Greek question & the pre-history of *nekwt

Patrick C. Ryan proto-language at
Mon Feb 8 22:51:33 UTC 1999

Dear Glen and IEists:
 -----Original Message-----
From: Glen Gordon <glengordon01 at>
To: indo-european at <indo-european at>
Date: Monday, February 08, 1999 1:32 PM
Subject: Greek question & the pre-history of *nekwt

>>I believe the base of <nu:kto/s> is IE *neugh-,

>You make it sound like a religion. Who else believes in the Church of
>*neugh? :)

I do not know what religion has to do with this question from my standpoint.

In any case, I have subsequently revised my reconstruction to *negh-w-.

>My suspicion rather is that the word is indeed old but of the form
>*nekwt (which is not so contraversial at all) from an earlier verb
>**nekw- "to sleep".

This flies in the face of the Greek forms, which appear to be related,
beginning nukh-, since IE <kw> does not normally produce Greek <kh>.

Also, if Sturtevant is correct in assuming that voiceless stops are
indicated in Hittite by doubled spellings, then Hittite nek(uz) can only
represent IE *neg-, *negh-, or *negw-.

>We have Hittite nekuz, not to mention English
>"night", which show that there was no *-u- in the word.

This is neatly explained by *negh-w-, the *-w- of which apparently in
carried over into the first syllable in some cases in Greek (perhaps
through -*gw-). In any case, you have to be able to explain the -u- of the

[ Moderator's comment:
  But the stem in question has a labiovelar, not a palatal+labial cluster.  And
  Cowgill's Law explains the development of *o > u quite nicely.
  --rma ]

>As far as I
>understand, Greek -y-

There is no Greek <y> except in anglicized spelling of Greek words.

[ Moderator's comment:
  I do not believe that Mr. Gordon was referring to orthography but to the
  phonetic value of the letter in question in later Attic.  It is more than
  --rma ]

>was the result of the following labiovelar
>affecting the previous vowel (anticipatory labialisation as in Latin).

This explanation takes that into consideration.

>Without getting too entangled in a flimsy Nostratic explanation that
>ignores all IE laws as Patrick has done,

If you are trying to be offensive, you have succeeded.

>*nekwt is similar to words in
>Uralic (Finnish nukkua) that mean "to sleep". Hence, "sleep time" ->

How pathetically naif! Finnish nukkua is generally recognized to be a
loanword into Finnish from Germanic so no Uralic form can be reconstructed.

>I recall there might be similar words in Altaic? However, no
>proposals of *gh need apply in its etymology nor imaginative comparisons
>to Egyptian of all things. This still begs the question of why there is
>-kh- in Greek and, that part, I dunno.

It is now obvious why you did not also notice the -u- of the Greek form.


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