PIE *spongh-
Gloss: ‘mushroom, sponge’ (item 117 in Bjørn 2017)

PIE (1) *sp(h)ong
Attestations: Lat. fungus; Gr. σπόγγος; Arm. sownk; (?)Ved. paṅgú ‘lame, crippled’

Notes: The formal problems in connecting the forms nonetheless fall short of dismantling the ultimate connection; only Vedic can rightfully be questioned within this context on semantic grounds.

PIE (2) *suómbh
Attestations: OHG swamp

PIE (3) *g(w)umb(h)
Attestations: OCS gǫba

External comparanda:
Uralic: *paŋka > e.g. Mari poŋgə̑ and possibly Nganasan fanka– ‘drunk’ (Joki 1973: 300f.)
Kartvelian *cumb ‘to become wet, soaked’

Discussion: The disparate yet somehow similar attestations support the consistent practice of identifying the item as non-native within IE in the standard etymological dictionaries (e.g. Beekes 2010: 1385, de Vaan 2008: 250), and there is ample reason to assume that the Uralic forms are somehow connected. A comparison with the spread of ‘orphan’ (item 62) from late PIE into FU could establish the relevant stratum for a transfer, while a loan from Uralic into IE is harder to substantiate given the initial cluster in IE. The Kartvelian form, suggested by Klimov (1998: 302), is less appealing, partly due to its semantic discontinuity, but an old Wanderwort could account for the spread as well as the internal IE inconsistencies, which may be corroborated by the exclusive distribution in European IE and Armenian; Kroonen thus suggests that the word stems from a substrate present in Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans, which similarly makes a loan from (P)IE into Kartvelian implausible (2013: 495). [Add. See now also clover for a possible Kartvelianesque substrate in prehistoric Europe]

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PhD stud. at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena) 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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