Re: [tied] wanax: vN-h2eg'-t- ?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7506
Date: 2001-06-08

----- Original Message -----
From: Glen Gordon
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 7:37 AM
Subject: [tied] wanax: vN-h2eg'-t- ?

>> [Dieter:] I find it very credible to suggest an indoeuropean origin of the word, especially because it appears to be a sacral parallel to the worldly lawagetas *lah2wo-h2ag'-

> [Glen:] Yes, it does _appear_ that way, doesn't it. However, you are being misleading because the form is *laxwo-xag^eto- to be exact. You may notice that it ends in *-to-. However, first of all, we do not find a parallel **wn-xag^eto- and the latter stem clearly must end in *-k(^)t- to explain /wanax/ (that is, without any trace of a thematic vowel as in the first example). Second of all, the etymology as you perceive it doesn't make much sense. Do you truely believe that *wn-xag^-t-s, if we are to ignore possible grammatical problems here for a moment, is to literally mean "desire leader"? And perhaps I'm ignorant here but can we validly coax a meaning of "provide" out of *xag^-? Lastly, even if we use "provide" as a proper translation, how does "desire provider" make any more sense?? How do we get "goods" out of *wen-?? Etc, etc, etc.

> At least with the above *laxwo-xag^etos, the literal meaning is clear and well matched with the actual definition of the word. Your etymology of /wanax/ seems rather far-fetched and strongly problematic. A wanax was not a "merchant" and it was not a "desire leader".

>> [Dieter:] Hajnal compares vedic 'vaNij' that already in RV ordinarily means 'merchant' ('one who makes profit') [...]

> [Glen:] Interesting. It reminds me of another word /asrj/ meaning "blood". It's clear however that the IE word was *esxr without termination. The -j suffix is an idiosyncratic part of Sanskrit word formation. I suspect that we must strip away the -j suffix here as well to arrive at the correct IE etymology, leaving us with little more than a verb root *wen-. I don't see how one can convincingly justify /vani-j/ as truely cognate with /wanax/. (And you still have the problem of semantics and the theoretical IE non-thematic stem to worry about because afaik *-xag^-t-s would refer more to the action rather than the agent. That would make it "leading" and not "leader", no?)
Glen's objections are fully justified. One could dispute a few individual points but it's generally clear that there are grave morphological and semantic problems concerning *wn-h2ag^t-. To be sure, the root *h2ag^- is polysemic and very flexible as a derivational base. Agent nouns can be derived from it in more than one way, even in Greek alone (akto:r, agos < *h2ag^-to:r, *h2ag-o-s; BTW, as I have explained by way of self-correction, the final suffix in <la:gete:s> is agentive *-tah2-, not *-to-). However, neither *h2ag^-t-s nor any similar agent noun happens to be attested, and since an athematic *wen-/*won- (necessary to justify the composition form *wn-) is purely conjectural, *wn-h2ag^t- is doubly problematic. At the moment I can't think of a plausible IE etymology to replace it.

> [Glen:] At least, my, and Ned's by default, Proto-Hattic *wunun-kWati (later Hattic wurun-katti) via Tyrrhenian *wenakte (also the name of a deity of war, and then death by association > *Wenatte > Etruscan Vanth) means exactly as one would expect for a wanax and it helps to explain /basileus/ at the same time (EtruscoLemnian *GWate "Lord (Sun)" > Etruscan Catha, *gWate-lewe "lord of thepeople").
Here, Glen, _you_ are spinning a yarn. Have you ever seen a representation of Vanth, the demoness of destiny and death? Apart from external sexual characteristics, she's a copy of Thanatos, complete with the torch, and has no attributes suggesting any kind of association with warfare (or leadership, for that matter). No weapons whatsoever, not even a scythe. Consequently, the reconstruction of Tyrrhenian *wenakte is groundless. While I'm ready to discuss an Anatolian or Hattic source of <wanaks> as a serious possibility, this Tyrrhenian connection looks completely gratuitous to me.