restricted access Chapter 14: More Semitic Loans into Greek

From: Black Athena

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[CH. 14] MORE SEMITIC LOANS INTO GREEK 325 MORE SEMITIC LOANS INTO GREEK CHAPTER 14 INTRODUCTION W hen I began this project in 1975, I focused exclusively on Semitic loans into Greek, that is to say I was unconcerned with Nostratic, with Semitic loans into PIE or with Egyptian loans into Greek. By the mid-1980s, when I wrote the first drafts of what became Volume 1; I had realized that the first two factors could also explain parallels between West Semitic and Greek. By this time, I believed that some 20 percent of the basic stems in the Greek vocabulary came from West Semitic and an equal number from Ancient Egyptian . Further research made me modify this prediction. While I still maintain the overall figure of 40 percent, I have changed the proportions within it. I now estimate that there are rather fewer Semitic loans— some 15 percent of the Greek vocabulary—while there are more from Egyptian—around 25 percent. It is possible, however, that the numbers are skewed by the many obscure Greek words only attested in Egyptian papyri, thereby introducing local terms. Had more been preserved in the Levant, the proportions might well be better balanced. Another reason that this volume pays rather less attention to Semitic loans is that, unlike the situation with the Egyptian, considerable work has already been carried out on the former. In Chapter 7, I set out a history of the study of Semitic loans into Greek.1 I should reiterate that 326 BLACK ATHENA over the past forty years Cyrus Gordon, Michael Astour, Saul Levin and John Pairman Brown have carried out excellent research in this area. With few exceptions, however, these scholars have limited their lexical research to the bounds of the third criterion set out by Michel Masson and attributed to Heinrich Lewy: “He threw out of his list, abstract or too broad-ranging nouns, adjectives and verbs.2 While I do consider some of the words for concrete luxury and other items considered appropriate for “Semites,” I see no reason to treat them exhaustively. In general, these etymologies have been established with far more scholarly precision than I could ever muster. Even elsewhere, I have merely followed Professor Levin in examining the words of fundamental syntactic importance, autos and the definite article. In this chapter I shall concentrate precisely on the semantic region that Lewy and Michel Masson considered taboo: “abstract or too broad-ranging nouns, adjectives and verbs,” following the letter order of the Canaanite alphabet : >, b, g, d, h, z, h≥ (h÷), t, y, k, l, m, n, s, J, p, s≤, q, r, s=, t. 1. ÷ ÷ ÷ ÷ ÷b> Baivnw “walk, stand, come, go.” Chantraine takes the orthodox position set out by Benveniste that baino\ (H) comes from an IndoEuropean root * gWem-/gWm5 or * gWEE2 /gWE2 .3 The alternation was necessary to allow for the presence or absence of the final -ino\ of the stem. Seeing it as fundamental allows an association with the IndoEuropean root found in the Gothic qiman and English “come.” However, -ino\ is a common suffix and all other tenses indicate a stem be–-/* baw-/* bay “to walk, go.”4 This is found in every branch of the super-family and almost every Semitic language. In Phoenician it is b>, in Hebrew b(w)>, in the perfect of that language bå>. Thus, in contrast to the confused and contradictory Indo-European etymologies for baino\ the Afroasiatic, through Semitic, is quite straightforward. 2. ÷ ÷ ÷ ÷ ÷dl(1) Deilov", Dou'lo" “inferior, weak, dependent, slave.” Julius Pokorny accepts the conventional link between dou'lo" Mycenaean doero deilov" “weak, cowardly” and deivdw “I fear” and ultimately duo “two.” Even if one recognizes a relationship between deilo\s and deído\, the proposed Indo-European etymology is highly insecure. Presumably for this reason, Frisk and Chantraine agree that doûlos is a non-Indo-European [CH. 14] MORE SEMITIC LOANS INTO GREEK 327 loan into Greek. Not surprisingly, they propose, without the slightest evidence , a derivation from Carian or Lydian. Jasanoff and Nussbaum strongly object to my glossing doûlos as “client ,” stating that it only meant “born slave.”5 By contrast, Chantraine in his detailed description of the word’s semantics writes, “The uses . . . do not show that the word means ‘slave from birth.’ The word has a general sense and its frequent use on Mycenaean tablets does not provide precise meanings.” Once again, Jasanoff and Nussbaum have succumbed to the Indo-Europeanists’ occupational hazard of misplaced...


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