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RE: RE: RE: Is Basque IE?

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  • giaforni
    Reply to D. G. Kilday While my etymologies are based on Michelena and Trask s commonly accepted internal reconstruction of Pre-Basque, several of your
    Message 1 of 61 , Sep 5, 2013

      Reply to D. G. Kilday


      While my etymologies are based on Michelena and Trask's commonly accepted internal reconstruction of Pre-Basque, several of your criticisms are based on different, alternative reconstructions to Michelena's (namely, *mi instead of *ni for 'I', *ano instead of *a[h]o for 'mouth', *menti instead of *bendi for 'mountain', *arr instead of *ar 'male', *giza- instead of *gizon for 'man', *sut instead of *su for 'fire', *un- instead of *ur for 'water', *on instead of *bon for 'good'). As Octavià correctly pointed out in a parallel comment, such unorthodox reconstructions are unwarranted (unless you can point us to a publication of yours where such claims are substantiated by adequate proof, if any is available).


      So if we exclude the above mis-reconstructions, we are left with 14 criticisms (namely zu 'you', aitzin 'before', aita 'father', argi 'bright', *anets 'breath', barre 'laughter', bederatzi 'nine', bero 'hot', biga 'two', etorri 'come', ezur 'bone', sudur 'nose', txori 'bird', ama 'mother').


      For 3 of these (aitzin, aita, argi) the resemblance with Celtic is undeniable, so you simply dismiss them as loans. While I do agree that a few resemblances might be due to chance or loans, the cumulative amount of evidence provided by my article cannot be explained away as an unprecedented amount of loans for basic lexicon: see pages 306-307 of JIES #41 for a detailed statistical explanation and an empirical proof of this.


      One etymology (txori) is jokingly justified as "luck", which I assume is intended as a lucky hit, i.e. chance resemblance. Well, any *individual* etymology might be explained away as such; it's the *set* of etymologies based on regular sound correspondences that cannot; so this criticism is very weak.


      So, we're left with a mere 10 more-or-less grounded criticisms of my 209 etymologies (167 for basic lexicon + 42 additional ones in Annex 4): this amounts to less than 5%: hardly a substantial amount to justify the claim that you can "find no merit" in my theory.


      Anyway, let me take a closer look at some of these residual criticisms.


      For zu 'you', see page 281-282 of my reply to the critics in JIES #41, where I assume a conflation of singular *tu and plural *su-.


      For barre 'laughter' and bero 'hot' you criticize *sw > b: this sound law is in fact supported by 6 etymologies (barre, beltz, ber-, bero, -bil and mehe), and an identical phonetic outcome can be found e.g. in Old Irish tuath-bil 'left turn', where the second element comes from *swelo- (according to Matasović's "Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic", page 363). As for 'dubious semantics' for barre, it is exactly the same semantics as in Proto-Celtic *swar-yo- 'laugh' (Matasović, page 361). On the other hand, your own semantics for bero 'hot' < 'black' looks pretty suspicious to me.


      As for bederatzi 'nine', on pages 291-292 of JIES #41 I demoted it from "likely" to "tentative" etymology, exactly because it is still too speculative at this stage.


      As for the alleged semantic permissiveness in my etymologies (a criticisms that recurs in your comment), please see Annex 5 in my article, which shows that 91% of them are based on an identical or very close semantic match.


      Coming to your final sentence, "since you have obviously invested considerable time and personal reputation into this theory, I do not expect my criticism (or that of others) to have any effect":  it is not a matter of personality or pride: it is just that, based on the factual analysis above (compounded with Octavià's reply), I would say your comments do not appear to be strong enough to dismiss my theory. Lat's see what comes up in further messages on this topic, anyway.


      Gianfranco Forni






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      I do not recognize the advantage of restricting sources to such a small number of books.  Avoiding complexity means evading reality.  I have not seen the original paper or the critical responses, but only the excerpts from academia.edu labeled v01a and v01h.  I will try to keep my own criticism straightforward and brief.


      Excerpt v01a, p. 5:  Without consulting many more sources, how can you know that your six chosen sources provide 90% of the information you need?  No individual author is infallible.  Restricting yourself to few sources gives you bibliographic tunnel vision.


      P. 7:  In my opinion, the resemblance between Basque and IE personal pronouns is best explained by assuming that Basque is a Nostratic language, related to PIE but not derived from it, superposed on a Cantabro-Pyrenaean substrate having only one nasal phoneme.  This phoneme was usually reflected as *[n], but when two examples occurred in successive syllables, the first was dissimilated to *[m].  Hence the pronoun *mi 'I, me' (surviving as such in archaic Etruscan, but in PIE incorporated into the verbal system) became Proto-Vasconic *ni, but the noun *menti 'hill, mountain' retained *m...n because the C-P substrate allowed this sequence, and Basque has regularly _mendi_.  (Note the Tarraconian place-name Mentissa/Mentesa/Mentosa.  The Nostratic root is likely identical with PIE *men- 'to project' in Latin _mons_ etc.  Or the place-name is simply of IE origin and no long-range inference is valid here.)  Thus I disagree with Michelena and others about */m/ in Proto-Vasconic.  Michelena derives Bq. _mehe_ 'thin' from *mene, this in turn from *bene.  But other Bq. words like _behe_ 'bottom' and _behi_ 'cow' show no such development *ben- > *men-, so I think *men- was a permissible sequence.


      I consider Bq. _zu_ (originally plural, 'ye') to be cognate (through Nostratic) with PIE *tu(:) 'thou'.  As *-i marked singular personal pronouns, so *-u marked plural (and PIE *tu: can be explained by monosyllabic lengthening under the accent, without a laryngeal).  At an early stage of PIE (or even before PIE as such), the plural became used as a polite singular (like French _vous_), and eventually a new second-person plural came into use.  But this did not happen in Basque until historical times.  Your scenario is highly implausible because in it, only the branch of IE which became Basque (apparently centum, based on your claim about *k^) retained *tu as a plural until recently, while all others independently made it a singular quite long ago.


      P. 8:  I must agree that the etymologies by Gorrochategui and Lakarra given in the table are forced and unconvincing.  However, this does not mean that any alternative is necessarily preferable.  Some words simply cannot be plausibly analyzed on the basis of other words with the material which we have available.


      Excerpt v01h, pp. 20-32, etymologies by number:  1.  Bq. _aho_ 'mouth, face' probably continues ancient *ano (cf. _ahate_ 'duck' < Lat. acc. _anatem_, etc.), so it would go better with Lat. _a:nus_, and I will refrain from the obvious jokes.


      2.  Bq. _aitzin_ 'frontside; before', _aitzi_ (postp.) 'against', etc., probably are of Celtic origin as suggested in v01a, p. 13.


      3.  Bq. _aita_ 'father' could be another Celtic loan or an independent creation, depending on what you think of Jakobson's "mama-papa words".


      5.  Bq. _ar'_ 'male' (with r' denoting the hard rhotic in composition, thus _arra_ with the article), if it came from *anar, should have given *ahar in northern dialects (with soft -r).  If I compared _ar'_ with anything in IE, it would be the masculizing element in OHG _chataro_, NHG _Kater_ 'tomcat' (and a few other masc. animates), though I cannot say which direction this went.


      6.  Bq. _argi_ 'bright; light (n).' is almost certainly a Celtic loan.


      7.  The protoform *anets 'breath' should have given *ahets, not _hats_, in northern dialects.


      9.  Bq. _barre_ 'laughter'.  Apart from dubious semantics here, your very peculiar soundlaw *sw- > *b- is not well grounded, and your high frequency of alternative etymologies shows that the critics are right.  You have too many ways of allegedly deriving a word.


      10.  Your explanation of Bq. _bederatzi_ 'nine' involves ad-hoc voicing of -t- in _eta_ 'and'.  If this is from "allegro speech" or a similar arbitrary makeshift, why can you provide no other examples?


      13.  Bq. _bero_ 'hot; heat' < *belo (cf. _bele_ 'raven' < *belle(?), _beltz_ 'black', Aquit. pers. name Belexco, etc.), which you assign to PIE *swer-, does not provide convincing evidence of *sw-

      > *b-.


      15.  The by-form _biga_ 'two' could have been extracted from _bigarren_ 'second', where -ga- is part of the ordinal suffix.  Assigning it to a nt. pl., with the usual _bi_ as fem. pl., is purely arbitrary and does not provide convincing evidence of *dw- > *b- in Basque.


      I could go on with each entry, but it is getting late.  I note that most of your numbered soundlaws are actually sets of similar but independent soundlaws.  I counted 143 of these.  Combined with your arbitrary treatment of *h, metathesis, voicing, contraction, and the like, you have practically as many soundlaws as you have lexemes, i.e. 201, if not more.  Your semantics can be forced (e.g. #30 'twist' > 'turn' > 'turn back' > 'come back' > 'come') or downright implausible (e.g. #33 '(soft) internal organ' > '(hard) bone').  Serious oversights characterize the following:


      40.  Bq. _gizon_ 'man' has a combining form _giza-_ (e.g. _gizakote_ 'big hefty fellow', _gizarte_ 'society', _gizatzar'_ 'big man, giant, brute, cad') which you choose to ignore.  Very likely _gizon_ continues an ancient compound (represented by the pers. name Giso:n or Kiso:n in Greek letters) of the simplex _giza_ and _on_ 'good', hence 'good man, bonhomme'.  There is no principled way of deriving _on_ from Lat. _bonus_ or a Romance reflex of it.  Old Latin _dvenos_ shows that the Lat. vocalism is not primary, so your comment under #71 is unmotivated.  The alleged reduction *bo- > *o- is contradicted by _bost_, _bota_, _botz_, etc.


      77.  Bq. _su_ 'fire' was originally *sut as we see from _sutondo_ 'proximity to fire'.  The divinity Sutugius (CIL 13:164) was perhaps a god of the hearth.


      78.  It would be astonishing if any speakers replaced their simple noun for 'nose' with 'having smell inside'.  Moreover the alleged protoform *h1ens-h3odoros contains an *-s- not found (for example) in Grk. _énudros_ 'having water inside, holding water'.


      79.  Bq. _txori_, _xori_, diminutives of _zori_ 'fate, luck', orig. 'bird', if they resemble PIE *ster-, *stor- 'type of bird', simply got lucky.


      80.  Bq. _ur_ 'water' (with soft -r) has a combining form _un-_, an interesting and important fact which you choose to ignore.


      96.  Bq. _ama_ 'mother' (according to Trask the first Bq. word with /m/, so he must have had the ability to remember past lives, like Alice Cooper) can be derived from Vulgar Latin *amma, of P-Italic origin (cf. Oscan _Ammaí_ 'to the Mother'), if not simply a Jakobsonian creation.


      In sum, I find no merit in your theory.  You need to consult a much wider array of sources, stop ignoring details of word-formation, and incorporate material from place-names and personal names (which often yield ancient forms of lexemes unavailable otherwise).  Of course, since you have obviously invested considerable time and personal reputation into this theory, I do not expect my criticism (or that of others) to have any effect.


      Douglas G. Kilday



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       >> Access to the On-Line version is available only to viewers at institutions that subscribe to this service [...]

      >> Please [...] upload your article [...] to another place with free access
      Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions, I may not provide free access to my full article. However, I did upload excerpts of it in http://independent.academia.edu/GianfrancoForni.

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      Dear Gianfranco Forni,
      Jiesonline writes:
      Access to the On-Line version is available only to viewers at institutions that subscribe to this service, which covers Volume 34 and subsequent issues.
      Please be so kind and give the access to the files, or upload your article (and, if possible, also other articles on the same subject) to another place with free access.
      ----- Wiadomość oryginalna -----
      Wysłano: 29 sierpnia 2013 11:12
      Temat: [tied] Is Basque IE?


      I'm the author of "Evidence for Basque as an Indo-European Language", published in The Journal of Indo-European Studies - Volume 41 (http://www.jiesonline.com/issues/).

      If you read it, I'll be glad to receive your feedback via this topic.

      You can find more information about me, as well as my papers (or excerpts thereof) here: http://independent.academia.edu/GianfrancoForni.

      Thank you

      Gianfranco Forni

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    • oalexandre
      [Tavi] However, there re some reare cases of Basque /r/ arising from gemination of /R/, as in larre meadow; heath; uncultivated land, desert , a loanword from
      Message 61 of 61 , Oct 21 2:01 AM

        However, there're some reare cases of Basque /r/ arising from gemination of /R/, as in larre 'meadow; heath; uncultivated land, desert', a loanword from Celtic (Gaulish) *landa: 'heath, moor' > *lanna > larra > larre.
        That is, the shift /nn/ > /RR/ happened in Paleo-Basque.

        But _landa_ 'campo, pieza de terreno' occurs widely in Basque (Bisc., Guip., Aezc., Lab., High & Low Nav., Ronc.) and appears to continue Gaul. *landa: directly. 
        I think this is from a different Celtic word *landa: '(enclosed) field, plot of land', homonymous to Gaulish *landa: 'heath', Cornish lan, Breton lann 'heath, steppe', which would require a Celtic protoform *Flanda: (cfr. Gascon branda, brana 'heath'). Unfortunately, Celtic specialists conflated both.

        > Moreover a Late Gaul. *lanna would have given Bq. *lana, since Latin _anno:na_ gives Bq. _anoa_. 
        Actually, nn > n isn't a Paleo-Basque but a Vasco-Romance development shared by Gascon, where we find lana.
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