30 April 2010

El roble y el haya

El IE regional del NW (no PIE) *perkw- tiene aparentemente dos formas, una masculina 'roble' (latín quercus 'roble, encina') y otra femenina 'pino' (inglés fir 'abeto'). Se trata de un préstamo (loanword) vasco-caucásico a partir del PNC *χwɨrkkV 'árbol, roble', con *χw > *p.

El PIE *bheH2g´o- 'haya' (latín fāgus 'haya', griego phēgos 'roble', ruso buz 'olmo') es también de origen vasco-caucásico a partir del PNC *mħoqqwe (˜ -ʕ-) 'roble'.

Efectivamente, tal y como propuso Starostin en un viejo artículo, el PIE contiene un buen número de préstamos vasco-caucásicos1 de época neolítica. Las correspondencias fonéticas entre éstos y el PNC sugieren una única lengua de origen, que tendría características como:

1) PNC *w- > b- en posición inicial. 
2) PNC *l/*r caen en ciertos grupos consonánticos (clusters).
3) PNC *l  > r intervocálicamente y ante consonantes.
4) Una transformación del sistema vocálico del PNC que implica la delabialización de PNC *o.
1 Hay que aclarar que el proto norcaucásico (PNC) reconstruído por Starostin y Nikolayev es una entidad mucho más antigua que lo que aparentemente se podría pensar, y por tanto, más próxima a lo que sería el auténtico proto-vasco-caucásico, aunque Starostin nunca incluyó el euskera ni la hipótesis vasco-caucásica en sus investigaciones.

15 April 2010

Crackpots in action

In historical linguistics, the term crackpot is applied to people (no matter whether academic or amateur) who defend absurd theories (and also to the theories themselves).  Crackpots should be differentiated from pseudo-linguists, people with none or little knowledge of linguistics who engage themselves in the subject with catastrophic results (e.g. Edo Nyland or Polat Kaya).

I'm going to list the crackpots I've got acquainted with in my own career1. The first one is the French Arnaud Fournet, who has posited an "Proto-Exo-African" [sic] super-family to replace Nostratic. Not only he considers Basque and Etruscan to be remnants of a Paleo-European substrate2, but he also claims Yenisseian is an IE language, and has "discovered" several imaginary IE substrate languages in present-day France. Recently, he has written with the Nostraticist Allan Bomhard a paper on the supposed relationship between IE and Hurrian.

The Canadian Glen Gordon is known for his Indo-Aegean hypothesis relating IE and Etruscan3. Being a sui generis Nostraticist, he's a Bomhard's fan but a harsh critic of Starostin4. He also likes to "nip in the bud" his rivals' theories.

The German Theo Vennemann is an academic scholar who believes OEH isn't related to IE but to Basque, constituting a "Vasconic" substrate. He also posits an "Atlantidic" substrate akin to Semitic in the Atlantic fringe5.

The Italian Mario Alinei is the champion of the so-called Paleolithic Continuity Theory (PCT) of IE origins, which states that IE languages were already spoken in their respective historical homelands since the Mesolithic. The Valencian Jesús Sanchis is one of his supporters.

Last but not least is Michel Morvan, an unortodox French Vascologist who posited a genetical relationship between Basque and Eurasiatic in his doctoral thesis Les origines linguistiques du Basque (1996).
1 I should notice that some of them have criticized my own work, even to the point of making personal attacks and censoring me in their own blogs/lists.
2 In his own words, Basque and Etruscan "never moved an inch".
3 In the same line than the Spanish Indo-Europeanist Rodríguez Adrados, but a more sophisticated approach.
4 Even mentioning the name Starostin makes him angry.
5 According to Wikipedia, he now has replaced this theory with a Punic superstrate in Germanic.

01 April 2010

Words for 'sea'

There's no universal word for 'sea' in IE languages. The most widespread (Celtic, Latin, Germanic, Balto-Slavic) one is *mori-, related to Altaic *mju:ri 'water'.

Another widespread root is *seH2l- 'salt, sea'1 > Greek halê 'sea'2, which I think ultimately comes from PNC *q’eɦlV (˜ -ɫ-) 'bitter'3, with an evolution PNC *q’- > pre-PIE *χ- > PIE *s- (by Fournet's Law). This Vasco-Caucasian root is reflected in Basque gatz 'salt', gazi 'salty' + PNC *ts’s’wenhV 'salt'4 > *gas-dane > gazta(i), gazna 'cheese', both Cantabrian loanwords.

Dolgopolsky proposes a Paleo-Eurasian root *dalqV 'wave' (ND 526) reflected in IE *dhelH- > Greek thálassa (Attic thálatta) 'sea'. In a IE substrate language (probably Italoid), this root gives Greek sálos 'turbulent movement of the sea, flushing of the waves', Latin salum 'open sea; sea waves'5.
1 Without any linguistic evidence, Arnaud Fournet relates this to Kartvelian *zoɣw-. See his document.
2 A feminine word whose masculine counterpart is halós 'salt'.
3 The glottalized stop is retained (with secondary labialization) in Kartvelian *q’wel- 'cheese'.
4 Native outputs from this root are itsaso 'sea', itze 'sea' (an archaic form quoted by Trombetti) + urde 'pig' > izurde, gizaurde 'dolphin' (lit. 'sea-pig').
5 Which again Fournet unjustifiedly relates to IE *seH2l-.