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Glen Gordon


Thanks a lot for the plug :)

I would reckon that in order to begin to establish the existence of a para-dialect of a protolanguage, much like establishing the validity of the protolanguage itself, one needs to find systematic changes in a particular region, at least as a base for whatever further evidence one finds to justify its shadow presence.

One can't logically deny a possibility that *welkʷ-/*welp- is the product of substrate influence. However, speaking as a devil's advocate, we need more to go on. Perhaps one would then look for evidence of a systematic change of /kʷ/ to /p/ in known IE dialects and non-IE languages that entered that region at that time. The problem is that such a sound change isn't uncommon and is a minor event. It requires no substrate to occur and ergo, by Occam's Razor, the hypothesis of "There is no discernible substrate to be seen in this" is the optimal solution. Basing the existence of a particular para-IE substrate on a trivial sound change probably won't yield much result.

I'm of course saddened to say mean things like that. If only it was easier to nab para-dialects in the act. So while I think language waves have so much potential, they also require a vast amount of effort, combing through data and heavy contemplating, much like... say... finding planets based on minor gravitational/optical irregularities in stars. Basically, we're looking for a linguistic "Doppler Effect" in the data.



[this is good] I realise that the sound change isn't uncommon. Therefore it can be
hard to find it in the Celtic languages, and to a lesser extent in
Greek. But most other Indo-European languages have not had such a *kʷ>*p shift, not until recorded history at any rate.

What I'm trying to get at, is that in Indo-European there seems to be a sporadic alternation between*kʷ and *p. The explanation I opted of some para-Indo-European language which may have had this shift is far out there I know. Therefore don't consider this blog entry as trying to prove that this is the case. I'm only suggesting that there might be reason to look further into it.

And in fact, as I was on Snowboarding holiday my head exploded with ideas how to further look into it (Linguistics never leaves you alone, not even while going down the mountain with dizzying speeds :D). So expect an update soon ;)

Ivan Štambuk

Beside Indo-Iranian, *wl̥kʷos was regularly reflected also in Balto-Slavic (Lith. vilkas, EPSl. *wilku > LPSl. *vьlkъ (OCS vlьkъ), Tocharian B  walkwe, and Albanian ulk.

Latin lupus was either borrowed from Oscan-Umbrian where *kʷ regularly gave p (just as in P-Celtic), or one can, because of a tabu, reconstruct earlier *lukʷos with *l and *w metathesized. Sometimes the alternative variant *wl̥pos is reconstructed which would account for Germanic *wulfaz and Hittite ulippana. However, in that case one has to add meaning "fox" to it because it would give also yield Latin volpes.

Alternatively, one can assume that the noun *wĺ̥kʷos was in fact petrified adjective *wl̥kʷós "bad", which was reflected in Old Irish olc, Hittite walkuwa- and Vedic vṛ́ka-tāt "rapacity". Deadjectivalization is indicated in stress shift (on ablaut *o instead of a syllabic liquid), which is typical of deadjectival nouns (cf. Vedic kṛṣṇá ́"black" as an adjective vs. kṛ́ṣṇa "black, darkness" as a noun). Similar semantic shift can be seen in Germanic: Old Norse vargr both "wolf" and a "criminal, villain", 


I'm a huge opponent of the 'tabu'-theory. It does not seem logical to me that Indo-Europeans had such a well established view of their own phonology that they'd actually be able to switch up two phonemes following each other.

Besides that I'd like to add that Tocharian B's walkwe is rather dangerous to call a known cognate. Although it looks a lot like it; it's a rather inverse translation.

We translate walkwe as 'wild beast' because it looked like *wl̥kʷos, rather than that it is absolutely clear from the context. I don't think there are any other words known in Tocharian that accounts for a vocalic *l, which makes it even more dangerous. :D

And yeah, I thought Balto-Slavic also reflected that word. But since I have next to know knowledge of Balto-Slavic, I'd rather not discuss it, and leave it up to people who, apparently, have better knowledge of it, like you ;-).

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