Pole

Two different items denote poles or beams

PIE *ĝhalgho
Gloss: ‘pole’ (item 22 in Bjørn 2017)

Attestations:
OHG galgo; Lith. žalgà; Arm. jałk.

Notes:
Despite formal problems with the second velar, the Armenian form surely belongs to the set (Martirosyan 2010: 429f.). Such a very limited distribution of the term is hardly conducive for a reconstruction dating to the earlier strata of PIE.

External comparanda:
Uralic: FU *śalka

Discussion:
It seems strange that Koivulehto prefers ascribing this word to PIE proper (2001: 238) rather than a dialectal continuant hereof, given the limited distribution within Uralic. Regional distribution of this term within IE likewise questions the claim of a truly ancient borrowing (cf. Kroonen 2013: 165). Phonetically, this word resembles *śata- ‘hundred’ which is traditionally considered a borrowing from early Indo-Iranian on account of the palatal treatment of the initial PIE palato-velar as well as the a-vocalism. Such an origin for this case is, obviously, unattractive without Indo-Iranian cognates, but the fact remains that there is no evidence suggesting great antiquity for the relation. A substrate word from an unknown source in Northern Europe could be defended in the same stratum as *kond-u- ‘hand’ (item 77), although the connection with Armenian then requires special attention. The great resemblance between Lithuanian and Fenno-Ugric thus makes a dialectal borrowing most likely.

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PIE *kŝeul-
Gloss: ‘beam, post, piece of wood’ (item 71 in Bjørn 2017)

Attestations:
Goth. sauls ‘column, post’; Lith. šùlas ‘post, jamb, doorpost’; Rus. šúla ‘garden post’; Gr. ξύλον, var. σύλον.

Notes:
Several aspects make the native status of this item highly questionable, including the atypical onset cluster, the very specific meaning in all attestations, and the distribution limited to a small handful of (nearly contiguous) European branches (cf. Beekes 2010: 1037f.).

External comparanda:
NE Caucasian: *č̣ɨwłu ‘beam’ > e.g. Chechen č̣erg ‘transversal ceiling crossbeam’

Discussion:
The phonetic shape of this reconstruction certainly seems to correspond with the reception in the IE languages, and the superimposable semantics bolster this scenario. Somewhat problematic is the geographic distance between the IE languages in Europe and the NE Caucasian family, but the fact that prehistoric migrational patterns, of people and, especially, words remain ephemeral, this cannot be elevated to a decisive counter-argument when, on linguistic evidence alone, the comparison is so attractive. Given the lack of internal explanation for the item in PIE, the item may well have emanated from NE Caucasian, as suggested by S. Starostin (2009: 97), or a language related hereto.

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bjorn

MA in Indo-European Studies (2017) from the University of Copenhagen. Graduated with the thesis "Foreign elements in the Proto-Indo-European Vocabulary" that forms the basis of my blog. Particular fields of interest are the formation and dissolution of PIE with reference to Uralic and Caucasian languages.

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