Re: [tied] Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution finally? :P
- Dear Glen,I wouldn't like to reply in haste, so please give me some time to think it over. Just two brief comments:Etruscan Vanth, as you surely know, is not a Chief or God of War but a winged female demon of death, portrayed with a large burning torch. She is not an obvious semantic match for Hellenic *wanakt- "ruler".It is not quite certain that *wanakt- is isolated within IE. Tocharian has (B) ñakte, (A) ñkät, Gen. ñäktes 'deity', sometimes regarded as connected with *wanakt-, as Mark Odegard once pointed out on this list. On that occasion, I criticised attempts to establish a phonotactically monstrous root noun meaning "king", but I would not say "no" to a partly obscured compound. Rather speculative IE etymologies have been suggested for *wanakt-, but maybe you'd like to include the Tocharian word in your chain-of-borrowing scenario.More later,Piotr----- Original Message -----From: Glen GordonSent: Sunday, June 03, 2001 5:38 AMSubject: [tied] Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution finally? :P
I searched the archives of the list to make sure that this wasn't
mentioned before at great length and I couldn't find anything,
so here goes...
I can't help but notice that Greek /wanax/ and /basileus/ "chief"
are without any secure etymology. For a person obsessed with
deduction and extrapolation, I wanna take a crack at it and see
if we can't come to an appealing solution for everyone.
I recently was given a message from another, avidly interested in
comparative linguistics who had came across my new page on Hattic.
We shall call this person "Ned". I was glad that my site evoked
some great questions within him. This was one of his ideas,
which I consider thought-provoking:
"Is it possible the Homeric Greek 'wanax', king, could be
derived from Hattic 'wurun-katti', used not as the proper
name of the war god, but as a literal meaning of 'ruler
of the realm' (and if not from wurun-katti,
wurun-<some other suffix>?"
At first glance, it's easy to dismiss such a suggestion since
it is clear to anyone with enough understanding of
historical linguistics that Hattic and Mycenaean could not have directly
affected each other, nor could I see any likelihood that
Hattic could have possibly lent such important words to a
language so far away to the west within historical times. It
seems commonly accepted that /wanax/ and /basileus/ must be from
a native tongue and not one from something so afar as Hattic.
However, this perspective changes drastically if we consider the
possibility that the Hattic language is a prehistoric immigrant
from the west. This is in fact what I've just recently concluded
after, for the longest time, taking it for granted that Hattic is
related to the Nakh-Daghestinian (NEC) language instead of the
Abkhaz-Adhyghe (NWC) languages.
If we take Ned's suggestion further and add it to the hypothesis
that Hattic had migrated around the west side of the Black Sea,
through the Balkans, before arriving in its historically attested
location in Anatolia, we obtain a new interpretation of both
/wanax/ and /basileus/ that might prove profitable.
Here's what I'm suggesting and I welcome whatever criticism on
this idea one can find. Let's say Proto-Hattic is situated along
the Mediterranean coast line from Greece to the Balkans at about
the same time as the entry of the proposed Semitish language into
Europe starting c. 6500 BCE. This hypothetical language has a term
*kWati "chief" (Hattic /katti/ "king") which is used in compounds
like *wunun-kWati "king of the realm" (Hattic /wurun-katti/).
When the Tyrrhenians arrive on scene from 5500 to 5000 BCE, they
borrow some terms from Proto-Hattic. Thus, we have Tyrrhenian
**kWati "chief" or *kWati-lewe "chief of the people" (Note the
characteristic reverse ordering of the Tyrrhenian compound, an
IndoTyrrhenian phenomenon discussed at length in previous posts!)
and also we have Tyrrhenian *wenakti/*wenatti "chief; God of War" (Etruscan
Vanth). After that, the Hattic tongue is gradually
pushed into Anatolia by the growth of Tyrrhenian languages as I've
It is only after the spread of Indo-European that Hellenic
finally arrives in Greece, but by this time, surely any traces of
Hattic would be minimal to non-existent. Rather, Tyrrhenian and
Anatolian would have the greatest influences on Hellenic. Thus,
Hellenic borrows the Tyrrhenian terms *wenakti and *kWati-lewe
as *wanakt-s and *gWatileu-s. This is then inherited
into Mycenaean, written as [wa-na-ka] (wanax/wanakt-) and
[qa-si-re-u] (gwasileus) respectively.
PHattic Tyrrhenian Hellenic ----> Mycenaean
------- ---------- ------------------------
*kWati > *kWati-lewe *gWatileus [qasireu]
*wunun-kWati > *wenakti *wanakts [wanaka]
Hopefully I haven't frightened yous too much with my theorizing.
Please respond. I'm lonely <:(
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- --- In cybalist@y..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@i...> wrote:
> ... It is not quite certain that *wanakt- is isolated within IE.Tocharian has (B) ñakte, (A) ñkät, Gen. ñäktes 'deity', sometimes
regarded as connected with *wanakt-, as Mark Odegard once pointed out
on this list.
A correction: actually, Mark mentioned Tocharian A na:täk, pl.
na:cki 'lord', na:s'i 'lady', not the "god" word cited above (and
also worth considering). The EIEC reconstructs a tentative PIE *w(n)
natk- > Greek wanak(t)-.
- They (i.e., the editors of the EIEC) assume that PIE *wn- >
Toch *n- (which is hard to verify, the cluster in question
being anything but frequent) and that Greek reflects a
differently syllabified variant (*wnatk- ~ *wnnatk- like
*dje:us ~ *di(j)e:us). I absolutely agree that a word like
this is either a mangled compound or a loan, certainly not a
root noun. When we discussed it for the first time, I
mentioned Anttila's suggestion that *wanakt- < *wn-h2ag^-t-,
supposedly meaning 'folk-leader'. The problem with it is
that *wen- 'folk' (extracted from derivatives like
*wen-eto-) is otherwise unattested as a root noun; otherwise
I'd regard Anttila's attempt as promising. There are many IE
compounds involving the root *h2ag^-, and some of them have
to do with political or military leadership (e.g. the
well-know Myceanaean term <ra-wa-ke-ta>, later <la:gete:s> <
*lah2wo-h2ag^eto- 'leader of [armed] people'). But it
remains likely that *wanakt- is a loan, and a parallel
search for its foreign (probably non-IE) source is a
----- Original Message -----
From: "Glen Gordon" <glengordon01@...>
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2001 7:03 PM
Subject: [tied] Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution
> How is *w- attested in Tocharian? I see no *w- there.
> is this IE **wnatk- supposed to literally mean? I think
> 99.9% probable that if such a word existed in the IE
> it could never have been a very old term because of its
> (if not convoluted) form. So either it is a recent
> it is a foreign word. If it is truely a compound of native
> elements, what does it mean? Personally, I see no meaning
> just like I see no way of segmenting *septm into native
> (but then this is an obvious Semitoid loan). And yet
> come back to the only conclusion.
> Whether /wanax/ comes from IE or not is a lesser issue and
> changes the immediate source of the Hellenic term. It does
> change the likeliest ultimate source of the word - a
- Any possibility of link with Tamil: van.akkam = obeisance? Or is it
In Sanskrit (R.gveda) nakta means night. Later in Ya_jn~avalkya, it
means: eating only at night (as a sort of penance).
--- In cybalist@y..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@i...> wrote:
> --- In cybalist@y..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@i...> wrote:
> > ... It is not quite certain that *wanakt- is isolated within IE.
> Tocharian has (B) ñakte, (A) ñkät, Gen. ñäktes 'deity', sometimes
> regarded as connected with *wanakt-, as Mark Odegard once pointed
> on this list.
> A correction: actually, Mark mentioned Tocharian A na:täk, pl.
> na:cki 'lord', na:s'i 'lady', not the "god" word cited above (and
> also worth considering). The EIEC reconstructs a tentative PIE *w(n)
> natk- > Greek wanak(t)-.