17 Sep 2010

Sowing wild oats and plowing the fields


Observe the above picture of a man plowing the fields with his loyal quadruped. Do you notice anything pornographic here? You shouldn't, unless you're a sick creep. Let's move on. LOL!

Under my previous article Manly goats, the commentbox brims with input from readers. I continue to reject the validity of both *kapro- 'goat' and *kapr̥- 'penis' as true Indo-European (IE) roots. In fact, I'm starting to get the strong notion that the real reason why some Indoeuropeanists like Julius Pokorny had included Sanskrit kapr̥t- 'penis' into his cognate series under the 'goat' etymon was just to make it look less like a substratal loanword restricted to Western Europe and more like a fully attested IE root in order to fill out his 1959 book Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch. It drives me nuts. It's so sloppy and obvious to me that a lot of these so-called Indo-European roots are bogus fabrications. If my current opinion ruffles a few hobbyists, so be it. A voice of doubt is needed in a world of safely treading yesmen and yeswomen from time to time.

(And this isn't to say that the more core roots of the traditional PIE lexicon like *ḱwon- 'dog' or *pénkʷe 'five' aren't competently justified. I simply urge balance and rational skepticism in all things. All humans are fallible - me, you, and even the most educated.)

Sharing recently some online leads hinting that the aforementioned Indic word kapr̥t- is fundamentally 'ploughshare' rather than 'penis', I've met some disbelieving resistance. Yet even in English, 'to plow' is used in naughty ways to refer to coitus. To further arm against the doubt, one may cite another classical term, Latin vōmer. It's primary meaning is 'ploughshare' and its secondary meaning is precisely 'penis' (or 'membrum virile' in VictorianSpeak, if you may).

Once we finally plough Pokorny's root into the mire where it belongs, his posthumous 'penis' can't get in the way of a more credible Tyrrhenian root for 'goat', backed up by Hesychius' own admission which Pokorny appears to have dismissed too eagerly as erroneous hearsay in a presumed classical age of ignorance perhaps.

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