Pre-IE and migrations

Glen Gordon glengordon01 at
Mon Jan 25 05:59:40 UTC 1999

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. This, in addition, is in
contrast to the beautifully preserved words I've seen in Etruscan that
can be very easily compared to IE without much explanation as to why.
This awkward change you propose, Miguel, is in violation of my
understanding of Etruscan-IE relationship. Two seperate contacts
(whether both Semitic or not) seems to be a less exhausting explanation
of the etymology of this word.

>Whether this requires contact with a wholly hypothetical western
>Semitic group, I wouldn't know. There's also the unexpected Samoyed
>forms... In any case, all of this looks to me as possible evidence of
>a Wanderwort, not of Voelkerwanderungen.

Well, the Wanderwort explanation wouldn't explain why the IE-related
Etruscan has a word for "seven" that is not reasonably relatable to IE's
*septm unless two seperate sources exist in this case.

At any rate, back to IE and Anatolia, if IE were in Anatolia for such a
long time, one would expect that Semitic, Caucasian or another non-IE
Anatolian language would "do a number" on IE just as Rick McCallister
describes Armenian's Turkic influence. 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?? It still doesn't sit well with me and I
think for good linguistical reason.

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.

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

...Or vice-versa.

>If so, this would be hard to reconcile with a
>Pontic-Caspian location of PIE until 3500 BC, given that the
>Pontic-Caspian was not a metallurgical center, and the copper that we
>find there was imported from the Balkans.

Again, why must it be a metallurgical center? If IE speakers weren't in
the midst of such a center, it would make sense that they had borrowed
words like this from North Semitic in absence of words of their own. I
don't think IE had much linguistical sway on its Mesopotomian neighbours
since little evidence suggests such a thing.

Glen Gordon
glengordon01 at

Kisses and Hugs

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