I wasn’t expecting much when I visited the Illyrian language site (whose title bar reads “Who were Illyrians?”). It had all the earmarks of a crackpot site: bad English, shaky formatting, unsupported statements, uncertain grasp of the difference between myth and history. But when I scrolled down the (near-endless) page, I found (below the dynastic tables, king lists, “History of the Eagle,” &c) a heading Indo – European Etymological Dictionary. When I clicked on Part I, I discovered this was Pokorny’s Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, the basic tool of the Indo-Europeanist, in easily readable form.

The database represents the updated text of J. Pokorny’s “Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch”, scanned and recognized by George Starostin (Moscow), who has also added the meanings. The database was further refurnished and corrected by A. Lubotsky. Pokorny’s text is given practically unchanged (only a few obvious typos were corrected), except for some rearrangement of the material.

(It’s supposedly online here, but the interface is so annoying I never bother using it.) Additional material is highlighted in vivid yellow so that it can be distinguished; I don’t know who wrote it, but I suspect the author of the website (“An impact of illyr. on balt. languages has been felt through Estonian veli ‘brother’, Finnish veli ‘brother’. Clearly the Finno-Ugric group has met with Indo European family through Illyrians“). I can’t tell you how happy this resource makes me.
To save us all trouble, I’ll provide direct links to the sections of Pokorny so nobody has to keep scrolling down the Illyrian page:
Part I (*abh- to *dens-)
Part II (*deph- to *gou̯ǝ-/gū- ‘hand’)
Part III: *gou̯ǝ-/gū- ‘call, cry’ to *k̂ē(i)-)
Part IV: (*k̂ēko- to *pid-)
Part V: (*pik(h)o- to *su̯elplo-s)
Part VI: (*su̯em- to *ū̆d-, plus a few additional lemmas)

A sample of the website’s style:

Illyrian could be one of the oldest written Indo European languages. The rise of Illyrian civilization corresponds to the sudden vanquishing of Hittite civilization in adjacent Anatolia. The first Illyrian king Hyllus was identified with alb. hyll ‘star, sun’, gr. ????? (helios) ‘sun. etc. The dead ruler was certainly deified as all ancient kings were turned into gods. His appellation meant ‘the rising sun’. The closest language to Illyrian seems to have been Hittite. The settlers of Anatolia spoke a similar language to that of Balkan neighbors. Hittite people also practiced the process of deification of their kings the same as Illyrians did. Obviously the sun god played a dominant role among settlers of cold Europe. Stonehenge monuments littering Europe indicate that Illyrians and Celts together with Hittite people worshipped the sun more than any other god. The rising sun gave Illyrian and Hittite priestly class the inspiration of a quick resurrection after death. This is the reason why Christianity would be so popular among Illyrians several millennia later. The vehicle of the resurrection was considered to be the all seeing-eye, the sun god. Hittites must have penetrated the Balkan Peninsula through Greece. So powerful was the temptation of sun worship that the ruling class of Greek states began to call themselves ????????? (Helenikos) after the sun god. The entire country was called then ?????? (Hellada) and the Greeks ?????????; ?????; ????????; ???????; ???????? (Helens).

You see my point.


  1. Bill Poser says:

    The site is inaccessible now. I wonder if this is not due to over-exposure due to the no doubt thousands of Language Hat readers checking it out.
    First the /. effect, now the Language Hat effect!

  2. damn! it’s gone…

  3. Double damn.
    *resolves to keep future discoveries close to his chest*

  4. The site works for me… I was reading in the Hungarian Nepszabadsag newspaper today about the Ashkali minority in Serbia. They are muslim, Albanian speaking Roma Gypsies from Kosova who don’t want to be called Roma and who don’t speak the Romani language. They can’t get resettlement right within Serbia, but are afraid to go back to Kosovo because the local Albanian Kosovars see them as allies of the Serbs. The Serbs now see them merely as another Muslim, Albanian speaking problem group living in shanty towns on the outsklirts of Serb cities. It’s a mess.
    Wonderful place, Kosovo.

  5. zaelic, you’ve got to write a book. I promise I’ll not only buy a copy, I’ll promote the hell out of it. You must know more about obscure twigs of the tree of humanity than anyone alive.

  6. You want to see a comparable piece of contrastive linguistic crackpotage, try this. The current version is somewhat less loony.

  7. There is also a group of assimilated Roma around Lake Ochrid, in Macedonia, who call themselves Gupti, or Egyptians. (from which we get English ‘gypsy’ and greek ‘yifti’) Basically, in these regions where settled muslim Gypsies enjoyed a middle class status under the Ottomans, assimnilated Roma choose to rename themselves with the idea that they can shake the low status that accrues to the name “Gypsy.”
    In june I am back up in Maramures recording music from the Covaci clan of musician Gypsies. Same deal. A lot of small brown folk (who no longer speak Romanes) who play music, beg a lot, work as blacksmiths, never keep farm animals or own land loudly denying any connection with other Roma, while everybody around them calls them Gypsy.

  8. Altin Gjoka says:

    The author must have created new links to ease the transfer from his site. Now it seems that the Illyrian mystery will no longer be temporarily out of work. The following links are valid:
    Part I (*abh- to *dens-)
    Part II (*deph- to *gou̯ǝ-/gū- ‘hand’)
    Part III (*gou̯ǝ-/gū- ‘call, cry’ to *k̂ē(i)-)
    Part IV (*k̂ēko- to *pid-)
    Part V (*pik(h)o- to *su̯elplo-s)
    Part VI (*su̯em- to *ū̆d-, plus a few additional lemmas)

  9. the first part of Illyrian etymological dictionary

  10. Here I found the first part of Illyrian etymological dictionary

  11. Here I found the second part of the Illyrian etymological dictionary: http://us.share.geocities.com/agimzeneli/etymology2.html

  12. Third part is right here: http://us.share.geocities.com/altingjoka/etymology3.html
    The funniest thing – thius guy is using my name!!!!!!!!!!

  13. The fourth part is here: http://us.share.geocities.com/kadrizhulali/etymology4.html
    It seems to me that the author is using randomly Muslim names as domain names?!

  14. There’s hope.
    Indo-European Etymological Dictionary (IED)‎

    A project of the Department of Comparative Linguistics, Leiden University
    The aim of the project is twofold: 1) to create an Indo-European etymological data-base which, in ‎due time, will be available to the scholarly community on the Internet; and 2) to compile a new ‎Indo-European etymological dictionary, which will replace Julius Pokorny’s Indogermanisches ‎etymologisches Wörterbuch (1959). Pokorny’s masterpiece is an indispensable tool used by Indo-‎Europeanists for all kinds of research, but is completely outdated. A new dictionary is a long-felt ‎desideratum.
    Amazon.com lists it at USD 595, but they do not quite promise that they can find ít…

  15. Here comes the fifth part and the domain name seems rather Jewish: http://us.share.geocities.com/alijecipuri/etymology5.html

  16. Finally I found the sixth part (I hope there are no more): http://www.geocities.com/andi2000pl/etymology6.html

  17. anders: I’m really looking forward to seeing the new dictionary — Pokorny is definitely showing its age.
    Altin, anders: Thanks for the links!

  18. Sir (whoever you are),
    When I try one of the VI Parts of Pokorny-on-line,
    I don’t see most of the words quoted from
    individual languages (probably those with
    diacritic marks, but also words in Gothic).
    Do you think this might be due to me
    using Safari on a Mac OS 10.3.4?
    In other words, do YOU have any problems
    reading the files?

  19. Yes, I have a problem with that too. I don’t know if there are browsers that let you see it properly, or if it’s a problem with the source.

  20. Of all links included in this forum only http://www.geocities.com/andi2000pl/etymology6.html didn’t work; I found that another mirror site instead though : http://www.geocities.com/iliria6

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