Re: [tied] Root of "marten," "sable"

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 37895
Date: 2005-05-17

Piotr Gasiorowski wrote:

> No. The Slavic word is actually *s^elmU, presupposing earlier *xelma-
> (Common Slavic *x occurred only before back vowels, *s^ before front
> ones). It's evidently a loan from Germanic, presumably from an early
> variety of East Germanic (a dialect with *e, different from Wulfilan
> Visigothic /i/ in <hilms>). Lith. s^álmas could in principle be a
> related but independent form based on the same root, as neither strict
> cognacy nor borrowing from Slavic seem to account for its vocalism.

Arrrgh! Who wrote that? Me?! I just can't believe my eyes. I must have
been tired to the point of forgetting facts from the history of my own
language. In the Slavic dialect ancestral to Polish *e was retracted
when preceded by *s^, *c^ or *z^ (a "shibilant" obstruent) and followed
by *l plus a consonant, i.e. *C^elC > *C^olC. The word <szl/om> 'helmet'
(now archaic) is actually a "Musterbeispiel" of the change, alongside
*z^elbU > z.l/ób 'manger' and *c^elnU > czl/on 'segment, part'. That is
to say, the development of Germanic *xelmaz from Proto-Slavic to Polish
was as follows:

*xelma- > *s^elmU (palatalisation) > *s^olmU (retraction) > *s^lomU
(metathesis) > szl/om

So if you ask me today, the Lithuanian 'helmet' word is a loan,
demonstrating, by the way, the existence of very early (pre-metathesis)
contacts between the (specifically) pre-Polish part of the Common
Slavic continuum and East Baltic.