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

From: Miguel Carrasquer
Message: 16739
Date: 2002-11-13

On Wed, 13 Nov 2002 16:48:04 +0100, Piotr Gasiorowski
<piotr.gasiorowski@...> wrote:

>----- 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.

As I have argued before, the Iberian peninsula was in Antiquity a main
source of metals in general and lead in particular. The two pre- or
para-Celtic (Indo-European in any case) words for "lead", *plowdhom
(*plowdhia:) and *bli:wom (or *bli:wa:) [the latter only attested in
Germanic, but borrowed from Celtic if from PIE *bhle:w-] would in
Iberian (whose phonotactics are known to be like those of Basque) have
given *bolobdo (no /p/, no initial clusters, no /w/) and *bilibo (no
initial clusters, no /w/). Not surprisingly the two got mixed up in
Iberia into something like *bolib(d)o or *bolub(d)o, from which the
Greeks got their word, attested as <molubdos> ~ <bolubdos> (Att.) ~
<molibos> (Hom.) ~ <bolimos> (Epid.) ~ *<bolibos> (Rhod.). A form
*belumbo (from the same source, or from Latin?) could well be
ancestral to Basque <berun> "lead" (if from Latin, it would have to be
a very early borrowing, as in later loanwords pl- gives l-, e.g.
<pluma> "feather" > Bq. <luma>).

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal