30 October 2010

Iberian anthroponyms

Even before complete decipherment of the Iberian scripts was achieved by Gómez Moreno in 1922, the structure of the Iberian anthroponyms had been known since the finding of the Ascoli's Bronze Plate near Rome in 1908. This is a list of Iberian soldiers which formed the Turma Salluitana (an auxiliary horse troop which fought to the side of Pompeius Strabo in the Allies' War) and to whom Roman citizenship was granted. The names appear in the form of praenomen (first name) and cognomen (last name): X son of Y.

Although this inscription allowed epigraphists to identify personal names in Iberian texts as soon as they could been read, it's far from being an equivalent of the Rossetta stone1. Most Iberian anthroponyms are compounds of two members, either two nouns or a noun and an adjective. This structure is similar to the one of Celtic or Germanic anthroponymy, whose speakers were also warfare aristocracies of the Iron Age2.

Examples of Iberian anthroponyms:
Baise-bilos, Bilos-baiser 'Solitary Eagle'
Balke-bilos 'Eagle's Eye'
Bando-nius 'Chief's Horse'3
Biu-nius 'Chief's Mare'
Iskeŕ-adin, Adin-iskeŕ 'Old Hand'
Nios-iskeŕ, Iske-nius 'Chief's Hand'
Sakaŕ-iskeŕ 'Big Hand'
Sosin-adin 'Old Bull'
Sosin-bilos 'Bull-Eagle'4
Sosin-biuŕ 'Bull-Mare'

The apparent similarity of Iberian anthroponym elements with Basque words has fueled countless amateurs to support the discredited Vasco-Iberist theory, which in its most extreme form equates Iberian with an ancestral form of Basque, so the modern language can be confidently used to translate Iberian  texts5. This approach is absolutely unscientific and rejected by serious specialists. The hard truth is that Basque alone is of little help to understand Iberian.

However, with the aid of external comparison and a patient research we have been able to open a breach on what it was an impenetrable wall for many. The first Iberian word whose etymology can be surely stablished is adin 'mature, old' (PNC *=VdʑV 'to grow'6 + participle suffix *-nV).

Iberian glossary
adin 'mature, old' ~ Basque adin 'age; judgement'
baiser 'solitary' (Aquitanian baese-)7 
balke 'eye' < PNC *ʡwilʡi 'eye'
bando 'horse'8 ~ Basque mando 'mule'9
biki 'cow' ~  Basque behi 'cow'10 
bilos 'eagle, bird of prey' ~ Latin mīluus 'kite'
bi-o-s 'heart' ~ Basque bi-ho-tz 'heart'11
bi-uŕ 'mare' ~ Basque be-hor 'mare'12 
is-keŕ 'hand'13 ~ Spanish garra 'claw'
niś 'girl'14 ~ Basque nes-ka 'girl' (Aquitanian nes-ka-to).
nios, nius 'chief'15                                                               
śani 'boy' ~ Basque sehi, sein 'boy, servant'16
sakaŕ 'big' ~ Basque zahar 'old' (formerly 'big')17
saldu 'horse' ~ Basque zaldi 'horse'18
sosin 'bull (Aquitanian soson) ~ Basque zezen 'bull'
tautin 'noble' ~  Aquitanian hauten 'noble', Basque hauta 'election, elite'19
1 Unfortunately, bilingual texts are very scanty and often incomplete due to breaking of the material support (ussualy stone).
2 This is a quite different picture from the one commonly found in schoolbooks, which present Iberians as peaceful traders.
3 Found in the Latinized form Mandonius.
4 Found in the Latinized form Sosimilos.
5 Good examples of Vasco-Iberist crackpots in Spanish literature are Juan Luis Román del Cerro and Jorge Alonso García.
6 The native Basque output of this root is hazi 'to grow; seed'.
A compund from *wa- 'this' < PNC *ʔu (˜ *hu) 'demonstrative pronoun (that)' and  *-idʑV 'self, oneself'.
8 Iberian ortography doesn't differentiate between /b/ and /m/.
9 Borrowed from Celtic *mandu 'young animal; horse', an Altaic Wanderwort.
10A West Europe substrate item *bekko < PNC *bHe:mtɬɬɨ (˜ -u,-i) 'deer, mountain goat'. 
11 PNC *jerk’wi 'heart'. 
12PNC *q’ɦweɫV:/*q’weɫɦV: 'large female domestic animal (cow, mare)'.
13 The first element is from *tsHə 'one'.
14 PNC *nusA (˜ -o-) 'daughter-in-law'.
15 PNC *nɨwts(w)A: 'prince, ruler; bride-groom'.
16 PNC *ts’ænʔV 'new'.
17 PNC *tʃǝqwV 'big'.
18 PIE *g(w)Ald- 'foal, young of an ass', with assibilation (palatalization) of the initial velar. 
19 Celtic *toutā 'people'.