the arboreal system of a prehistoric people

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Proto-Indo-European Trees: The Arboreal System of a Prehistoric People



    Proto-Indo-European Trees

    The Arboreal System of a Prehistoric People

    The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London

  • international Standard Book Number: 296-26480-7 Library oj Congress Catalog Card Number: 70-10.6331

    The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London

    @ 1970 b y The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 1970

    Printed in the United States of America

  • To the scholars, past and present, who have contributed to the understanding of the problems with which this book is concerned

  • Contents

    List of Illustrations List of Tables Preface

    1 Methods and Concepts 2 Botanical Ordering 3 Eighteen Arboreal Units

    1. The Birch: *bherH-6-0- 2. The Conifem: *pytw-, *py/wK- (*pwb-, *pyk-) 3. The Junipers and Cedars: *el-w-n- 4. PopuEus : *osp- 5. The Willows: *_s/wVlyk-, *wyt- 6. The A plea: *dbV1-, *maHZo- 7. The a lea: *Iden-, *akVrno- (*kL-n-7) 8. The d$ A1 er: *alpso- 9. The Hazel : *kos(V)lo-

    10. The Nut tree)^: *knw-, *ar- 11. The Eims: *Vlmo-, *w& 12. The Linden : *lenTd-, *ZZipci-, llwyf (7) 13. The Ash : *os- 14. The Hornbeam: *grabh- 15. The Beech: *bh@jo- 16. The Cherry : *K(~ )T -n - ,(?) 17. The Yews: *eywo-, *tVkso- 18. The Oaks

    Botany The Acorn: * WelH- The First Oa Name: *ayg- The Second Oak Name: *perEw- *dorw-: "tree" (or "oak?")

    19. Miscellanica Arborea

    I. Radical Come ts P 2. Cultural Conc usiona Bibliography

  • Illustrations

    MAPS 1. Betula in the Middle Holocene 2. Betula in the Late Holocene 3. Abies in the Middle Holocene 4. Picea in the Middle Holocene 5. Pinus in the Middle Holocene 6. Abies in the Late Holocene 7. Picea in the Late Holocene 8. Pinus in the Late Holocene 9. Alnus in the Late Holocene

    10. Ulmus in the Middle Holocene 11. Ulrnus in the Late Holocene 12. Tilia in the Middle Holocene 13. Tilia in the Late Holocene 14. Carpinus, Contemporary Distribution 15. Carpinus in the First Half of the Middle Holocene 16. Fagus, Contemporary Distribution 17. Fagus in the Late Holocene 18. Quercus robur in the Middle Holocene 19. Quercus robur in the Late Holocene

    CHARTS 1. Proposed Cognates for *el-w-n- 2. Proposed Cognates for the Apple Terms 3. Ritual Associations 4. The Weak and Strong Sets

  • Tables

    1. Geological Periods 2. Synoptic Veiw of Important Cognates in the Twelve Stocks 3. The Bright Birch 4. The Weaker Names 5. The Stronger Names 6. Some Slavic Cognates 7. Some Germanic Cognates 8. Dyadic Cohesions

  • Preface

    This monograph, an outgrowth of my working paper a t the Third International Conference of Indo-Europeanists, is the first major study of the arboreal system of the Proto-Indo- Europeans (PIE) since that of Hoops in 1905.

    I have sought to test two hypotheses-one taxonomic and the other methodological. The taxonomic hypothesis is that the PIE speakers differentiated at least eighteen major categories of trees ("arboreal units") by the application of between twenty and thirty tree names. My methodological hypothesis is that the rich scholarship on tree names within Indo-Europeanist phi- lology can be significantly correlated with the results of paleo- botanical analysis to yield a more realistic and interesting in- ference of the PIE arboreal system.

    The monograph falls into four chapters. In the first are stated certain essential questions and assumptions of method and conceptualization, particularly as regards the so-called con- junctive approach and the use of the comparative method in semantic reconstruction (the subtopics are "over- and under- differentiation," "denotation and connotation," and the "proto- morpheme"). The second chapter contains a brief discussion of the biological concept of succession, and of the inferred succes- sion of trees of central and eastern Europe from the Pre- to the Subboreal; particular attention is given to the cruciaI new palynological evidence from the Atlantic period (about 5500 to 3000 B.c.), the last part of which corresponds roughly to the last millennium of PIE unity. In the third chapter, I analyze in some detail the philological evidence on eighteen categories of trees (and thirty tree names) : birch, conifers, juniper-cedar, aspen-poplar, willow, apple, maple, alder, hazel, nut tree, elm, linden, ash, hornbeam, beech, cherry, yew, and oak. For each, the results of a primary concern with comparative linguistics have been related to the evidence of botany and paleobotany.

    My final chapter summarizes what appear to be the positive results of the historical-comparative test of the two basic hy- potheses. The inferred arboreal inventory is stated in detail and

  • discussed in relation to the question of tree names as semantic primitives. The second set of conclusions in this final chapter is a by-product of my original goal, and consists of broader cultural and linguistic points: the uses and functions of the trees in PIE culture and the significance of the preceding analysis for relating the early speech communities to each other and to their natural habitats. Several patterns have emerged here, including: a high number of shifts in denotation between PIE and Greek and a high number of semantic innovations shared by Greek and Albanian; a high attrition of the posited PIE arboreal terms in six relatively peripheral stocks-Indic, Iranian, Albanian, Armenian, Anatolian, and Tocharian; the cohesion between the three western stocks and between the four stocks which seem to be basic in terms of the arboreal question-Italic, Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic; and the relatively close relation of the Slavic and Germanic stocks to the system posited for PIE. Aside from their semantic interest, such specific conclusions bear directly on fundamental questions of early Indo-European dialects and migrations, and on the value of lexical semantics as a potential source for dialectal groupings through the comparative method.

    The monograph draws on several kinds of authoritative work. The ecological theory was summarized from standard texts such as Woodbury. For the paleobotany I relied primarily on three works: Firbas's Waldgeschichte for the region north of the Alps, and the monographs by Frenzel and Nejshtadt for the prehistory of the USSR. The descriptive botany was garnered from many handbooks and from the entries in three encyclo- pedias : The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Der grosse Brockhaus, and above all, the Bol'shaja Sovetskaja. The archaeological informa- tion comes mainly from recent syntheses by Marija Gimbutas.

    For the philological side, certain etymological dictionaries proved excellent, and I usually accepted the author's judgment on the phonological and grammatical relations of his language and stock to the ancestor language-although a t times I had to reinterpret or correct his semantic or botanical statements about trees. My authorities on the languages and stocks have been: Mayrhofer on Sanskrit, J. Friedrich on Hittite, Vasmer on Russian, Fraenkel on Lithuanian, Frisk on Greek, Pokorny on Celtic (as contained in his general Indo-European dictionary) and on Germanic, Kluge for German, and de Vries for Old Norse. Bartholomae was ideal for Old Iranian, and Morgenstierne has recorded valuable information on the contemporary Iranian dialects. Latin, although one of the most crucial sources of evi- dence, constituted a problem: Walde and Hofmann sometimes include improbabilities without a caveat, whereas Meillet, in Ernout-Meillet, is incomplete, although what he does cite is usually beyond dispute. I have been hampered by the absence of adequate etymological dictionaries for Tocharian (which, granted, has little arboreal data), for Albanian (although Meyer

  • and Tagliavini are helpful), and for Armenian (although Hiibschmann and Solta are usually satisfactory). In these and similar instances, I have simply had to use my judgment and the assistance of colleagues. Of the numerous articles, notes, and chapters on tree questions, those by Hoops, Osthoff, Meillet, Thieme, Benveniste, and V. V. Ivanov were particularly stimu- lating.

    Numerous scholars have contributed in various ways to this research. I am indebted to Harold Gall, Stuart Struever, Homer Thomas, and Floyd Zwinkfor their helpful suggestions, and above all to Karl Butzer and Burkhardt Frenzel for their informed reading of the botanical portions of the manuscript. For critical assistance on specific philological questions I wish to thank Hans Giiterbock (Hittite) and Manfred Mayrhofer (Indic). Penetrat- ing and copious were the critiques by William Wyatt, Jr. (Greek and Latin), Maurits Van Loon (Greek and Anatolian), Ben Howe (Slavic), Alfred Senn (Baltic), Henry Hoenigswald (Greek, Germanic, and Sanskrit), and Eric Hamp (particularly Albanian and Celtic, but also general points, and some biblio- graphical gems). A discussion with Jerzy Kurylowicz was most encouraging at a crucial point in the conceptualization. Addi- tional help was provided by other scholars, many of whom are acknowledged in the text: Warren Cowgill, Zbigniew Golab, Winfred Lehmann, George Metcalf, Jaan Puhvel, James Red- field, Thomas Sebeok, Nancy Spencer, and Antonio Tovar.

    This work, finally, reflects a deep intellectual debt to Henry Hoenigswald and Murray Emeneau for their respective courses on Indo-European; to Robbins Burling, Ward H. Goodenough, Harold Conklin, and Floyd Lounsbury for their ideas on the semantics of paradigms and taxonomies; and to the archaeo- logical anthropologist, Lewis Binford, for his often inspired thoughts on how to relate ecological factors to inferences about prehistory. I am indebted to Robbins Burling for a trenchant critique of an earlier version of chapter 1. Margaret Hardin Friedrich read the


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