[Re: Horses and chariots again.]

S.Kalyanaraman kalyan99 at NETSCAPE.NET
Thu Nov 12 16:49:27 UTC 1998

Prof. Michael Witzel wrote:> [snip]> The attestation in a great number of IE
languages points to a rather old > meaning "to take something (in a vehicle)
somewhere" (terminative action),> which has become durative already in (late)
Proto-IE and thus made an> s-aorist necessary (Vedic avaaT, subj. aor. 
vakS-at; Greek (dial.)> eFekse, Latin vexi, etc.):
> > Present: Vedic vahati 'drives', Avest. vazaiti 'drives', Greek (dial.)
> FeksetO 'must bring', Latin veho 'drive', Old Norse vega 'move, drive'
> (plus engl. waggon, etc.), Lithuanian vez^u 'drive'. Old Church Slav.
> vezo, (vesti) 'drive', Tocharian B wask, A wAsk 'to move, twitch' (new
> formation with -sk'e- present).
> > -----
> > The find of one case of human body and horse head cannot be compared to> >
Dadhyanc. The former is a funerary practice while the latter is a myth.> >
Surely no one is proposing that Dadhyanc was a real live person and that> >
the Asvins did perform the first case of head transplant. [snip]

There are two points related to semantic distance here: about semantics of
Vedic vahati (drives?) and Dadhyan~c.

Is the decapitation of Dadhyan~c and transplant attested in the Rigveda? Why
can't it be interpreted literally in the context of materials used in the
yajn~a, such as lacto products.

The dha_tu, vah moves extraordinary semantic distances in lexemes such as
nirva_ha, prava_ha. Based on the entire corpus of vah-based words, why can't
we deduce that the proto-semantics of this root were more connected with
'moving' than with 'carrying'or 'driving'? In Tamil, va_ku means: attitude? I
think this is a classic instance of the tough problem of measuring semantic
distances, so long as motion was integral to an animate being from times
immemorial, even in the pre-lithic states of evolution.


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