Re: [tied] The "Mother" Problem

From: Patrick Ryan
Message: 36062
Date: 2005-01-28

----- Original Message -----
From: Rob
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2005 6:11 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] The "Mother" Problem



I would like to propose as a way to understand these anomalies that we attempt to analyze the components of these compounds.
The first element I would propose to identify in the four words designating members of the nuclear family is *H2éH2{e}-ter, 'fire', itself a compound (a reduplication of **H2e-, '**bright' [cf. 4. *a:y-, 'burn'] + 3. *ter-, '*make' [cf. Gk. toreía, 'preparation of embossed work in stone or metal']).
This would, of course, yield *á:tr.-.
The camp-fire is an appropriate symbol for the nuclear family that gathered around it.
If combined with *bheH2r-, 'what protrudes, **male genital', we obtain *bhar- + *á:tr.-, which would give *bhrá:tr.-, 'male part of the family'. To connect it with 1. *bher- is rather too broad. What, pray tell, did the primeval son 'carry'?
I propose another gender designation underlies 'daughter' instead of connecting it with 'milking' through *dheugh-.
Though 'milking' is certainly a related concept, I propose the better identification of *dheugh- is 'pair of breasts', seen darkly in English 'dug'; and that the other meanings are denominal.
If combined with *dheugh-, 'pair of breasts', we obtain *dheugh- + *á:tr.-, which would give *dhughá:tr.-, '(pair of) breasts of the family'.
Compounds of this kind are rare in IE but Ind. prá-pada, 'tip of the foot', can be cited.
Explicit reference to distinguishing sexual characteristics is quite common in languages around the world to designate male and female.
By contrast, I propose that the designations for 'mother' and 'father' were functional rather than descriptive.
I suggest the basis for *ma:tér- is not 3. *ma:-, 'mother', but rather *am{m}a-, '**nurser' (*H2e-me-H2e-me, 'family-breast' {reduplicated}) through **am{ma:}-á:tr.-. Though I employ *H2 for the reconstruction of both 'bright(ness)' and 'family', I believe the former was phonetically /ha/ and the latter /?a/. Therefore, I question the reconstruction of *ma:tér-, and believe it is accented in Indian to pattern with [pitár] but that this accent is not original. It should be reconstructed as *má:tr.-.
Finally, we have 'father', the 'feeder'. Rather than connecting it with *pa:-, I would connect it with the derived root *p6-t- (*pH2-té-), which, when combined, gives us *pH2-t-á:tr.-. For euphony, this was simplified to  *pH2{t}-tér.
--- In, Piotr Gasiorowski <gpiotr@......>

 > I don't know of any such. But the existence of something like     
> *mama, *mamma, *ama or *amma for 'mom' is almost guaranteed by the
> general tendencies of baby-talk (not to mention the existence of  
> such items in historically known IE languages). For 'dad' we find 
> words of the same structure but with *t or *p instead of *m.

I cannot acknowledge any such guarantee. A quick look at the language outside of IE around the world will assure even the most casual student that every imaginable consonant has been pressed into service somewhere to express the idea of 'mother' and 'father'.