Re: [tied] Re: The Brahman and the Brain

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16733
Date: 2002-11-13

----- Original Message -----
From: tgpedersen
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 12:25 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: The Brahman and the Brain

> What do you then think of Gk. molybes, Lat. plumbum, German Blei, Da.
bly "lead"? m-l- > Lat. pl-, Germ. bl-. Usually ascribed to a non-specified substrate language of the Mediterrenean. Or further east?

Or neither. Lat. plumbum cannot be separated form Celtic *loud-i-a:, as both can be derived from *pleu-dH-, probably representing *pleu- 'flow' with a common extension (fusibility being a characteristic feature of lead). The nasal in Latin must be younger than the change of *dH > (*ð >) b after *u, so we can assume *pleu-dH-o-m > *pleubom > *plu:bom > plumbom. The last stage involves spontaneous nasalisation -- an untidy thing to propose, but I see no better solution.

Celtic *loud-, with the tell-tale loss of *p-, was borrowed into Proto-Germanic as *laud-a- 'lead' (also 'plummet' or 'solder'), hence OE le:ad, MHG lo:t, etc.

German Blei (OHG blîo) and Danish bly (ON blý) don't belong to the "plumbum" set. They go back to *bli:wo: < *bHli:-wa:, which seems to have been a colour word, 'livid, bluish' (cf. Lith. blývas).

The Greek word is more obscure. The early forms are <molibos> and <molubdos>. If IE, it may be a derivative of *mlh2- or *mol(h2)-u- 'soft' (cf. Gk. malakos < *ml.h2-ko-). Compare Skt. mRdukRs.n.a:yasa- (= mRdu- + kRs.n.a-ayas-) 'lead' (literally 'soft iron'). Anyway, I can't see how it could be plausibly related to <plumbum>, with which it shares only the occurrence of ..m..l..b.. in the wrong order -- hardly a solid basis for an etymological equation.