Odp: [tied] Thanatos and Vanth

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7607
Date: 2001-06-13

----- Original Message -----
From: Glen Gordon <glengordon01@...>
To: <cybalist@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 6:47 AM
Subject: [tied] Thanatos and Vanth

> Yes, indeed. How might we constrain the imagination, so that it
> does not produce mirages like *gWmti- in /basileus/ :) I'm sure
> you realise that I could turn your words against you and ask
> _you_ where the evidence of your interpretation is.
> There isn't an issue with the first half *gWmti-, nor with the
> second half since they both are found in other IE languages as
> you say, however you are still exercising much freedom too.

I my evidence were better I'd be busy writing an article about it. It goes
without saying that things discussed on an informal forum like Cybalist are
often insufficiently documented, tentative guesses. Still, elementary
critical standards should be observed if we are to learn anything from these
discussions (which is the whole point, isn't it?). Of course I don't mind if
my own proposals are evaluated according to the same criteria and rejected
if they deserve it :)

> We don't see this particular compound outside of Hellenic and
> syllabic *m isn't really attested but rather implied from -a-.
> Any underlying IE form could just as well have a syllabic *n,
> *a or *x (*H2).

Not "just as well", since only *gWm-ti is actually attested in a few
different branches (Indo-Iranian and Baltic between them rule out the rest)

> >[...] one would expect >anything like *Tvante, *Thvante
> >or *Tvanthe for Thw√°natos (with
> >the etymological digamma still there!).
> Or even *Pvante, *Phvance, *Catha or *Niphu, perhaps. Uh-hmm...
> shouldn't you be heeding your words above. I still don't see any
> initial dental of any kind in the name Vanth, nor could it be
> accomplished by any process I know of in Etruscan or pre-Etruscan
> but I suppose the following fix is supposed to explain that...

I actually predict that Greek thwanatos (the digamma lived long in the
non-Attic/Ionic dialects) would have become Etruscan *TvanTe where either T
= orthographic <t> or <th> -- no less, no more. It is a well-constrained
down-to-earth prediction, based on what is known about the structure of
Greek loans in Etruscan.

> Something tells me that /thui/ or /thuves/ might be relevant.
> I presume you are speaking of a reconstructable pre-Etruscan.
> If there was any such constraint in pre-Etruscan, one should
> still expect *Tuvanth or even *Tanth, if labial phonemes truely
> made early Etruscan ears bleed so much. There is still no process
> aside from mythical analogy that could have caused an abnormal
> loss of *t-, nor is there another case of such a phenomenon
> (or is there?). Second of all, is Vanth even spelled any other
> way such as *Vanath, *Vanathe, or the like? While you are
> (as I am) positing a missing second *a and final vowel
> without direct evidence, the missing *t really throws this all
> over the edge.

The loss of *t- is not arbitrary or abnormal if Etruscan did not allow
initial tv-. Stops are quite commonly lost before sonorants by way of
cluster simplification -- English kn-, gn- > n-, Latin *dj- > j- (as in
Iovis, Iuppiter).

> In all, I think this means that your *Tvanth is just as weak and
> unsubstantiable as my Tyrrhenian *wenakte and that you are
> committing all the evil sins that I am :P Gives a whole new
> meaning to Devil's Advocate.

"Weak", yes; but not "just as weak". I agree that it is vulnerable on the
formal side, but at least I compare like with like -- Thanatos and Vanth,
two deities with identical functions and attributes, and my argument does
not require a series of conjectural semantic shifts.