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Etruscan numerals (was: Interesting pre-Greek article)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Friday, September 23, 2005, 8:07
Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
>>>He seems to have built it around a single "cognate set", namely >>>PIE *kWetWor- `4': Etr. _huth_ - but the latter probably meant >>>`6', not `4', >> >>IMO it did mean 6. The argument for _huth_ = 4 is very weak. > > > Yes. It hinges on a place name, _Yttaria_ for a town that is named > _Tetrapolis_ in Greek. There are three unproven assumptions in this: >
Yes - my sources give the place name as _Hyttenia_ (YTTHNIA in Greek); but maybe there are textual differences.
> 1. Both names mean the same. (There are plenty of cases of names of > the same place in different languages meaning entirely different > things.)
Indeed there. For 22 years I lived in south Wales in a place called 'Newport'; its Welsh name is 'Casnewydd' = "new castle".
> 2. _Yttaria_ is from a language related to Etruscan. (How do we know?)
We don't! The town/city was in Lycia in Asia Minor - not exactly close to Etruria in Italy. Could the name have been, er, Lycian? AFAIK there is no obvious relationship or connexion between Lycian & Etruscan.
> 3. _Yttaria_ contains a morpheme *yt(t)- that is cognate to _huth_. > (Again, how do we know?)
We don't.
> On the other hand, we have that pair of dice, which together with > some other facts almost necessitate the conclusion that _huth_ > means `6'.
Yep - the Etruscans, like the Romans, normally put dots (as we still do) on the sides of dice to show the value of the side. But a pair of ivory dice have been found with the numbers actually written in the Etruscan script. We know the Romans & Etruscans used the convention of having opposite sides add up to 7 (a custom we have retained till the present day), so we can be certain that: mach + zal = 7 thu + huth = 7 ci + sa = 7 (It is traditional to Romanize Etruscan in the Roman manner, i.e. |c| = /k/) We know from other clear evidence that _ci_ means 3. We know that a suffix -alch was used to mean x10. The Etruscans have left us a wealth of grave inscriptions (but sadly, not enough other material), and by weighing up evidence from these and other sources, the list accepted by most scholars is, from 1 through to 6: thu, zal, ci, sa, mach, huth. Indeed, if it wasn't for Hyttenia, I am sure the order would not be questioned. Also AFAIK the "huth=4" guys merely swap around 'sa' and 'huth', giving: thu, zal, ci, huth, mach, sa. This means that two sets of opposite sides do not add up to 7, which is unusual, tho not of course impossible. I would think one needs slightly stronger evidence than the dubious (to put it mildly) connexion between 'huth' and 'hytt-'.
> >>>and you can give a set of "sound changes" for *any* >>>single pair of words. One cognate is no cognate. >> >>You can - and when you remember that Y.R. Chao showed how /ni/ --> /A/ >>is one of the Chinese 'dialects', almost any sound change can be >>demonstrated for a single word. I agree, one cognate is NO cognate.
Even two cognates is not enough. There is a language which expresses 'this/these' with h- plus affix giving number & gender agreement, and 'that/those' by an agreement prefix plus -le. Um ... h- = 'this/these', -le = 'that/those' ... that's like Latin 'hic', 'haec' etc and 'ille', isn't it? Wow - Swahili is closely related with Latin! :-D
> Exactly. It's trivially easy to construct "sound laws" that connect > Greek _theos_ with Latin _deus_. Of course, thousands of other words > then just won't play ball. And if /ni/ can go to /A/ ...
Quite so! I don't know why Glen Gordon felt the need to equate 'huth' with 4. Anyone worth their salt could easily show "sound laws" that link 'huth' and *sweks! Whatever order Mr Gordon thinks the numbers take, he must IMO at least show plausible connexions for all six of them if his ideas are to be taken seriously. -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>