chariots (was: AIT, NEW genetic evidence)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Mar 8 03:27:52 UTC 2000

>>  Tamil :
>>     uruL meaning roll,
>>     uruNdai meaning round or spherical
>>     uruTTu = rotate or roll
>>     Are Tamil words related to Latin rota ?

If so, (according to the Nostratic theory which derives  Dravidian,
Indo_Euroepan, Uralic, Altaic, Kartvelian in the Caucasus,
Afro-Asiatic/Hamito-Semitic from a parent language of c. 10,000 BCE),
then indirectly.
As Nostratic  is so early, no entry for 'to turn/roll' in the Nostr.
dictionary by Illich-Svitych, except for **t.ur^ 'fast',  IE *twer, etc.

(I suggest the journal Mother Tongue - $ 25 per year - for such questions,
see the website of the journal, newsletter of the  Association for the
Study of Language In Prehistory (ASLIP):

Latin rota, German Rad  (both 'wheel') go back to an IE root *reth 'to
turn'; Skt. ratha is derived from it, by extension of meaning, cf. Engl.
'my wheels' = 'my car'.

(cakra  is more interesting, see below).

Since  Dravid. words cannot really begin with r-, the initial  u- of uruL
may be epenthetic, as in the very old loan word  arahan   (inscr.)   DEDR
201 < Skt. raajan, cf. also araicu  < raajan ''king'', and uruva(m)  <
ruupa 'form, appearance'...

>>     How come Tamil rule of
>>     the retroflex consonants  L,N,T seems to be related to
>>     the words roll-round-rotate ? Is it a coincidence ?
>>     Has someone studies such connections (apparent or real) ?

Onomatopoetic sounds are everywhere of course,  ---
cf. late Sanskrit lolati / lollati 'to roll, to loll,', Slavic lel-,
Latin lolium; -- and cf. Engl. to roll, etc., French rouler, etc. etc.
--- note also Skt. gola 'ball, round', Old Newari guluca 'marble', New.
guli 'round object',  gulicaa 'pill', Japanese goro-goro 'rolling around,
thundering etc.';
--- but they differ from language to language, as do imitations of (animal)
Many studies on onomatopoetica or 'expressive', etc. words,  whatever
linguists happen to call them. Emeneau has one on Drav. of the type
kara-xara, K.Hoffman on the type bal-bal, and others  in Vedic.

> Intriguing also is Tamil shares the words for nail, axle, etc.,
> Do they all go to Southwest Asia where wheeled transport was invented?

Well, 'axle' comes from IE *ak'sa  (Latin axis, Greek -aksa, O.H.German
ahsa, etc./ Vedic:  akSa > (N?) Drav. accu;
but ANi  'lynch pin' is foreign to both Drav. and Vedic languages (though
DEDR derives it from Skt.!) -- and a local loan.
But cakra, Engl. wheel, etc. < IE  *kwe-kw-lo- may ultimately derive from
Sumerian  gilgul 'wheel', cf.  also  (GIS-)gigir 'wagon'.

However, Dravidian has quite a number of loans from Sumerian in the
agricultural field, see
Blazek, V. and C. Boisson, The Diffusion of Agricultural Terms from
Mesopotamia. Archiv     Orientalni 60, 1992, 16-37 , -- --
such as Sumerian ur 'millstone', Proto-South Drav. *ur-al 'mortar' (p. 24),
Sumer. ili 'sesame', Akkad. ellu/Ulu 'sesame oil', which is only found in
South Drav. with eL, eLLu 'Sesamum indicum' but cf. Ved. tila and jar-tila
'sesame';  etc. etc.
----   which seems to point to a location of early Proto-Drav. closer to
Mesopotamia on the Iranian plateau, (cf. also the --supposed -- genetic
connection of Drav. and Elamite,  in McAlpin's work, denied by a number of
Dravidian scholars).

A Drav.- Mesopotamian link, at least of loan words, seems clear, though.

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
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