15 October 2011

The Atlantidic substrate (updated version)

The German linguist Theo Vennemann1 is the proponent of a Western Europe substrate languages he calls Atlantidic, an Afrasian language akin to Semitic and which left loanwords in Germanic, for example *krabb- 'crab' (also Greek kárabos), which he relates to Semitic *ʕa-k’rab- 'scorpion'. 

However, this word is rather isolated within Afrasian, with no likely cognates except perhaps (and these by no means sure) in Chadic. But as both crabs and scorpions have large claws, IMHO this is cognate to PIE *ghreb(h)- 'to take, to seize' and possibly also to Kartvelian *k’rab-/*k’rap- (-e-) 'to gather'2.  

Other loanwords I've investigated myself are Celtic *gabro-, Latin caper 'he-goat', Germanic *xafra- 'buck'3 (with no plausible PIE etymology), which can be linked to Arabic ɣafr-, ɣufr- 'young of deer/goat', and also Latin aper, Germanic *ibura-, Balto-Slavic *weper- 'boar'4, which would correspond to Arabic ʕifr-, ʕufr- 'pig, boar; piglet'5. 

These evidence
would suggest that
Atlantidic was spoken in Neolithic Europe and whose linkings with Chadic would date back to the time the Sahara had a monsoonic climate (roughly between 6,000-3,000 BC).
1 An Indo-Europeanist formerly defensor of the glottalic theory. 
2 Wrongly linked by Nostraticists to words meaning 'fruit, harvest'.
Greek kápros 'boar' could have arisen from contamination with the other word.
4 The initial labial arises from assimilation to the following *u.
5 Possibly a specialization from the preceding root.

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