4 Jun 2010

The Minoan word for 'eye'

I must praise Bayndor (Andras Zeke) for uncovering the possible Minoan word for 'eye'. Although I only caught wind of it this past week, I now see that he has commented about it before in February of this year in the commentbox under his January entry where he says: "Take the example of Lin A *79 = DO. It depicts an eye. I have a feeling that it does have something to do with Luwian Dawa = 'eye' and Etruscan Tva = 'to see'. In this case, it might have arisen through the path *tawa -> *tau -> *to [DO]."

Evidently he's been taking advantage of my Etruscan dictionary where I equate a Proto-Etruscan *tau with 'to see, to behold' (note the presentive form tva '(he/she) sees; (it) is shown' is attested in TLE 98, 170 and 399) and I'm flattered. This has had me thinking for a while and I've discovered an interesting network of facts that are only adding further depth to his astute analysis.

First off, what was immediately shocking to me was that I wasn't even aware of Luwian tawa- 'eye' when I supplied the value of 'to see, to behold' (and also 'to make see; to show') to the apparent verb root *tau. This value was solely arrived at by context where its meaning is most apparent in TLE 399, a mirror, on which is inscribed quite bluntly: Eca sren tva iχ nac Hercle, Unial clan, θrasce. "This image shows thus when Heracle, Uni's son, was satiated." The value of θrasce (or possibly two words, θra and sce) is the only thing in this inscription that remains a matter of debate.

Understanding this, it was shocking to further uncover the Latin word tueor 'to look at, behold'. The likelihood of an Etrusco-Latin borrowing immediately came to mind. Considering the Luwian stem tawa-, it makes more sense that it was Latin that borrowed the Etruscan word and that this verb is much older than Etruscan, probably stemming right back to the Proto-Aegean parent which I situate in the Aegean islands, Western Turkey and Cyprus. We then may come to the conclusion that Anatolian languages likewise borrowed a nominal derivative of this same verb from Minoan. Exciting stuff!

Yet to hold on to this interesting connection between Etruscan *tau and an apparent Minoan word for 'eye', I'm compelled to put into question Andras' value of DO for the Minoan eye glyph. Instead, I find a regular correspondance of Etruscan z with Minoan d, whereas an Etruscan t warrants Minoan t. So I wonder if it's possible that the true value here is TO instead, in which case we may reconstruct Minoan *towa 'eye' and everything becomes quite regular.


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