Re: [tied] Re: Gimbutas.

From: Marc Verhaegen
Message: 2999
Date: 2000-08-07

Dear Piotr, thank you very much. I thought Glen & John might have found it interesting and I'd liked to hear their opinion. I agree with all your objections (many of which I had heard from you or others before or thought of myself), but it's the combination of the linguistic & archeol.evidence that fits with Gimbutas' theory, esp. Sherrat's maps in Cunliffe ed.1994 "Oxford ill.prehist.of Europe" OUP of how the beakers dispersed over Europe. The dispersal of the beakers out of Ukraine over Europe was the most obvious "movement" in European archeology. Cavalli-Sforza says a gradient with its centre in Ukraine was the 3d most important gradient in European gene distributions (the most important has its centre in the middle East, the 2d in Lapland, the 4th in Greece, the 5th in Biskaya). If the western branch of PIE (Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Celto-Italic) is linguistically a unity (with the Slavic languages later still in contact with Ukraine), most of C-S's 3d gradient & of the dispersal of IE languages over Europa might coincide with the beaker cultures, although I know this is not your favorite idea. Some comments below.
Thanks again --Marc
Dear Marc,
We have discussed before the possibility of connecting the Gmc. noun *tawa- meaning 'rope, fibres for rope-making' and the verb *tau-j- meaning 'do, make, finish' (at least in Gothic, cf. also Goth. taui [strong n.] 'deed, work'). While this connection may be real (as you managed to convince me despite my initial scepticism), the conclusions you draw from it seem far-fetched.
(1) The Gallehus Horn inscription (ekhlewagastiR:holtijaR:horna:tawido) is usually translated 'I, Hlewagastiz of Holt, made this horn'. You translate tawido as 'decorated' -- the primary meaning of the verb in Modern Dutch but not in the older Germanic languages.
Is that so? All I know is that Goth."tawjan" has been translated by "to make/finish". "To decorate" is the only meaning of "tooien". And Hlewagastiz did not "make" the horn, but he decorated (tooide) & finished it (voltooide).
 For 'cord' to equal 'decorate' you'd have to prove that the Dutch meaning is older than the Gothic one.
Not illogical IMO, since "to make" is vaguer than "to decorate", and "to make" is not be the only Gothic meaning?
Alternative semantic developments are not difficult to imagine, e.g. 'scutched fibres, tow' --> 'make (a surface) smooth by rubbing it with tow' (attested in older English!) > 'put the finishing touches to (sth)' > 'make'/'adorn'.
Good objection, but isn't a verb with "-i-" more likely older than one without? The Dutch verb is "tooien". I could image a verb "touwen" (present derivation), but it would not have the meanings of decorating (tooien) & finishing (voltooien). Verb derivation from nouns with "-i-" is PIE, isn't it? also Germanic (weak verbs)? still later?
(2) There may be a link between "cord" and "decorate" in Germanic, but what about the rest of IE? The hypothetical pre-Gmc. **dowo- for 'cord' is not supported by extra-Germanic evidence. Nor can I think of any non-Germanic IE language in which the words for 'cord' and 'embellish' are derived from the same root.
It's not necessary that the meaning "embellish" is derivated from it in other IE langauges. This shift could have happened as long as beakers were made, perhaps rather late, when the derivation "touw>tooien" was no longer obvious? The connection with a cord got lost when cords were no longer used in the production of beakers. Sherrat says bell beakers evolved from corded beakers in the Rhine delta, so it's not likely that the shift cord>decoration would be found in Celto-Italic. Corded beakers are mostly found where now Balto-Slavic languages are spoken.
Since we are dealing here with an inner Germanic etymology, not with a common IE one, how can it tell us anything about "the PIE lifestyle"?
Yes, of course, it's only the combination of linguistic & that could tell us something about this particular subject, but I was talking about transitions of meanings "like" this, eg, domus=timber.
(3) Cord-ornamented pottery occurred in many cultures, e.g. in TRB, Tripolye and Comb Ceramic (the last often attributed to early Baltic Finnic speakers), not to mention the very earliest pottery from Japan and NE Asia. The name "Corded Ware" is a conventional designation that refers to a characteristic and frequently occurring ornamental motif. The cord impression is an important classificatory feature from the point of view of modern archaeologists, but we have no means of knowing what significance the makers and the owners of the pottery attached to it. It was not their only method of decorating clay vessels and the claim that they naturally associated cord with decoration sounds a bit presumptive.
This association is not necessary in the beginning: the original meaning was not generally "to decorate", but "to cord". Since decorating the pot (tooien) & was the last thing to be done before finishing it (voltooien), the derived meanings are the most logical of all explanations I can think of now.
Archaeologists like pottery since it preserves well and has readily recognisable styles. However, excessive reliance on pottery types as cultural indexes turns people into pottery fetishists. A characteristic symptom is calling innocent prehistoric Europeans silly names like "Beakers".    Piotr
Marc writes:
In some instances, archeology & linguistics fall well together.
Archeologically the beaker cultures spread west from Ukrain to the Rhine
delta (Corded ware 3000-2800 BC), then north to Brittain & south to the
Rhone delta (Bell beakers 2800-2500 BC), Iberia & Italy. Now, Dutch "touw" &
"tooi" have the same etymology, but a very different meaning: touw=cord,
tooi=ornament, tooien=embellish, voltooien=finish, Gothic taujan=finish,
runic "ek horna tawido" = "I decorated this horn" = Dutch "ik tooide [deze]
hoorn". Probably the verb was derived from the noun, to denote the
cording/decorating/finishing of the beakers, later the connection with a
cord got lost (runic). IOW, the beaker cultures seem to have spoken IE
languages: perhaps Balto-Slavic (Ukrain, N-Eur.plains?), Germanic
(S-Scandinavia) & Italo-Celtic (mid+W-Europe+Italy)? (or some of these, but
including Germanic; the Balto-Slavic RUKI rule could perhaps be explained by
continuing contact with the homeland). IMO it's difficult to find better
explanations for cord=decorate, and it confirms Gimbutas' ideas of the
Ukrainian homeland ca.3000BC. Transitions of meanings like this (eg, Latin
"domus" = English "timber" suggest houses were made of wood) could be
important for reconstructing the PIE lifestyle.