16 November 2009

Sea meadows

Although considered by Vascologists to be a borrowing from Latin sŏlum1, Basque sor(h)o 'cultivated field; meadow'2 is actually an Iberian loanword related to PNC *dʒʒǝlV 'plain, plateau'3 whose native counterpart is the archaic Lapurdian zar(h)o 'meadow'. This means PNC *ddʒ corresponds to an apico-alveolar sibilant /ś/ (Basque <s>) in Iberian but a lamino-alveolar /s/ (Basque <z>) in Vasconic.

This root is related to Eurasiatic *TSolV 'steppe, valley, meadow', reflected in Slavic *selo 'arable field' but which in other IE languages underwent a shift meaning to 'sea, lake'4: Greek hélos 'wet meadow, marsh', Old Indian sáras- 'lake, pond, pool'.
1 Borrowed into Basque zoru 'ground, floor'.
2 With the Biscayan variant solo (B) 'field (prepared for sowing)'.
3 Bengtson proposed a different etymology from PNC *tʃʃHæɫu 'earth, ground, sand', which semantically doesn't fit.
4 For people grown up inland, large water extensions look like meadows.

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