Version of 2009-04-10

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Grzegorz Jagodziski

Indo-European and Semitic languages

12 – 3

Lexicon

Below there is an incomplete list of lexical similarities between both language families. It is worth noticing that there exists especially much convergence between the Semitic languages and the Germanic branch (more on this here). In a lot of instances it is hard to guess whether we observe words which are inherited from a distant proto-language, borrowings that took place in a newer epoch, or there is a simple coincidence. That is why the commentary is limited to minimum. Sometimes a given comparison seems to be unbelievable, however you should not forget numerous instances of irregular phonetic changes, including changes in the sequence of consonants in words. Such changes are enough frequent in both IE and Semitic languages.

Among the Semitic languages, Arabic forms are give first as a rule, because in that language the consonant structure of words is the least modified when compared to the Semitic proto-language.

Semitic Indo-European
Akk. appāru ‘wild boar’ Ger. Eber, OE eofor < *ebura-, Lat. aper, Pol. wieprz ‘boar’, Greek kpros
Arab. ˀaḥadun, ˀwāḥidun ‘one’, ḥidatun ‘be the only one’ (the root ḥid- ~ ḥad-)
  • Pol. jeden ‘one’ < IE *ed-oinos;
  • Pol. dziewi, Gr. enna < IE *ed-newm̥ ‘nine’
Arab. ˀakara ‘to plough’, Hbr. ˀikkār ‘farmer with no own land’, Akk. ikkaru, inkaru ‘(little) farmer, ploughman’ (? < Sum. engar) Engl. acre (formerly ‘field’), Ger. Acker ‘field’ (formerly ‘meadow’), Lat. ager ‘field, ploughland’, Gr. agrs, Skr. jra- ‘pasture; field’; usually interpreted as IE *aǵro- from the root *aǵ- ‘to drive (cattle)’
Arab. ˀalfun ‘thousand’, Akk. alpu ‘cattle’, Phoenician ˀ-l-p ‘ox’ Engl. calf, Ger. Kalb < PG *kalba- (referred, probably incorrectly, to IE *gel-bh- ‘to swell’, cf. Lat. globus ‘globe’)
Arab. ˀarḍun, Hbr. ˀereṣ ‘earth’, Akk. erṣetu Engl. earth < *erþō, but also Gr. erā and Welsh erw ‘field’
Arab. ˁanzatun ‘goat’, Akk. enzu, ezzu, azzatu, ḫazzatu the hesitation k- ~ 0- similar like in Akk. ḫ- ~ 0-:
  • Pol. koza < IE *koǵā, Alb. keth, kedhi ‘kid’ (cf. Engl. kid), OE hǣcen (see also Tatar , Chuv. kaaga);
  • without k-: Skr. ajā́, Lith. ožỹs, okà;
  • Gr. aĩks, D aigs, Arm. ayc, Skr. eḍa- ‘kind of sheep’, Av. izaēna- ‘of leather’
Arab. ˁaqrabun ‘scorpion’, Akk. aqrabu Engl. crab, Ger. Krabbe and Krebs, Gr. krabos ‘crab’ and skorpis
Ugaritic ˁ-ṯ-t-r-t ‘Ashtarte – Ishtar (goddess)’, Phoenician ˁ--t-r-t (hence Arab. ˁatarūtu), Akk. itaru < *ˁiṯtar- < *ˁitar-
  • Gr. stēr ‘star’, Lat. stella < *sterela, Engl. star < steorra, Ger. Stern < sterno < IE *H2ster-;
  • possibly Engl. iron, Ger. Eisen < *īsarna- (from Celtic)
Arab. baˁlun ‘lord; husband; sir’, Hbr. baˁal ‘sir; god’s name’ Celtic Bel ‘god’s name’, Slavic bol- ‘more’ (cf. Pol. Bolesaw), Skr. balin- ‘strong, powerful’, Gr. blteros ‘better’, Frisian pall ‘strong, hard’, Lat. dē-bilis ‘weak’
Hbr. barzel ‘iron’, Akk. parzillu (in other AA languages the same root denotes other metals, e.g. Egyptian b-j-ˀ ‘copper’, Chadic and Cushitic bir- ‘iron’, ‘silver’ or ‘metal’ in common)
  • Lat. ferrum < *fersom ~ *fersilom;
  • with a shift and a meaning change Pol. srebro ‘silver’ < PS *serbro, Lith. sidãbras, prus. sirablan, Engl. silver, Ger. Silber, Goth. silubr; bask. zilhar;
  • perhaps also Gr. sdēros ‘iron’, Dor. sdāros (cf. the Lith. form!)
Arab. burrun ‘wheat’, Hbr. bār ‘threshed grain’
  • Pol. perz ‘wild wheat, Triticum repens< pyrь, OCS pyro ‘spelt, Triticum spelta’, OE fyrs ‘wheat-grass’, Gr. pȳrs ‘wheat’, Old Lith. pūras ‘grain of wheat’;
  • maybe also Pol. ber, gen. bru < PS bъrъ ‘a gender of millet, Setaria sp, Panicum miliaceum or Milium effusum
Akk. dunnunu ‘fortified’
  • Engl. down ‘sand-drift’ < OE dūn ‘hill’ < *dūna-, a Germanic borrowing from Celtic dunum ‘stronghold’;
  • the same in PG *tūnaz > Engl. town, Ger. Zaun ‘fence’
Arab. darkun, darakun ‘way, round’, Hbr. derek̲ ‘way’ Pol. droga ‘way’, Russ. dorga < PS *drga < IE *dhorHg- without convincing IE etymology
Arab. dārun ‘house’, dūrun ‘houses’, dāˀiratun ‘circle’ Engl. thorp, Ger. Dorf < PG *þurp-, Lat. turba ‘mob’, Gr. trbē ‘confusion’; Engl. twirl < PG *þweril-
Akk. dūru ‘long time’ Lat. dūrāre ‘to endure, to persist’, skd Ger. Dauer ‘duration’
Arab. d̲irāˁun ‘arm’, Hbr. zərōăˁ Engl. steer < PG *steur-
Akk. epūu ‘sacrifice, offering’ Lat. opus, D operis < *opes-is ‘work’, OE efnan ‘to make’ < *ōbjan < *ōp- ~ *op- ‘offering’, Skr. apas ‘work’
Akk. gadū ‘kid’, Arab. gadjun Engl. goat, Goth. gaits, Lat. haedus (cf. also ˁanzatun above)
Arab. gamalun, gamlun ‘camel’, Hbr. gāmāl, pl. gəmallīm, Akk. gammalu
  • Engl. camel < Lat. camelus, Gr. kamēlos ‘camel’, Russ. komolyj ‘hornless’;
  • Lith. kumelỹs ‘horse’, kumẽlė ‘mare’, Latv. kumē ̧ļ ‘foal’, Skr. kumār- ‘baby, son, child’;
  • Lat. caballus ‘horse’, Pol. kobya ‘mare’, OTurk. kvl, Pers. kaval ‘swift horse’;
  • Lat. cabō, gen. cabōnis ‘horse’, Fin. hepo ‘steed’, hevonen ‘horse’;
  • Pruss. camnet ‘horse’, Pol. ko < PS *kom(o)nь (cf. komonica ‘birdfoot trefoil, Lotus’) < *kamni-
Hbr. gal ‘wave; spring’ (in Chadic and Cushitic sim. ‘river, lake’) Engl. well, Ger. Quelle ‘spring’ without IE etymology
Arab. ġaranun ‘eagle’, Akk. urinnu, erū Hittite ḫara(n), OE earn, Ger. Aar, Swedish rn, Ger. Adler < *edel-ar ‘a noble bird of pray’ < *arnu-, *arōn ‘eagle, bird of pray’, Pol. orze ‘eagle’ < PS *orьlъ < *orilo-, Gr. rnīs, rnīth- ‘bird’
Arab. ġirnīqun, ġurnūqun ‘crane’
  • Engl. crane, Gr. granos < IE *gerH-no-;
  • Pol. uraw < *žeravjь, Lith. grvė, Lat. grūs < *gerH-w-
Arab. ġurābun ‘raven’, Akk. āribu, ēribu, ḫērebu ‘raven, crow’, Hbr. ˁōrēb̲ ‘raven’
  • Engl. crow (echoic?);
  • raven < PG *xrabnaz, Lat. corvus, Gr. kraks
Arab. ḫuffun ‘paw, foot; shoe, slipper’ Engl. hoof < PG *xuf-, Pol. kopyto ‘hoof’ with unclear -yt-, Skr. apha < IE *ḱopH-
Arab. ḫarīfun ‘autumn’, Akk. ḫarpu
  • Engl. harvest, Ger. Herbst ‘autumn’ < PG *xarbista < IE *karp- with untypical -a-;
  • also Lat. carpere ‘to pick fruit’, Gr. karps ‘fruit’;
  • unclear reference to Engl. harp, Ger. Harfe < PG *xarpō
Akk. ḫussu ‘reed hut’ Engl. house < PG *xūs
Ugar. ḥrt ‘to plough’, Hbr. ḥr, Akad. erēu ‘till land’ Hitt. ḫarawar ‘tillage, agriculture’, ḫar- ‘to tillage without the help of an animal’ (< IE *Har-s- ?)
Arab. kalbun ‘dog’ Hitt. ḫuelpi ‘newborn animal’, Engl. whelp < PG *xwelp-, Welsh colwyn
Arab. labwat-, labāt- ‘lioness’, Akk. labbu (labˀu, lābu) ‘lion’, Hbr. poet. lāb̲īˀ (together with normal ˀarjē < *ˀarwaj); Hbr. laji, Arab. lajṯun, lājiṯun (maybe contamination of the previous and *najṯu- > Akk. nēu, but also Arab. nahhāsun, nahūsun, minhasun) Pol. lew < PS lьvъ < OHG lwo < Lat. leō, Gr. lōn, līs
Arab. lawḥun ‘lath, board’, lawḥatun ‘shield’ Engl. lath < OE *læþþ and lætt (from Nordic), without etymology
Arab. lisānun ‘tongue, language’, laḥwasa ‘to lick’, Hbr. lāōn ‘tongue, language’, lāqaq ‘to lick’
  • Engl. tongue, Goth. tungo, Lat. lingua, Old Lat. dingua, Skr. juhū-, jihvā-, Avestan hizū, hizvā, Pol. jzyk, Pruss. insuwis, Lith. liežùvis, Gr. glõtta, glõssa, gltta, maybe also Lat. gingīva ‘gum (of a tooth)’, Gr. gamphēla ‘muzzle, mouth’;
  • Pol. liza ‘to lick’, Lith. liẽžti, Skr. lḗḍhi, lhati, Gr. lekhō, Lat. lingō, Engl. lick
Arab. malaga ‘to suck’ Engl. milk < PG *mel(u)ka-, borrowed to Slavic (Pol. mleko), together with Old Pol. modziwo ‘beestings, colostrum’ instead of *moziwo from IE *melHǵ- ~ *mlaHǵ-t-, Lat. lāc, lactis, Gr. gala, galaktos, also Georgian rʒe < *mlǵe
Akk. manū ‘to count, to measure’, Arab. manā ‘to check, to try’, Hbr. mānā(h) ‘to count’ (maybe of the root *man ‘to think’, related to Nostratic *manu ‘think’ in Altaic, Uralic, Dravidian, IE)
  • Engl. moon < PG *mēnō, Engl. month < PG *mēnōþ < IE *mē-n-, Lat. mēnsis < IE *mē-n-s-, Pol. miesic ‘month’ < PS *mscь < IE *mē-s-;
  • Skr. māti ‘to measure’, Lat. mētior ‘t.s.’, Hittite meḫḫur ‘time’, Pol. mierzy ‘to measure’, miara ‘a measure’ < mr- < IE *mē-, *mē-t-, *mē-r-, *mē-n- < *meH-;
  • Engl. meal < *mē-l- ‘meal time’;
  • Gr. mtron ‘a measure’, Lith. mẽtas ‘year’ < IE *me-t-;
  • Gr. medmnos, mdimnos ‘a measure of grain’, OE metan, Ger. messen ‘to measure’, Lat. modus ‘a measure’ < IE *me-d-, *mo-d-
Arab. muhrun ‘foal’, Akk. mūru Engl. mare, ir. marc ‘horse’ < IE *mark-, also Mongolian mo ‘horse’< *mori, Korean mal < Middle Korean mằr
Arab. nahrun ‘river’, Akk. nāru Pol. Ner ‘name of a river’ < Nyr, nur ‘diver, loon’, zanurza si ‘to plunge, to dive’ < IE *nuHr-, nouHr-, cf. also nora ‘burrow, den’, Lith. nrti < *nerH- ~ *norH-
Hbr. pā(j) ‘mouth’, st.constr. , Akk. , Arab. fumun Pol. pi ‘to drink’, Lat. bibere and pōtāre, Skr. pāti, pipati ‘he is drinking’ (IE irregular *pei-, *pō-, *pipe-, *bibe-)
Akk. padānu ‘path’; bask. haran < *padan Engl. path, Ger. Pfad < PG *paþ- (? from Iranian path-)
Akk. perdu ‘horse, mule’, Hbr. pered̲ ‘mule’, and also Arab. farasun ‘horse’, Hbr. pārā ‘equipage’; Arab. faraˀun ‘onager, wild donkey’, Akk. parû, paraḫu, Hbr. pereˀ (with related words in Cushitic, Chadic and Omotic); cf. also Syrian bardūnā ‘mule’, Arab. bird̲awn- ‘not thoroughbred horse’, Eth. bāzrā ‘mare’; cf. also Arab. barīd- ‘carrier horse’ (from Greek?) Ger. Pferd ‘horse’ < OHG pferīd, pferifrīd < PG *parafrid-, from Lat. verēdus,*paraverēdus ‘carrier horse, huntsman’s horse’ (from that also Gr. braidos, beredos), from Gallic (Welsh gorwydd ‘horse’)
Hbr. pered̲ ‘odd number’, Arab. fardun ‘one, the only one’ Pol. pierwszy ‘first’, Engl. first, Gr. prõtos, Lat. prīmus; also Georgian p̣irveli, Turkish bir ‘one’, Mongolian br ‘everyone’, Korean piroso ‘in the beginning’, Japanese hittsu < *pitə- ‘one’, from Altaic *bi̯uri
Akk. puluḫtu ‘fright, fear’ Engl. fright < fryhta < *furxtīn, Goth. farhts ‘fear’
Arab. qadda ‘to cut’, qaṭṭa ‘to cut off’, Hbr. qāṭam ‘to cut down’ Engl. cut, OIc. kuta, with no further etymology
Arab. qāla ‘to speak’
  • Engl. call from Nordic kalla, Briton galw; Pol. gos ‘voice’ < PS *gols-, Ossetian γalas < *golḱ-;
  • Gr. kaléō ‘to call, to name’
Arab. qāma ‘to stand up, to become’ Engl. come, become, Goth. qiman, Skr. gmati, gcchati ‘goes’, Lat. veniō, Gr. banō (with irregular change *m > n) < IE *gʷem-
Akk. qarābu ‘war, battle’, Hbr. qərāb̲, maybe also Arab. qurḥatun ‘wound, injury’ OE here ‘army’, Ger. Heer < PG *xarjaz; cf. also herald < *xariwald-
Arab. qarjatun, qirjatun ‘housing estate, town, village’, Aram. qurəjātā, Phoenician qart ‘city, town’, Ugaritic q-r-t Pol. grd ‘(old) city, castle’, Engl. yard, Lith. gar̃das, Skr. gr̥has ‘house’, Tocharian A kerciye
Arab. qarnun ‘horn’ (also ‘vertex’, not related to qarana ‘to bind, to tie’)
  • Engl. horn < PG *xurnaz, Lat. cornū, Skr. ŕ̥ŋga-;
  • Gr. karā ‘head’ (> Lat. cara ‘face’ and Engl. cheer) < IE *ḱr̥-H-;
  • Gr. kéras ‘horn’, Persian sar ‘head’ < IE *ḱer-H-s-;
  • Lat. cerebrum ‘brain’ < IE *ḱr̥-H-s-ro-;
  • Gr. kraníon ‘skull’ (> Lat. cranium and Pol. migrena < French migraine < hemicranium) < IE *ḱr̥-s-no-;
  • Engl. hornet < PG *xurznuta, Lat. crabrō, Pol. szersze < PS *̥-en-;
  • Gr. krios ‘ram’ < IE *ḱr̥-ī-;
  • Engl. rein-deer < OE hreinn < PG *xrajna ‘horned animal’ < IE *ḱr̥-oi-n-;
  • Engl. rinder-pest < OE hrind ‘ox’, Ger. Rinder ‘cattle’ < PG *xrinda;
  • Pol. krowa ‘cow’, Russ. korva < IE *ḱr̥-Hw-;
  • Lat. cervus ‘deer’, cervix ‘neck’ < IE *ḱr̥-w-;
  • Engl. hart < PG *xerutaz < IE *ḱer-u-do-;
  • Gr. korynē ‘club, cudgel’, koryphē ‘head’, korymbos ‘the highest part’
Arab. qatala ‘to kill’, maybe also Arab. qatta ‘to tell lies’ Engl. hate, Ger. hassen < PG *xat-; OE heaþu ‘war’, Ger. Hader ‘quarrel’ < PG *xaþ-; Gr. kḗdō ‘I worry’, Welsh cas ‘hate’, cawdd ‘anger’; maybe also Engl. kill, quell, Old Irish. at-baill ‘he is dying’ < IE *gwel-
Arab. qaṭara ‘to drip; to cover with birch tar’, qaṭrānun ‘birch tar’, Hbr. qəṭār ‘incense’ Ger. Ru ‘soot’ < PG *xrōtō, probably unrelated to Engl. rot, rust < PG and IE *ru-
Hbr. p ‘ape, monkey’, Egyptian kefi ON api, Engl. ape, Germ. Affe, ORuth. opica, Skr. kap-
Akk. sīsū, Hbr. sūs ‘horse’ Luwian azzuwa < IE *eḱwos ‘horse’
Akk. aḫū ‘pig’ (perhaps also Egyptian ˀy) Lat. sūs, Gr. hūs, sūs < IE *sū- ‘pig’
Hbr. eb̲aˁ, ib̲ˁā ‘seven’ (m and f resp.), Akk. iba, ibittu, Arab. sabˁun, sabˁatun < PSem *ibˁum, Egyptian *'safxaw, Shilha sa Engl. seven, Ger. sieben, Lat. septem, Pol. siedem < IE *septm̥
Hbr. ē, iā ‘six’ (m and f resp.), Arab. sittun, sittatun, Eth. seds, sedestū, Aram. eṯ, tā, Ugaritic ṯeṯ, Old South Arab. s-d-ṯ < PSem *idṯum; Egyptian *sar'saw, *saj'saw, Shilha sd̲is
  • Engl. six, Ger. sechs, Lat. sex, Gr. heks, Pol. sze, Skr. ṣaṣ < IE *ksweks (the presence of *k- is proved with Balto-Slavic, Albanian, Indo-Iranian facts);
  • Finnish kuusi < *kuute, Hungarian hat < *kūt- ~ *kutt-;
  • Dravidian *caru;
  • Georgian ekvsi
Akk. alḫu, ulḫu ‘wall’ (cf. also Egyptian swˀḥ.t ‘stronghold’) or Hbr. ṣēlāˁ, Arab. ḍilˁun ‘rib’, Eth. ṣəlle, ṣəlla ‘beam’ Ger. Sule, OE sȳl < PG *sūlj- ‘column’
Arab. tajsun ‘he-goat’, Hbr. taji, Akk. dau, tau, but also Hbr. dīōn ‘aurochs, Bison bonasus’, Akk. ditānu, didānu ‘t.s.’ Ger. Ziege, OHG ziga ‘she-goat’ < PG *tīgō (unknown outside German), Alb. dhi < IE *dīk-, maybe related to Pol. dziki ‘wild’, Old Pol. dziwy, dziwoki, Lith. dỹkas
Arab. tawˀamun ‘twins’ Engl. twins < IE *du- ‘two’
Arab. ṯawrun, Akk. ūru ‘bull’
  • Engl. steer, Goth. stiur, Avestan staōra < IE *steuro-;
  • Pol. tur ‘urus, Bos primigenius’, Lat. taurus ‘bull’, Gr. tauros < IE *tauro-
Arab. wajnun, Hbr. jajin ‘wine’ Engl. wine, Gr. (w)oĩnos, Lat. vīnum; Hitt. wijana, cf. also Georgian γvino
Arab. waqā ‘to preserve, to defend’ Engl. wake, watch, wait < PG *wak-, *waxt-, Lat. vegere ‘to be active’, Skr. vāja ‘strength, speed’
Arab. warada ‘to come’, wardijānun ‘guardian’ Engl. guard < Old French garder < Frankish warden
Akk. zību ‘sacrifice, offering’ OE tiber ‘sacrifice, offering’; Ger. Ungeziefer ‘vermin’

Remark: the table above contains instances of words which appear in only one group of the Indo-European languages, or such instances which are present in various groups of IE and in Semitic but with no counterparts in other Nostratic languages. Agricultural lexicon is also included because it might be borrowed from one group into another (in the time of the Afro-Caucasian protolanguage agriculture had not been known yet). And so, there are no examples of words which can also be found in other languages in the shape which suggests that they are inherited rather than borrowed.



Postscript

Information on phonetics of reconstructed IE forms

For the Proto-IE language 3 proper short vowels are usually reconstructed: a, e, o, from which a was able to occur only under special conditions (after a laryngeal). Those vowels were able to form the diphthongs ai, ei, oi, au, eu, ou. As the result of diphthong reduction the high vowels i, u developed. Morphological processes led to developing of the long vowels ā, ē, ō as well as respective long diphthongs.

Combinations of vowels or diphthongs and the following laryngeal formed long vowels of a new gender which differed from the previous ones with intonation. Developing of long ī, ū was also possible.

As the result of reduction of short vowels the reduced vowels a, e, o developed, and as the result of reduction of groups with long vowels and the following laryngeal the ə (schwa) developed. Groups with proper vowels and r, l, m, n (e.g. ar, el, om) bring up the rear of the list of Proto-IE vocalic elements, as well as their morphologically lengthened forms, their forms which were lengthened as the result of disappearing of the subsequent laryngeal, and finally their forms which were reduced to the vocalic consonant r̥, l̥, m̥, n̥, which were able to be morphologically lengthened as well as lengthened as the result of disappearing of the laryngeal (more details here).

The list of IE consonants contained:

The real number of consonants could have been greater. There exist reconstructions with labialized dentals dʷh, dʷ, tʷ, and also . Some scholars think that labialized variants of palatals ǵʷh, ǵʷ, ḱʷ also existed in PIE. Finally, some authors suggest existing a number of voiceless aspirated consonants ph, th, ḱh, kh, kʷh. However, they seem to have been the result of development of groups with a laryngeal.

Information on Semitic phonetics

For the proto-Semitic stage only 3 vowels a, i, u are reconstructed, together with their lengthened counterparts, just like in classic Arabic. There also existed the diphthongs aj, aw which usually were only combinatory variants of the vowel and a subsequent consonant.

Consonants in the Semitic languages are comparably little variable. Their original set of them is reconstructed basing on data from various Semitic languages.

Akkadian Hebrew Aramaic Geez Arabic PSem
p p / p̲ p / p̲ b b
p p / p̲ p / p̲ f f p
b b / b̲ b / b̲ b b b
t t / ṯ t / ṯ t t t
d d / d̲ d / d̲ d d d
ṣ < c̣
s s s s < s3 s s < c
z z z z z z < ʒ
ṭ̲ < ̣
t / ṯ s ṯ <
z z d / d̲ z d̲ < ǯ
ʕ, q ṣ̂ < ĉ̣
> s < s2 ŝ < ĉ
s < s1 s < s, , ŝ
k k / k̲ k / k̲ k k k
k k / k̲ k / k̲ k
g g / g̲ g / g̲ g g g
g g / g̲ g / g̲ g
q q q q q q
q q q q
ḫʷ ḫʷ
0 ʕ ʕ ʕ ġ ġ (ɣ)
0
0 ʕ ʕ ʕ ʕ ʕ
0 ʔ ʔ ʔ ʔ ʔ
0 h h h h h
m m m m m m
n n n n n n
l l l l l l
r r r r r r
0 j j j j j
0, m w, j w, j w w w

Explanation:


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