Re: Words like Conch: is it PIE?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 9471
Date: 2001-09-14

A possible PIE derivation is from *k^onk- 'hang', an item we have
just discussed (without mentioning shells): *k^onk-h2-o-s 'bangle,
hanging ornament' > 'sea-shell, conch'. To be sure, its limited
geographical distribution is problematic; on the other hand, if it's
an eastern loanword, it must be a very old one, and the borrowing
trajectory remains to be explained (the Greek word, with its initial
k-, can't have been taken directly from Indo-Aryan).


--- In cybalist@..., naga_ganesan@... wrote:
> Conch & Gr. Konkhos, is it PIE?
> ------------------------------
> Conch
> Inflected forms: pl. conchs (kngks) or conch·es (knchz)
> 1. Any of various tropical marine gastropod mollusks, especially of
> the genera Strombus and Cassis, having large, often brightly
> spiral shells and edible flesh. 2. The shell of one of these
> gastropod mollusks, used as an ornament, in making cameos, or as a
> horn. 3. Anatomy See concha (sense 1).
> Middle English conche, from Old French, from Latin concha, mussel,
> from Greek konkh. [From American Heritage dictionary].
> -------------------
> Does the root for European words like Conch spread only
> from Greek? If true, is it possible that Greece got the word for
> Conch from India?
> India exported the spiral sacred chanks even in Mesopotamian times.
> In Dravidian culture and literature, conch shells are used as
> trumpet horns, as well as bangles. (Ref. 2000 years old Sangam
> texts). Conches are blown at weddings and funerals to ward off
> evil spirits etc., There was an important tamil caste who
> were known as kIran 'shell cutters'. Among Telugus and Kannadigas
> a major caste is Balijas (cognate with tamil vaLaiyar, 'bangle
> folk').
> Words for Shells in Tamil and Sanskrit
> --------------------------------------
> 1) The root for english word 'Cowrie':
> --------------------------------------
> Tamil word is kOTu 'bent, horn, mountain top' etc.,
> T. Burrow derives Sanskrit kapaTa 'crooked, cunning'
> from dravidian kOTu. kOTu/kuvaTu > kavaTu > kapaTa.
> (kOTu/kuvaTu, compare URu/uvaRu 'spring water').
> In Tamil, kavaTi (pronounced as kavaDi) = cowry shell.
> -D- or -L- > -r- are common: kavaDi/kavari > (English) cowrie.
> Tamil kOTu, pronounced as kODu,
> with k- > c- cOLi/cONi/cO_li = cowrie
> Note that kOTu = 'conch'
> as in kOTTunURu = 'conch lime'.
> 2) vaLai 'bangle made of shells'
> --------------------------------
> The most important jewelry in sangam tamil texts
> is conch shell bangle, widows removed it upon
> the husband's death. It is vaLai in tamil, baLe
> in Kannada, and balija is a major caste of bangle
> producers. Like kOTu/kavaTi, vaLai also means 'to bend',
> 'curve' etc.
> 3) caGku 'conch' in Tamil
> --------------------------
> In classical Tamil, koGku = 'curve, bend, hill'. Mountanous
> region of Tamil Nadu state in India is called KoGku country
> in ancient literature, The Goa region is called KoGkANam
> in Aryan and Dravidian languages. South India and Ceylon
> are the native region for sacred chank shells, they grow
> upto 10-12 inches. In fact, Krishna blowing conch shell
> to signal the start of the Mahabharata epic war is enshrined
> in that pose in Tiru-alli-kEni temple in Madras. Poems
> describing Krishna, the conch blower, date back to at least
> Pallava period (15 centuries). In Tamil, caGku 'conch' < koGku.
> k-/c- alterations are common in Dravidian (eg., kivi (kannada),
> cevi (tamil) = 'ear'), so also is [C]o- > [C]a- (Eg., nontA > nantA
> in nontAviLakku, potini > pa_lani 'an important hill with a
> Skanda-Murukan temple', etc.)
> zaGkha = a shell , (esp.) the conch-shell (used for making libations
> of water or as an ornament for the arms or for the temples of an
> elephant ; a conch-shell perforated at one end is also used as a
> instrument or horn ; in the battles of epic poetry , each hero being
> represented as provided with a conch-shell which serves as his horn
> or trumpet and of ten has a name (Sanskrit Lexicon).
> In the Veda, zaGkha 'conch' is not attested in the earliest
> work (Rgveda), but only in the later Atharvaveda. Possibly,
> drav. koGku > skt. zaGkha. koGku as conch is found in tamil
> words like kokkarai 'shell'. (Cf. kokku(tamil)/koGka(telugu)
> and kaGka (sanskrit) 'heron'. dravidian etym. dictionary(DED)
> Also, refer Prof. M. Witzel, Substrates in old Indo-Aryan,
> Jl. of Vedic studies (EJVS), Harvard university, 1999 for
> non-IE k- to z- examples such as karkoTa/zarkoTa, kambu/zambu,
> kimIda/zimIda ...
> (Note 1).
> In Greek mythology, Triton, the merman sea monster, blows
> conch trumpets to calm down the stormy seas, or in the battle
> between gods and giants. Triton is closely associated with
> Perseus-Gorgon myth. A. David Napier's works 1) Greek Art
> and Greek Anthropology: Orienting the Perseus-Gorgon myth,
> p. 77-112, in Foreign Bodies, 1996 Univ. California press
> and 2) Ch.4: Perseus and the Gorgon Head; Ch.5 The Third Eye,
> in Masks, transformation and paradox (1986) delineate
> the influences from India & Iran in these Iron age Greek myths.
> Particularly with the Third eye of Shiva, The tilaka 'forehead
> mark' of Hindus, etc., are shown as part of the Orientalizing
> revolution. If so, is Conch-blowing by Triton in these myths
> also a part of Oriental influence?
> Is konkhos (Greek) a PIE word? If so, what are the cognates
> of it in other IE language families of Europe? Or is it
> a loan from India (koGku/caGku (tamil) > zaGkhu in sanskrit)?
> Compare also: oryza 'rice' (Greek) ultimately related with
> arici (tamil).
> Regards,
> N. Ganesan
> Regards,
> N. Ganesan
> Note 1:
> M. Witzel's words 1999, substrates in OIA:
> [Quote]
> This is the opportune moment to briefly discuss another
> northwestern peculiarity, the interchange of k/z in Vedic. This has
> occasionally been observed, even one hundred years ago in the case
> karkoTa/zarkoTa, but it has not been put into proper relief (Kuiper
> 1991: 41, 42, 44 as Proto-Munda, cf. KEWA III 309, Witzel 1999).
> interchange of k and z is not related at all to the well-known
> Indo-Ir. development of IE *k' > Ved. z, as the present variation
> occurs only in 'foreign' words.
> The name of the snake demon zarkoTa (AV) appears also as
> karkoTa(-ka) RVKh 2.14.8, and locally especially in Kashmir and
> Nepal; cf. Bur. hergin (Berger hargi'n) 'dragon' or rather gha'rqa
> (Berger gha'rqas: CDIAL 3418?) 'lizard', Skt. karkaTa 'crab',
> Mundari kaRkom etc. (Pinnow 1959: 341 $483d). The prefix zar-/kar-
> can be connected with [s@...] of the '300 foreign words' (Kuiper
> 1991: 40-1, 1948: 121), for example in sRbinda (Kuiper 1939 =
> 3 sqq.), ku-sur(u)-binda, bainda (Bind tribe), post-Vedic vindh-ya.
> Further materials include kambala/zambara 'blanket/name of
> demon', kabara/zabara, kIsta/zISTa 8.53.4 (with var. lect. zIST-,
> zIrST-, zIrSTr-, see above), kimIdin/zimidA- 'demon/a demoness',
> kambu/zambu 'shell' (Kuiper 1955: 182), cf. KU-zAmba, Kau-
zAmba 'name
> of a person', cf. ki-zora 'filly' AV, 'youth' CDIAL 3190 : zi-zu
> 'baby', zi(M)-zu-mAra 'Gangetic dolphin', zizUla 'dolphin' RV (EWA
> 641-2; Le'vy, in Bagchi 1929: 121 sqq.), kirAta/cilAda 'a mountain
> tribe', kiknasa 'ground grain' AB: cikkasa 'barley meal' lex.,
> Son ~ Ved. kANa 'blind' RV.
> [End Quote]