EYAS.

A charming NY Times story by Melissa Sanford on the perilous flight training of urban falcons (the NY Times link generator won’t give me a blogsafe link for some reason, so this link will rot in a week) says “It takes a young falcon, known as an eyas, a week or so to learn to fly,” which of course sent me to the dictionary to find out how to pronounce eyas. It’s EYE-as, and the etymology turns out to be worth knowing as well: Middle English eias, from an eias, alteration of *a nias, an eyas, from Old French niais, from Latin ni:dus, nest; see sed- in Indo-European roots (AHD). So eyas, like orange and umpire, is the result of metanalysis (false division of the article + noun unit: “a nias” > “an eyas”). Another piquant fact: the French word niais, which once had the same meaning as the English word, now means ‘silly’ (or, in the words of Larousse, ‘simple, un peu sot’).

Comments

  1. Another one for the metanalysis list: OE nædre > MnE adder

  2. joe tomei says:

    Since long range relationships always seem to arouse the comment gods around here, I thought that I would pass this on, especially since I just got my copy of Gamkrelidze and Ivanov _Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans_ today (because of the high spending ways of the Japanese ministry of education, thank you very much.) and your citation of *sed- got me going.
    At any rate, I’m looking up *sed- and the PIE form for sit they list is *set- rather than *sed- (they argue for a more “phonologically natural” interpretation of Bartholomae’s law, see this PDF for an explanation here ) Trying to figure out why they change the final consonant, I see that they also list *es- as a root for sit, so more digging. They seem to extend (I think) Meillet’s observation (which is that IE gender arises from an animate/impersonal division) and argue for doublet verb lexemes for active and inactive classes, so that there is a verb form for animate objects and one for inanimate objects with verbs like be, stand, lie/sleep, and sit given as examples. They present a lot more info about the distinction. and there are others who have explored/are exploring this, check out 2.2 here
    So, having argued for a second root for sit that was *es- (which they relate to Sanskrit a:s-, Avestan a:s-/a:h-, Hittite eš-, and Greek he:stai ‘sits’), they then suggest a connection to Hurrian ašš- and Urartean aš-, which then suggests a connection to Proto-Uralic *ase- (there should be an acute accent over the s)
    Apologies in advance for using your post as an excuse to dip into G&I, but my 5 year old doesn’t appreciate how cool this is.

  3. I always welcome my posts being used as excuses to dip into the farther reaches of language history! I am, as you probably know, skeptical of attempts to connect IE to other language families, but am always willing to examine the evidence; I’ll have to see if the NYPL has Gamkrelidze and Ivanov so I can take a look.

  4. joe tomei says:

    I should note that the work doesn’t aim to link PIE with other Proto languages, but rather to do a reconstruction of IE that takes into account typology and the information from Hittite. They note the connection and cite Illi?-Svity? in this regard. It is translated from Russian by Johanna Nichols, and the preface should be quite interesting for you.

  5. Better and better. I’ll look for it.

  6. I am, as you probably know, skeptical of attempts to connect IE to other language families, but am always willing to examine the evidence; I’ll have to see if the NYPL has Gamkrelidze and Ivanov so I can take a look.

    I could only imagine how irritated LH might have been of all these efforts to see Kartvelian connections everywhere! Interestingly, a decade later, Gamkrelidze suddenly seems vindicated, sort of – genetically. It just has been reported that the agriculturalist component in the population mix of Yamnaya culture is the closest to the present-day Western Kartvelians. Strictly speaking it doesn’t mean that the actual ancestors of the Kartvelians went North to the Steppe 5 millennia ago – but surely it was someone more closely related to them than to Armenians, or ancient Anatolians, or a host of other plausible candidates. Strictly speaking also, while the genetics says that the hunters-gatherers from the Northern Steppe and the Southern agriculturalists met before their descendants spread IE languages far East and West, it doesn’t tell which of two groups spoke the language which has become PIE.

    But it surely piqued my attention to Gamkrelidze with his now “right location, right population, yet arguable linguistics”. I found some of his chapters – now in Google books – on Hittite words and customs very charming. And not really overbearing in Kartvelian-everything zeal. Some of the Hittite / pan-IE roots there looked just vaguely “South-of-the-Caucasus” (feminine dancing panther spirits anyone?) and others had potential Semitic connections. Maybe the Caucasus range wasn’t as impenetrable as we think of it, especially if one’s ethnic kin controlled the high passes? Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures on both sides of the Caucasus have long been considered related – and forerunners of Yamnaya. Perhaps Gamkrelidze had a point after all?

  7. I am, as you probably know, skeptical of attempts to connect IE to other language families, but am always willing to examine the evidence; I’ll have to see if the NYPL has Gamkrelidze and Ivanov so I can take a look.

    I could only imagine how irritated LH might have been of all these efforts to see Kartvelian connections everywhere! Interestingly, a decade later, Gamkrelidze suddenly seems vindicated, sort of – genetically. It just has been reported that the agriculturalist component in the population mix of Yamnaya culture is the closest to the present-day Western Kartvelians. Strictly speaking it doesn’t mean that the actual ancestors of the Kartvelians went North to the Steppe 5 millennia ago – but surely it was someone more closely related to them than to Armenians, or ancient Anatolians, or a host of other plausible candidates. Strictly speaking also, while the genetics says that the hunters-gatherers from the Northern Steppe and the Southern agriculturalists met before their descendants spread IE languages far East and West, it doesn’t tell which of two groups spoke the language which has become PIE.

    But it surely piqued my attention to Gamkrelidze with his now “right location, right population, yet arguable linguistics”. I found some of his chapters – now in Google books – on Hittite words and customs very charming. And not really overbearing in Kartvelian-everything zeal. Some of the Hittite / pan-IE roots there looked just vaguely “South-of-the-Caucasus” (feminine dancing panther spirits anyone?) and others had potential Semitic connections. Maybe the Caucasus range wasn’t as impenetrable as we think of it, especially if one’s ethnic kin controlled the high passes? Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures on both sides of the Caucasus have long been considered related – and forerunners of Yamnaya. Perhaps Gamkrelidze had a point after all?

  8. David Marjanović says:

    Fascinating.

    Two comments near the top:

    mickeydodds1 said…

    David, is it true that the ‘near eastern’ ancestry in Yamnaya was exclusively female, whilst the male ancestry was eastern European?

    October 4, 2015 at 11:46 PM

    Davidski said…

    That is indeed what it looks like at the moment.

    October 4, 2015 at 11:53 PM

  9. Long-distance female mobility is pretty fascinating (some recent studies see it mirrored a millennium later in Western Europe too, in the aftermath of the invasion of the descendants of the Kurgan cultures, e.g. A. Mittnik’s abstract here). Doesn’t it sound kind of like another storied myth vindicated, Marija Gimbutas’s transition to patrilocality and “end of Goddess” (if she ever existed)?

    Another thread in these recent genetic surprises comes almost right out of Gimbutas pages too – the role of the pre-Kurgan and pre-metal tools Khvalynsk culture (where the horse was already domesticated and worshiped, and copper decorations just started to show up). The Khvalynsk graves yielded DNA which already reveals the flow of Kartvelian-like DNA (about of quarter of their genetic makeup is from these agriculturalists, and again it’s on the maternal sides), and it’s dated to 4300-3800 BCE.

    So the long-distance genetic flow (of the females?) from the agricultural lands to the Steppe appears to predate Maikop, or metal tools and weapons, or the accumulation of power evidenced by the chieftain kurgan tombs – with perhaps only the domestication of the horse being prerequisite to the genetic churning which culminated in Yamnaya.

  10. Doesn’t it sound kind of like another storied myth vindicated

    I first read this as “another stoned myth,” which made perfect sense.

  11. marie-lucie says:

    Dmitry: vaguely “South-of-the-Caucasus” (feminine dancing panther spirits anyone?)

    Being interested in non-classical mythology, I am intrigued by this. Do you have a reference?

  12. M-L, a couple pages are skipped in the Google book but the rest still tells a lot.

    “another stoned myth,” which made perfect sense

    Well LH, but the [esp. prehistoric] anthropology always appealed to me – and I’m sure not to me alone – by its storytelling, fill-in-the-blank nature. When hypothesis-building meets poetic license, then it becomes a great read and a great food for thought & fantasy. Even though, like every early hypothesis, it probably won’t pan out in too many predictions. But I sort of believe in intense guesswork and imagination – surely it can’t get everything right, but with the right level of skill and giftedness, it may get some important things right. And some Gimbutas prediction may turn out to be closer to truth than people were willing to admit.

    I engage in the historic-fiction kind of storytelling myself every so often :). Both for good and almost-nefarious reasons. Like when the facts are lost or hidden, but parts of the story may be deduced and the rest fills in the blanks for the sake of a smooth story line (and with a comment that it may or may not be true). Or when I help my wife sell her Paganist old Russian village artifacts, freely mixing the facts and the myths from the researchers with my own conjectures about the meanings of solar and seasonal and ancestral and fertility symbols. To me, it is a tale which is at least part-right and, to the best of my knowledge, may all be right!

  13. “another stoned myth,” which made perfect sense

    Well LH, but the [esp. prehistoric] anthropology always appealed to me

    Oh, I wasn’t putting it down, I was just amused by my misreading! I agree that storytelling can get at things rational analysis can’t.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    Dmitry, thank you for the reference! Just what I was after, and more.

  15. I was just amused by my misreading!

    it just begs re-reading. in the same vein, storytelling as stoned-telling :)

  16. I agree that storytelling can get at things rational analysis can’t [yet]

    It’s just fascinating when emerging archaeological and paleogenetic evidence highlights some linguistic tidbit which I should have never known all along but never paid proper attention too.

    So Khvalynks & Yamnaya (and their immediate descendants in Central Europe) tend to draw maternal uniparental DNA markers – and, eventually, over half of their DNA overall – from a very different genetic substrate than the one where their fathers came from. The mothers are disproportionately drawn from the early farmer populations. But as I look closer, there is more to this paternal / maternal skew: as the pool of mtDNA grows more and more diverse, the pool of Y chromosome has a very low diversity and exhibits very slow change. It’s literally as if the same patrilineal clans stayed in the same areas for centuries.

    Then I read the recent LBK-massacre paper. The mass grave at Schöneck-Kilianstädten (Hesse) was discovered by chance in 2006. Its victims have been tortured or mutilated around the time of death (caused mostly by blows to the heads) (63% of tibia fractured, along with a high fraction of other arm and leg bones). About half of the victims are under the age of 8. Young females are conspicuously absent, presumably taken captive, and the paper describes it as a routine observation in Neolithic warfare-related mass graves.

    And only at this point I realize that I know nothing about the PIE kinship terminology, which would have to reflect the foreign nature of the women. A doh! moment. Of course there are numerous reconstructions for the kinship terms for father’s and husband’s relatives (down to wife-of-brother-of-husband), but none whatsoever for the wife’s relatives! I’m sure about everyone who looked at the PIE kinship terms realized that it depicts a strongly patrilineal, exogamous society … but only genetics shows the true extent of it: paternal lines staying put for centuries if not millennia, while mothers are drawn not just from a distance but indeed from different ethno-social / racial groups.

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