-working? It doesn't seem to
>particularly point to anything at all.

The Balkans are one of the oldest copper working centers.
Archaeology says so.

>The Akkadian (eru^) and Sumerian (urudu) words for copper might well
>>be borrowings from PIE *H1reudh- "red; copper".

>...Or vice-versa.

No.  Akk. eru^ and Sum. urudu have, AFAIK, no etymology in
Akkadian or Sumerian (trisyllabic urudu is surely not a Sumerian
word).  IE *H1reudh- means "red".  And if the word has an
Indo-European etymology, as it surely has, the only explanation
is that the metallurgical centers in the Balkans were IE
speaking.  Sumerians and Akkadians would hardly have adopted this
word from a region that itself imported copper from the Balkans
such as the Pontic steppe.  And if there were trade contacts
between the Balkans, Anatolia and the Near East for the "copper"
word to go from IE to Akkadian, there's also a route for the
Akkadian words for "6" and "7" to have gone from Akkadian to
Etruscan and IE.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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