SAWBUCK.

Avva has recently learned this slang term for a ten-dollar bill, and in the discussion on his site it turns out that various English-speakers consulted by his Russian-speaking readers were not familiar with the expression. My assumption is that this is generational rather than regional, the term being long past its sell-by date, but I’m curious to hear from my own loyal band of readers. I’ve known the word as long as I can remember, but then I cut my teeth on ’40s pulp fiction (yellowing, not hot off the presses); do you know it, and if so, from reading or as living terminology?

Comments

  1. $5 is a fin or finnif from finf, yiddish for five.
    a sawbuck is $10, from the crossed legs of a sawhorse, an x, the roman numberal 10.
    a double sawbuck is $20.
    a sawbuck is sometimes abbreviated as a saw but never as a buck, because that is a $1.

  2. Yes, but do you use those terms yourself? Does anyone you know?
    (Incidentally, this is one of the pre-MT entries which used to have a raft of comments that somehow vanished into the Blogger black hole before I could transfer them to the safety of MT. I curse thee, Blogger!)

  3. I can remember hearing my father [1920-76] use the term C-note for a US$100 bill, but I don’t remember him using fin or sawbuck, though I heard it in older movies. My grandmother [1900-88], on the other hand, used to tell me about eagles and double eagles, $10 and $20 gold coins. I don’t use the terms myself, although I will occasionally refer to a quarter as 2 bits.

  4. That’s pretty much my experience too, though I’ll sometimes refer to a “fin” or “sawbuck” as a conscious archaism. I always wanted to be an old coot.

  5. This morning I came across an entry in Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English for syebuck (which had earlier been cited as fyebuck) meaning ‘sixpence’. From 1781. He suggests it may be connected to hog for shilling, which I was also unfamiliar with.

  6. My father (1948-2001) would always use those expressions. He would say things like: “Hey kid I got this for a saw buck, yeaaa a saaaaw buck, am I a wheeler and dealer or what”
    My reply: m’kay Dad lets see if we can leave the 70′s eh

  7. The term “sawbuck” originates from the late 1800s, when construction was the force driving America’s economic prosperity.
    During this period, carpenters and craftsmen used two boards nailed together in the shape of an “X” to secure wood that was to be cut. From the side, this man-made apparatus looked like the roman numeral for “10″. They named it a “sawbuck”.
    Over time, these craftsmen began to refer to their $10 bill as a “sawbuck”. The term caught on like gossip at a Bingo hall.
    We’re not making this up.
    Look at the site to see a jpg of the Large $10 Bill with the Red X or Sawbuck!
    - The SawBucks Team

  8. duce = $2
    fin = $5
    sawbuck = $10
    double sawbuck = $20
    does anyone know the name of the = $100?
    log = 100-$100(s)

  9. buckwheat says:

    $100 is a c-note or a yard. $1000 is a large, as in 5 large

  10. Eastwood says:

    variations are still used today, for example. Many young people call 20 inch rims dubbs (this comes from the term double sawbuck), or a twenty sack of marijuana is called a dubb sack.
    1 dollar is a slat
    5 dollars is a fin or half-saw
    10 dollars is a sawbuck
    20 is a double sawbuck
    50 is half a C
    100 is a C-note (short for century-note)

  11. A while back a poster mentioned “two bits.” Interestingly that term comes from our own ‘un-developed’ West. Before the banks moved West, during the mining era, people would trade using the gold that they mined. They’d break nuggets up into small pieces (called ‘bits’) and use them as tender. The value of a ‘bit’ was later ‘set’ at about 12 cents. Hence, two-bits was a quater.

  12. One thousand is called a “dime”. It is a term that gamblers have been using forever.

  13. The Mexican equivalent Dos Equis for the Roman XX is very familiar to the younger generation. The only “Sawbucks” I’ve ever seen is a ski run in Brighton, UT, same double-crossed visual image I suppose.

    Anyway I wanted to ask why different people see different animals in saw-bucks – why it’s “horses” in Mexico, “deer” in the US, and “goats” (кОзлы) in Russia?

  14. I don’t know, but in Hebrew it’s donkeys.

  15. in Hebrew it’s donkeys

    New one for me, but so it is according to Google Images.

    It may be a loan translation from German: Let’s not forget the etymology of easel.

  16. In the Wizard of Oz, the Sawhorse is the fastest mode of transportation (and a challenge for translators into other languages, too!).

    Conversely, some saw-horses may have been thought of as “very slow horses”. Dahl mentions that the word for sawbucks in Western Russian dialects (кляч) closely corresponded to кляча (old worn-out horse, jade), and he considered it a Polish borrowing. But it doesn’t seem to be used in Polish, and Vasmer considers it an Ukrainism, at which point it’s no longer clear which meaning was the original one.

  17. A $100 bill is also a benjamin, after Benjamin Franklin (whose face is on it).

  18. marie-lucie says:

    different animals in saw-bucks – why it’s “horses” in Mexico, “deer” in the US, and “goats” (кОзлы) in Russia?

    Isn’t saw(-)buck in America the same as saw horse in England?

    In French the word is le chevalet, lit. ‘little horse’, which also means ‘easel’ (the English word is a borrowing from the German equivalent of ‘donkey’). But apparently there is also a regional word for sawbuck, la chèvre ‘goat’ (fem).

    I see above that in various languages the word for the support refers to an old, slow, almost useless animal. The French word cheval is from Latin caballus apparently a Celtic borrowing, which also referred (or may have been borrowed to refer) to an old horse (the main Laitn word for ‘horse’ being equus). I wonder if the cab in caballus was related to the ‘cap in Latin capra ‘goat (fem)’?

  19. As an American, I would only call the board construction a “sawhorse,” although I would normally expect a present-day sawhorse to have an A-frame. Using “sawbuck” for the crossed boards sounds even more archaic than using “sawbuck” for a $10 bill.

  20. In French the word is le chevalet, lit. ‘little horse’, which also means ‘easel’ (the English word is a borrowing from the German equivalent of ‘donkey’). . . (t)he French word cheval is from Latin caballus apparently a Celtic borrowing

    Looks like donkeys have been around Europe for a long time. Per Wiki:
    Brezhoneg (Breton): azen; Cymraeg (Welsh): asyn; Gaeilge (Irish): asal; Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic): asal.

    All similar to English ass, German esel, Latin asinus, Spanish asno, Russian осёл, etc.

    Horse goes by a variety of names in the Celtic languages. Per Wiki:
    Brezhoneg (Breton): marc’h; Cymraeg (Welsh): ceffyl; Gaeilge (Irish): capall, also each; Gaelg (Manx): cabbyl; Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic): each; Kernowek (Cornish): margh; Sean-Ghaeilge (Old Irish): ech.

    Similarities to French cheval, Spanish caballo, etc., and Latin equus. AHD tells me that marc’h and margh are related to English mare.

  21. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks for these lists, PO!

  22. All–

    Latin “Caballus” may or may not be a loan from some now-extinct Celtic language, but the “caballus”-type forms in Modern Celtic languages are unanimously accepted to be loans from Latin (in some instances perhaps not borrowed directly), and not indigenous Celtic words.

    (Marie-Lucie: “Capra” is an indigenous Latin word, and even if “Caballus” is too, I doubt their initial syllables have anything in common etymologically: /p/ and /b/ remained quite distinct phonemes in all positions in the transition form Indo-European to Latin, as I recall).

    “Ech” and “Each”, on the other hand, are straightforward cognates of Latin “equus”. As for the words for “donkey” listed, I would not be surprised if ALL were borrowed from Latin “Asinus” (with a phonologically irregular shift from /n/ to /l/ for some of them): German “Esel” is exactly what we would expect the reflex of a Latin borrowed form *asilus to be (/a/ umlauted to /e/ through the influence of the following /i/ before the latter, being unstressed, was weakened to schwa: cf. “Etzel” as the German reflex of “Attila”, which I think was discussed on another thread here some time ago).

  23. And ‘donkey’ is a nickname for ‘Duncan’, brought forth to blot away the terrible Ass.

  24. Note that EQUUS survives in the feminine in most of the Romance words for ‘mare’: Spanish yegua, Catalan euga, Galician egua, Portuguese égua, Romanian iapă (with typical velar > labial shift). Occitan has both èga and cavala, with what distinction (semantic or regional or what not) I don’t know. On the other hand, French jument and Italian giumenta < Latin IŪMENTUM ‘beast of burden’ > Italian giumento id., Portuguese jumento ‘donkey’. To the CABALLUS words we can add Esperanto ĉevalo, fem. ĉevalino. German Stute ‘mare’ is from an OHG word for ‘herd of horses’, cognate to English stud, ultimately < PIE *sta- ‘stand’ (stallions still stand to stud in technical language). What gives with Danish and Norwegian hoppe I don’t know.

  25. marie-lucie says:

    Caballus: Etienne, merci. I had always read that caballus was a Celtic word, and I know next to nothing about Celtic, let alone its evolution from PIE. I have Baldi’s Foundations of Latin which lists Celtic borrowings into Latin, but indeed caballus is not among them (nor is it mentioned anywhere in the book). Nevertheless, it looks sort of foreign in Latin.

  26. As for the words for “donkey” listed, I would not be surprised if ALL were borrowed from Latin “Asinus”

    Makes sense, given that the Romans probably encountered the donkey in North Africa, where it was first domesticated. If so, they likely took the word from a Berber or Semitic language, or possibly Egyptian/Coptic. Hebrew אתון aton is she-ass, a word with cognates in Arabic and Aramaic, and, according to BDB ‘As.’ — presumably Assyrian (Akkadian?). T and S(h) sometimes switch, as in English greeting and German Grüßen. (It’s common between Hebrew and Arabic, and Hebrew and Aramaic too.)

    Curiosities: Armenian for donkey is Էշ, es; Azerbaijani for African wild ass is eşşəyi; and Farsi for asinus is استران assran (?). Serbian for donkey is магарац, while Croatian is magarci. Perhaps the latter pair echo English mare.

  27. Serbian for donkey is магарац, while Croatian is magarci. Perhaps the latter pair echo English mare.
    It’s common across the Balkans, incl. Bulgarian and Romanian, and may have resulted from transposition of syllables in Slavic languages: comp. Albanian gomari, Greek γομάρι gomari (also γάιδαρος), presumably from archaic γόμος “load” (for a beast of burden).

  28. anhweol says:

    Etienne –

    is there any theory to explain the discrepancy between the ‘b’ of ‘caballus’ and the ‘-pp-’ which must underlie Welsh ‘ceffyl’ (one would imagine that a form like *’cappallos would be required, from which the Irish ‘capall’ could then be borrowed); the e-y vocalism presumably also requires an -i- in some later syllable (perhaps from a nominative plural form?)?

  29. Farsi for asinus is استران assran (?).

    That’s astarān, plural of astar ‘mule,’ from Old Persian *asa-tara-, which is cognate with Sanskrit aśvatara-.

  30. Poking my way through Pokorny ["scanned and recognized by George Starostin"] [Pages 301-302, Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s (*hek̂u̯o-)], I see:

    1. Horses were often considered the most precioys sacrifice for the sea god. That is why from Root / lemma: akʷā- (correct ǝkʷā): ēkʷ- : `water, river’ derived Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s : `horse’.

    2.Old Indian áśva-ḥ, av. aspa- Old pers. asa- `horse’

    3. gr. ἵππος ds. m. f. (originally without Asper: ῎Αλκ-ιππος etc.). [Don't Greek P and Latin QU at least sometimes correspond? Penta-Quinque?]

    4. toch. A yuk, Gen. yukes, В yakwe `horse’ with prothet. y [Didn't somebody here recently say that Pokorny ignored Tocharian? Or might this be a Starostin addition?]

    5. Ru. kobýla `mare’, then Cz. komoň `horse’

    6. Indo-European reconstruction: kab-n-io-öö {1} (kom-n-io-öö) {2}

    7. References: WP. I 113, WH. I 412 f., 862, Trautmann 72, Schwyzer Gr. Gr. I 68, 301, 351, 499. [Who are WP and WH?]

  31. marie-lucie says:

    PO: 1. Horses were often considered the most precioys sacrifice for the sea god. That is why from Root / lemma: akʷā- (correct ǝkʷā): ēkʷ- : `water, river’ derived Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s : `horse’.

    Hm, I really wonder.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    The differences may be subtle, but in comparative linguistics every little detail counts.

  33. Horses were often considered the most precioys sacrifice for the sea god. That is why from Root / lemma: akʷā- (correct ǝkʷā): ēkʷ- : `water, river’ derived Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s : `horse’.

    That’s the kind of thing that gives comparativism a bad name, if you ask me. It’s exactly as plausible as Watkins’ old attempt to relate ek̂wo- `horse’ to kwon- ‘dog.’

  34. The Mexican equivalent Dos Equis for the Roman XX

    I’m confused. I used to think that the Mexican beer’s name had something to do with horses, but then I thought i learned that it simply meant “two X’s”.

  35. It’s exactly as plausible as Watkins’ old attempt to relate ek̂wo- `horse’ to kwon- ‘dog.’

    Whassa matter? Never heard of a dog and pony show?

    For the record, I too winced on reading that bit. Yet a search for evidence of horse sacrifice found a Wiki entry suggesting that just such a practice existed among the Proto Indo-Europeans. Doesn’t say anything about leading the horses to water though, pre- or post-sacrifice.

    If it’s Calvert Watkins you’re referring to, he rode off into the sunset just over a year ago, on March 20, 2013.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, horse sacrifice was common among some (Proto-)Indo-Europeans, and plenty of graves (such as kurgans) have been found, containing skeletons of horses as well as people, carefully arranged in specific positions. But I have never heard of horses being sacrificed to the god of the sea or even of water in general. Horses in the wild are animals of the open grassy plain, where they can run to their heart’s content, not animals of the seashore unless brought there by humans as domesticates. Sacrificing such animals to a sea god (assuming such a custom did exist) would be a secondary development in one part of the cultural domain, therefore unlikely to lead to a new name for the animal over a large part of the linguistic area, distant from any sea.

    In most areas where animal sacrifice was widely practiced (Rome, Greece, India, among others), sacrificial animals were killed, then burned or roasted and their cooked meat distributed to the priests or other attendees, yet I am not aware that any of the typical sacrifices were called by words related to those for ‘fire’ or ‘food’.

  37. marie-lucie says:

    Caballus > it. cavallo, etc

    The Vocabulario Etimologico della lingua italiana mentions Lat caballus , some Romance derivatives, and also Late Greek kaballés, as well as “slav.” kobyla, kobilica ‘giumenta’ (mare). It mentions that some scholars have linked the words to Sanskrit c’bpala (sic) “rapido” and (from another Indian language) kavahúla ‘cammello’, but does not find these acceptable as cognates. Instead it says that the word is probably from Latium, borrowed from Celtic peoples.

  38. Poking my way through Pokorny ["scanned and recognized by George Starostin"] [Pages 301-302, Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s (*hek̂u̯o-)],”

    Is that the “Pokorny” one finds at the dnghu website? Don’t trust it, someone (Starostin(?)) has added all kind of pseudo-scientific nonsense to the original entries. From what you quote, the parts 1) (the sea-god stuff), 5) and 6) (Slavic kobyla etc and the reconstruction based on them) are not part of the original Pokorny article (IEW 301-302).

    WP is Walde-Pokorny’s “Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen”, the predecessor of the IEW, published 1927-32; WH is Walde-Hofmann’s “Lateinisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch”, which has been called “not an etymological dictionary of Latin, but an Indo-European etymological dictionary sorted by Latin lemmata”.

    The Tocharian comparisons quoted are in the IEW; Pokorny quoted the Tocharian cognates that had been established at the time of the compilation of the IEW, it’s just that the number of securely established Tocharian and Anatolian cognates was still quite small then.

  39. Why doesn’t this comment section have a preview function? I hate publishing my typos and my html failures

  40. Yeah, sorry about that, it’s one of the few losses from moving to WordPress. But I’m always happy to take care of such things after the fact. I’ve fixed what I noticed — let me know if there’s anything else.

  41. Oh, thanks a lot – you’ve caught all of my mistakes.

  42. Anhweol: clearly, linking “caballus” and “ceffyl” involves phonological problems, whether you regard the words as loans or cognates. The fact that the words are found in Brythonic languages (Welsh, Cornish, Breton), which have a large borrowed Latin element, to the exclusion of cognates of Old Irish “ech”, makes it likelier to my mind that they are loanwords from Latin. But as others above have pointed out, there are phonological difficulties whatever one’s preferred scenario is. Thus, I cannot see any way to make the /pp/ which underlies the /f/ of “ceffyl” fit with the /b/ of “caballus”.

    Hat: actually, Watkins’ case for deriving “horse” from “dog” received a boost to my mind when I learned that the Plains Cree word for “horse” is MISTATIM, a compound of MIST “large, big” and ATIM “dog”. Apparently before the arrival of the horse in the Prairies large dogs were used to pull sleds and the like, so to refer to horses as “large dogs” came naturally to speakers of Plains Cree. It might be interesting to take a closer look at how horses were called wherever they were newly introduced, if only in order to properly evaluate how plausible various etymologies of *EKWOS within Proto-Indo-European are.

  43. des von bladet says:

    “In those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ‘em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you’d say.”

  44. Is that the “Pokorny” one finds at the dnghu website? Don’t trust it, someone (Starostin(?)) has added all kind of pseudo-scientific nonsense to the original entries.

    Several years ago I downloaded an html version of “Pokorny.” Your comment prompted a little sleuthing, and it would appear the dnghu site was the source. Thanks for the caveat.

    A copy of the unpolluted work can be downloaded here, which I’m about to do.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne: horse ‘big dog’

    This is not limited to Plains Cree, it also occurs in several languages in North America, at least. Calling the newly introduced horse ‘big dog’ makes sense because of the link to traditional transportation, and those words for ‘horse’ are of recent enough vintage to be quite clearly analyzable. But the circumstances of horse-human interaction in America a few centuries ago and in Eurasia during the PIE period are vastly different. There were dogs but no horses in America at the time of “contact”, the earlier horses on the continent having disappeared long before humans crossed over (by whatever means). When horses appeared, it was in the company and under the control of humans. In Eurasia the dog had been domesticated long before the horse, but herds of wild horses were a familiar sight at least on the plains. Surely there were words for ‘horse’ (including specialized ones depending on age and sex) long before the horse was used for any human purpose (except probably for food). As an example, IE languages have words for ‘deer’, ‘doe’ and ‘fawn’ even though these animals do not live with humans and are only sought by them as sources of meat (and possibly leather).

  46. Whoops. That link is to “Vol 2.” It seems that archive.org has arranged its viewable/downloadable copies in three “volumes,” though my recollection is that the dictionary was published as a single tome. Change the numeral in the URL to 1 or 3 to access the complete work. (This is a scan of the original, with the strengths and weaknesses that implies.)

  47. Thanks very much for that — I had no idea Pokorny was freely available, and now I have my own pdf copy!

  48. Surely there were words for ‘horse’ (including specialized ones depending on age and sex) long before the horse was used for any human purpose (except probably for food). As an example, IE languages have words for ‘deer’, ‘doe’ and ‘fawn’ even though these animals do not live with humans and are only sought by them as sources of meat (and possibly leather).
    OTOH it isn’t impossible for a language to also have different names for domesticated breeds and wild animals, or for domesticated subtypes used for different purposes? Names for the dogs show frequent examples of replacement sweeps…
    But if we take Al-Magar excavation results at the face value (pictures e.g. here) then we ought to assume that horses or horse-like animals like perhaps onagers have been used by the humans for transportation millennia before the mass-scale domestication in the Steppes North of Black and Caspian seas… so the idea of bridling horses wasn’t a total novelty for the humankind when the humans finally got it right on a wide scale?

  49. marie-lucie says:

    Dmitry, I am not an expert, but you might look up this site:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestication_of_the_horse

    which seems quite comprehensive and also lists a number of references. Nowhere is an equivalency or even a similarity suggested between ‘dog’ and ‘horse’.

    The earliest written reference to a horse seems to be from Sumerian where the name meant ‘ass of the mountains’ (‘mountains’ here probably meaning ‘wilderness’, as opposed to both cultivated areas and deserts). This was at a time of horses being used for riding, which was followed by the period of chariot warfare.

  50. Yes, you can imagine that the human historical geneticists are very interested in the horse domestication too, given the role the horse should have played in the expansions of peoples. All evidence points to much later domestication of horses than of almost all domestic animals of value, and especially the dogs. The reason I mentioned Al-Magar (have you scrolled the article down to the intriguing figurine pictures?) is that it *might” move the dates of domestication further into the past (like 9 kya) if it pans out – which still leaves the horse a relative newcomer in the roster of domesticated mammals of Eurasia. Alas, there hasn’t been any work of note on ancient horse DNA from bones / teeth, and such a work in the future is certain to bring much more clarity!

  51. I had no idea Pokorny was freely available, and now I have my own pdf copy!

    People post the most wonderful links here. You should visit this site more often!

    There are many more old dictionaries at archive.org. Not long ago I downloaded an English translation of Kluge’s etymological dictionary of German. (The first letter of the headwords is in Blackletter, which means more care when searching, but it’s still a great book to have.)

  52. marie-lucie says:

    Actually, I had barely noticed that you had a link, and only read it just now. after your second comment I wonder if the 9000 years date is correct? If so, it pushes back a lot more things than just the domestication of the horse, given the evidence of artifacts and techniques found at Al-Magar.

  53. mountains’ here probably meaning ‘wilderness’

    A possible parallel in the Semitic languages that would strengthen the connection:
    Arabic jabal or jebel means mountain (cf Lameen’s site Jabal al-Lughat / Climbing the Mountain of Languages). Hebrew gvul means border, as does gubulim in Punic.

  54. David Marjanović says:

    As for the words for “donkey” listed, I would not be surprised if ALL were borrowed from Latin “Asinus” (with a phonologically irregular shift from /n/ to /l/ for some of them)

    I’ve seen the /l/ blamed on a diminutive asellus (no idea if it’s attested). I’m not sure if that could explain the umlaut in German, though.

    Serbian for donkey is магарац, while Croatian is magarci.

    No, the latter is the singular of the former.

    1. Horses were often considered the most precioys sacrifice for the sea god. That is why from Root / lemma: akʷā- (correct ǝkʷā): ēkʷ- : `water, river’ derived Root / lemma: ek̂u̯o-s : `horse’.

    What… no. The “aqua” word cannot even be reconstructed for PIE.

    The “equus” word might be related to “swift” (“traditionally reconstructed as *ōḱú-, with an initial *ō which conceals some puzzling combination of PIE vowels and laryngeals, not yet unravelled to everyone’s satisfaction”, from the link above), or it might be a loan from something closely related to Proto-Caucasian that had lost nasal consonants in front of affricates; the Proto-Caucasian reconstruction for “horse” is */ɦɨ(ː)nt͡ʃwi/ (and/or */-e/), which might explain the phonetically weird *[kʲw] cluster in the PIE version. Source: the following fascinating paper (mostly footnote 72 on p. 426), of which I once downloaded the pdf even though neither Google nor Google Scholar find it anymore.
    A. Kassian (2010): Hattic [!!!] as a Sino-Caucasian language. Ugarit-Forschungen 41: 309–447.

    The earliest written reference to a horse seems to be from Sumerian where the name meant ‘ass of the mountains’ (‘mountains’ here probably meaning ‘wilderness’, as opposed to both cultivated areas and deserts)

    Or perhaps “donkey from beyond the mountains”?

  55. Alexei Kassian’s paper on Hattic is available here. I’m sure we discussed Kassian’s position on LH before when mulling the Atkinsian analysis suggesting that the PIE homeland was to the South of the Black Sea rather than in the steppes to the North. (I already linked to Kasian’s blog entry about horse-words and wheel-words back then, but his blog is in Russian). A bit longer snippet from his Hattic paper:

    Gimbutas’ Pontic-Caspian steppe model (the kurgan theory), placing the IE homeland to the east of Dniepr, appears precluded due to a significant number of Proto-Narrow IE (or even Proto-Indo-Hittite) roots and stems denoting forest, various trees, hills/mountains together with numerous agricultural and stockbreeding terms which is strikingly opposite to the absence of typical steppe vocabulary…

    The non-steppe homeland of the Indo-Europeans can also be proven by the fact, noted in Старостин, 1988/2007, 315 f., Starostin, 2009, 80, that IE *ekwo- ‘horse’ (which can be not a Narrow IE, but Indo-Hittite term, see the discussion in EDHIL, 237 ff. [A. Kloekhorst: Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon. Leiden, 2008]) seems to be borrowed from an ancient language of the NCauc. stock discussed above, cf. its NCauc. descendant *ɦɨ[n]čw ĭ (~-ĕ) ‘horse’ …

    From the archaeological viewpoint, M. Gimbutas’ mounted warriors from the steppes, who sweep away Chalcolithic “Old Europe”, also appear a myth—see the extended discussion in Kohl, 2007, 51, 126–144.

    BTW I was reading on very different topic (“Could Paleolithic paintings have been a cartoon strip-like, narrative series of visual snapshots”) and it made me realize that wild horses have been quite familiar to the inhabitants of Europe before 30 thousand years ago.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    <i.wild horses have been quite familiar to the inhabitants of Europe before 30 thousand years ago.

    I am not qualified to evaluate dates, but it seems obvious to me that indeed the early inhabitants of the grassy areas of Europe must have been quite familiar with herds of wild horses (and other equines) long before taming/domestication.

  57. If nothing else, horses were certainly food animals, as indeed they continue to be in parts of Europe.

  58. In the Hattic paper there is the following remark (section 2.1.1):

    Attested Hattic chronologically is more ancient than the late Proto-WCauc. language by almost 1000 years. Therefore it is possible to compare Hattic forms
    only with the WCauc. forms which can be assuredly reconstructed for the Proto-WCauc. level.

    (I have deleted a comma after “WCauc. forms” which almost certainly is a result of L2 interference and confuses the issue.)

    The author proceeds to quote some 18th-century proposals for cognates between Russian and German that are pretty clearly bogus. But as far as I can see there is no justification for the “Therefore”. There is no reason why a shared Slavic-Germanic term (or let us say a PIE term) could not surface only in Russian and in German. It will be less secure than one with other cognates in Slavic and/or Germanic languages, but not logically impossible.

  59. David Marjanović says:

    It will be less secure than one with other cognates in Slavic and/or Germanic languages, but not logically impossible.

    It’ll be so much less secure that it would be very weak evidence that PIE ever existed in the first place. Thus, when Bengtson or (God forbid!) Ruhlen do such “reaching down”, their colleagues roll their eyes or worse. Similarly, Kassian argues, Hattic words shouldn’t be compared to forms in individual West Caucasian languages of today; after all, Hattic was spoken “almost 1000 years” before Proto-West-Caucasian must have been. He just overstates it a bit.

  60. But the existence of PIE (or WC) is not in doubt. Consider the pre-Hittite version of IE (“core IE”), which was a well-established language family. If a feature exists in German and Russian alone of the core IE languages, it might be a core PIE feature or it might be coincidence: certainly it would not be justified to reconstruct it for core PIE on such slender evidence. But if it were also found in some Anatolian language then it would count as evidence for Proto-Indo-Hittite as well as core PIE.

  61. David Marjanović says:

    But the existence of PIE (or WC) is not in doubt.

    The position of Hattic is in doubt, and that’s the point of the paper.

  62. Of course Hattic’s position is in doubt. We seem to be talking past one another.

    My point is that to establish IE as a family and to reconstruct PIE, we look at data from the languages we think are IE languages. We do not have to reconstruct PGmc, PSlav, PItal, etc. etc. first. Indeed Piotr has argued that such reconstructions on reconstructions are methodologically unsound.

  63. marie-lucie says:

    JC: My point is that to establish IE as a family and to reconstruct PIE, we look at data from the languages we think are IE languages. We do not have to reconstruct PGmc, PSlav, PItal, etc. etc. first. Indeed Piotr has argued that such reconstructions on reconstructions are methodologically unsound.

    Having had to wrestle with similar points myself (not in IE), I entirely agree with you and Piotr. Insisting on “reconstructions on reconstructions” supposes that the first reconstructions are valid, something which cannot be taken for granted if the reconstructors (and the amount of relevant data) have been too few for a consensus to evolve. Even PIE, reconstructed through the work of dozens if not hundreds of linguists over two centuries and more, had to be re-reconstructed when more data came to light.

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