Re: [tied] People of the Rivers, the saga continues

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 5342
Date: 2001-01-06


It's a crazy mishmash of proposals this time. I wouldn't
mind it if several of the proposals were not untenable. In
the "semantics" part you don't mention the important
question why the Indo-Tyrrhenians should have called
themselves "People of the Rivers" (and the answer "Why not?"
would not be very satisfactory). But even if there were a
good reason for that, there are formal problems. Here are
the most serious ones:

(1) Where is IE *lewo- 'people' attested? If you mean Greek
leo:s, it's a late Attic version of common Greek la:wos (>
le:os [a: fronting] > leo:s [quantity metathesis]). PIE
*lah2wo-, on the other hand, won't do as the basis of

(2) In a typical endocentric compound the expected order of
components is head-final, i.e. *river-people rather than
*people-river (English preserves it, by the way). If you
want to suggest the reverse order for Indo-Tyrrhenian, you'd
better offer VERY solid arguments for it. I understand that
your Indo-Tyrrhenian was an inflecting language, so for
typological reasons it should have the same element-order as
PIE. *people-river would have sounded as odd in such a
language as it does in English.

(3) You propose original heteroclisy for the "river" word
*dah2nu- (which is itself pretty shaky, having firm-looking
cognates in two branches only) -- to wit, something like
**dex-r ~ **dxen- (this is indeed tantamount to suggesting
that the word was originally inanimate). Now in the process
of converting such a noun to the animate class the final -n
or -r was typically recycled as a consonantal-stem-forming
element. Can you offer a single corroborative example of
suffix-dropping for "aesthetic" reasons in heteroclitic

(4) What independent evidence do you have for **dexr- ~
**dx(e)n- 'river'?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Glen Gordon" <glengordon01@...>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2001 6:15 AM
Subject: [tied] People of the Rivers, the saga continues

> Boy oh boy, it's Critics' Night at the cybalist :) First
of all, I should
> have said IndoTyrrhenian *lewe-t:exan (not *lawe-) and IE
*lewos-dxn us. Mea
> culpa, I have to revise my website some more.
> Second, I should have gone into more detail. When I
mentioned an IE phrase
> *lewos-dxnus, I was just illustrating one possible
"phrasal" reflex of
> "People of the Rivers" as opposed to the fossilized word
*leudhos whose
> original components had been totally forgotten at this
stage by IE-speakers.
> This dual-path idea is attested elsewhere as with English
"goodbye" (< "God
> be wi' ye") surviving as a totally corrupted artifact
alongside its phrasal
> twin, "May God be with you".
> So, in the same vein, I envision two pathes of the one
IndoTyrrhenian phrase
> *lewe-t:exan. One is the ethnonymic concept or imagery
itself. We might
> replace the words in IE *lewos-dxn us with any other
synonyms we want but
> the meaning of this phrase itself should have survived
into IE alongside the
> corrupted *leudhos. The latter was formed along a second
path, also
> producing the regularly formed cognate Etruscan /lautn/
"family". Thus, the
> ancient phrase is squished into a single word for
convenience and effortless
> speech. No big whoop.
> Now to explain the IE phonetics which are somewhat
incredible, I know. The
> ethnonym would have survived as a phrase up to Late MidIE
(c.5500 and later)
> when the final vowels were dropped, producing *l(e)u-t:xr
(note *-n > *-r).
> At this point, the phrase was understood as a single word
*l(e)ut: xr with
> the regular stress accent on the second-to-last syllable.
> Since the word was used for a people, the word was of
animate gender but
> this conflicted with the apparent inanimate ending *-r,
which was the ending
> originally applied to the "river" word of the phrase. As
is typical of the
> Early Late IE period, many words were revised with new
grammatical tricks.
> So for aesthetics' sake the inanimate-looking, animate
ethnonym *l(e)ut:xr
> was given a more "animated" look by dropping the
heteroclitic termination,
> adding a thematic vowel and giving it an initial accent,
> *l ut:x-o-s (later *leudxos).
> Finally, quite irregularly I admit, as if my explanation
isn't undesirably
> irregular enough :), the term became *leudhos at a point
when the original
> meaning of the word was entirely lost and the possibility
of corruption with
> homophonic words was greatest. The American Heritage site
defines a verb
> *leudh- as "to mount, to grow" and I wonder whether this
is truely the root
> of *leudhos or whether this verb is the reason behind the
corruption. At any
> rate, the Germanic version *leudhax and the Lithuanian
i-stem must both
> derive from *leudhos.
> That's my latest theory anyway. I'm open to other ideas
and death threats.
> As for the phonetics on the Etruscan side, everything is
gloriously regular
> according to my current conclusions on Etruscan reflexes.
> *lewe-t:exan should become ProtoTyrrhenian *lewetten with
an automatic
> initial accent and loss of all mediofinal laryngeals. From
here, the
> Etruscan reflex of *e varies as either /e/ or /a/ (a
dialectal variation
> proven by /clen/ vs. /clan/ "son" which possibly derives
from Tyr
> *k:al-ene). IndoTyr *t: regularly becomes Etruscan
inaspirate /t/ while
> lenis stops *t and *d merge as aspirate /tH/. So we arrive
at Etruscan
> /lautn/ (probably for *lautan) in regular fashion.
> Now semantics. I think most of you realise the association
between "family"
> and "tribe" (ie: "extended family") and so I won't bore
you with the
> Etruscan definition. The meaning given for the IE reflex
is "tribe" and the
> jump from an ethnonym to the meaning of "tribe" (as in "my
tribe" or "tribes
> like us" as opposed to "foreign tribe") is an
insignificant step to
> overcome.
> Finally, in much the same way as "Anishinaabe" denotes not
only the Ojibway
> people but all other peoples speaking Algonquian languages
(known as
> Anishinaabemowin), I feel that the IndoTyrrhenian speaking
population as a
> whole, even thousands of years after their fracture into
seperate languages,
> tribes, cultures and mythologies, continued to use the
phrase "People of the
> Rivers" as well as the dialectal corrupted versions
(lautn/*leudhos) to
> designate each other based on their common linguistic
heritage that they
> themselves were fully aware of.
> - gLeN