29 Dec 2010

Etruscan trees and related grerbage

No, it's not a typo - I really did mean to type grerbage. According to Anderson (2003)[1], a distinct lexical contrast between the tree versus the generalized grerb had existed in Latin, West Germanic, and East Germanic as opposed to North Germanic which had a slightly different contrast between tree versus grass. These possible taxonomical differences and global tendencies might be helpful to details of ancient semantics.

If Etruscan lied geographically between Germanic and Latin, could Etruscan also show a similar lexical pattern? Furthermore if Proto-Aegean *árapu (previously explained on my blog) evolved to Cyprian *arpu and it was loaned into Latin through Etruscan as arbos ~ arbor 'tree', could it be this early Proto-Etrusco-Rhaetic language that had sparked this specialization of floral terms when it expanded early in the 1st millennium across the Alps? Were neighbouring languages Venetic, Celtic, Umbrian, North Picene and South Picene also implicated in this sphere of increasing nuance in plant vocabulary?

[1] Anderson, Folk-taxonomies in early English (2003), pp.366-7 (see link).


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