Monday, July 11, 2011

About colts and onagers

An interesting word when it comes to determining the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European language is the English word colt ‘young of horse’. In general no PIE word for ‘colt’ is reconstructed because of the phonetic incoherence of lexical data:
- Germanic: English colt ‘a one-to-four-year-old foal’, Old Norse kult ‘foal, young man’,
- Indo-Iranian: Farsi kurre ‘foal’, Indo-Aryan kišora ‘foal’ (< *kik'eul-),
- Hittite kurka ‘foal’, with Iranian phonetics. 
These incoherent words have an Altaic origin as shown by the following potential cognates:
- Turkic *qulun, *qulum ‘foal’,
- Mongolian *qulan ‘onager’ Equus hemionus,
- Old Japanese kwoma ‘colt’ < (?) *kul-ma,
- Chinese gòu ‘colt, poney’ < *k_loH with unknown first vowel. 

The absence of this “word” *kul- in Pokorny (1959) or Mallory-Adams (2006) is logical: the correspondence of Germanic k ~ Iranian k ~ Indo-Aryan š makes little sense. It should be: h ~ s ~ š. This word is a wanderwort of Altaic origin.

It can be added that Caucasic also seems to have received this wanderwort: Tsezi, Ginukh gulu ‘horse’; Chechen, Ingush gowr ‘horse’. To these words can also be added Farsi gur and Hindi khur ‘onager, wild ass’. The area where wild onagers are attested certainly cannot be the homeland of PIE as the name of the onager *qul was incoherently borrowed at least twice: for colts, and then for onagers properly. 

Best. A.

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