Re: [tied] Non-Indo-European Vocabulary in Greek?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 12390
Date: 2002-02-19

----- Original Message -----
From: tycho137
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 1:01 AM
Subject: [tied] Non-Indo-European Vocabulary in Greek?

> ... One pre-Hellenic language may be called the -nthos/-ssos language, manifest in a variety of place names in southern Greece and Crete and words like asaminthos (stone bath), terebinthos (a kind of tree), huakinthos (a kind of flower), olunthos (a kind of fig), plinthos (brick), minthe: (mint, the plant), kuparissos (cypress tree), narkissos (a kind of flower), etc.
It is disputable if all the obscure words is <-nth-> and <-ss->/<-tt-> can be lumped together as coming from the same language, though many are likely to be substratal. For some of these items a Middle Eastern source has been suggested (<kuparissos>/<-ittos>, Myc. ku-pa-ri-se-ya, cf. Akk. giparu; more speculatively <asaminthos> and <labyrinthos>). At any rate, those that show intervocalic <-s-> (<asaminthos>) must have been borrowed after the change *-s- > *-h- (> zero) within Greek. As <-ss->/<-tt-> may result from various Greek palatalisations (*-tj-, *-tw-, *-tHj-, *-kj-, *-kHj-, *-kWj-, *-kWHj-), there are in each case many possibilities worth exploring before we fall back on "substratal <-ss->".
> ... I note the similarity Atho:s ~ *Atha:na: (classical Athe:ne:); this could mean that that deity's name could originally have been "The Mistress of Mt. Athos".

> I recall doing some work some time ago trying to compare some Greek vocabulary to some of the forms listed in Diakonov and Starostin's Hurro-Urartian as a Northeast Caucasian Language and some of Starostin's work on reconstructing North Caucasian. One interesting bit was Greek selas (light) and sele:ne: (< *sela:na: -- Moon, literally, "shiner"); that book claimed that there were more such words to be found. ...
They are of diverse origin and can't be reduced to a single formative principle: <atHe:ne:> reflects earlier <atHa:naia:> (whatever its remoter history), whereas <sele:ne:> (<sela:na:>, <selanna:>) is a transparent derivative of <selas> via adjectival *selas-na:, the feminine of *selas-no- 'bright' (not an agent noun!, cf. <kleinos>/<kleennos> 'famous' from *klewes-no-). Several Greek pairs in -as/-e:no- (*-as-no-) have impeccable IE etymologies.