Publication details

Indo-European ‘bear’

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Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Historische Sprachforschung
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Indo-European; zoological terminology; semantic motivation; "bear"
Description In the present study designations of “bear” are collected in all Indo-European branches, where they are known, to analyze them from the point of view of their internal phonological and morphological structure, semantic motivation, and etymology. The terms with more or less transparent semantic motivation can help with interpretation of less transparent terms. It seems, the most frequent semantic pattern in designation of “bear” in Western Eurasia is motivated by a more than positive relation of the bear to honey. This idea is applied to the most wide-spread Indo-European term for “bear”, reconstructible as *H2rtk'o- or *H2rdk'o- and whose traces are recognizible even in branches, where the dominant term was replaced by innovations. If this solution is correct, the term *H2rtk'o- or *H2rdk'o also represents an innovative designation, which once replaced a hypothetical primary term, perhaps for similar tabuistic reasons, why *H2rtk'o- or *H2rdk'o was replaced in Germanic and Balto-Slavic. This conclusion also excludes the proposed external relatives, but it is not surprising with regard to their problematic argumentation, in one case even existence.
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