IE in Balkans and Semitic?

Patrick C. Ryan proto-language at
Tue Feb 9 12:19:48 UTC 1999

Dear Miguel and IEists:

-----Original Message-----
From: Miguel Carrasquer Vidal <mcv at>
Date: Thursday, February 04, 1999 12:13 AM

>Rick Mc Callister <rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu> wrote:

>>I was thinking of the root of taurus & steer [I'll let someone else come up
>>with the exact root].

>PSem *t_awr- (or *c^awr-), PIE has *steur-, *st(H)uHr-
>(*st(h)u:r-), *stewHr- (*stew at r-), *tHwr-/*t at ur-, with the usual
>mess when laryngeal meets semivowel (is that *(s)tewH2r-,
>*(s)teH2wr- or *(s)tH2ewr- ?)  Not everybody is convinced that
>the forms with s- (e.g. ON stjo:rr) are related to the forms
>without (e.g. ON thjo:rr).  Not everybody is convinced that the
>IE and Semitic forms are related, and those that think so are I
>guess divided into three camps: (a) the relationship is genetic
>(from memory, please correct if I'm wrong, Alan Bomhard lists
>this as a Nostratic root),

For whatever it may be worth, I agree with Bomhard but I reconstruct the
Nostratic root as: N *t(h)awar-.

My reasons are:

1) I believe the term means 'swollen back', and refers to either the 'bison'
(cf. Old Prussian <tauris>, 'bison', or possibly a bovine like the zebu.

2) Based on N *t(h)awar-, the AA (through Semitic) reflexes are what I
predict: N <t(h)> = IE <t>  = Arabic <th>.

3) In addition, I believe there is a possibility that Egyptian <tw3>, 'man
of low station', may ultimately be based on 'humpback'.

4) According to the correspondences I have developed, N *t(h)awar- would
result in Sumerian <dur>; and we have <dur-3> as 'ass-stallion'.  This might
be a case of transference from '**zebu' if both were used as draft or

>(b) the word was borrowed from Sem.
>into IE,

I see no credible evidence of this.

>(c) the word was borrowed from IE into Sem.

The divergent Hebrew form, <sh-w-r>, might be a result of Hittite reflexes
of IE *stewer-.

>Again, as
>with the "copper" word, I'm not sure if the Semitic word has an
>internal etymology within Semitic.  In IE, the word may be
>connected to the root *(s)teH2w- "be strong",

Obviously, I would prefer to connect it with IE *tew(H?)-. And do we need to
postulate a "laryngeal" to account for Semitic <th-w-r>?

>and again there is
>some archaeological evidence that cattle was indeed a later
>Anatolian or SE European addition to the original Near Eastern
>Neolithic inventory of livestock (sheep and goats).  So I would
>lean towards the third camp.

If the term originated as a designation for 'bison', would that not put it
firmly in the steppes? But if as 'zebu', or 'gnu', ...?


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