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Language as a Clue to Prehistory

lpetrich

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Then Sino-Caucasian: North Caucasian, Yeniseian, and Sino-Tibetan. Sometimes extended with Basque, Burushaski, and Na-Dene, giving Dene-Caucasian. Of these, the original homelands of Yeniseian, Central Siberia, and Na-Dene, Beringia, are very unsuitable for agriculture. But Proto-Sino-Tibetan has some agricultural vocabulary and Proto-North-Caucasian a lot of it. But the agricultural vocabulary of Sino-Caucasian is very weak and doubtful.

The most success is with Basque and North Caucasian (Euskaro-Caucasian). It's hard to find much, but some correspondences are phonetically and semantically very good. There is also a lot of non-Indo-European substrate vocabulary in the Indo-European languages of Europe, and some of it seems to be related to Basque and North Caucasian. This suggests that the expansion of farmers into Europe in the early Holocene was of speakers of some Euskaro-Caucasian language, with Indo-European a later overlay.

Then discussing Afro-Asiatic (or Afroasiatic).

The deepest split in it is between (Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Chadic) and (Cushitic, Omotic). The first part is North African and Middle Eastern, and the second part East African; Somali is a Cushitic language.

There isn't much evidence of agriculture-related cognates across Afro-Asiatic, meaning that the Proto-Afro-Asiatic speakers were unfamiliar with it.  Afroasiatic homeland - mentions a proposed homeland in eastern Ethiopia about 10,000 years ago. That's far from the Middle East. An offshoot moved northward to Egypt, then an offshoot of that one to the Levant and became the speakers of Proto-Semitic. So what happened to Europe also happened to the Middle East - an original population of farmers became conquered by people from their peripheries.
As an interesting curio, it could be instructive to mention a recent study (Agmon & Bloch 2013) that used statistical methods to ascertain that various terms reflecting hunting and foraging activities in Semitic tend to be shorter, i.e. are more frequently represented by archaic biconsonantal roots than agricultural terms, which, conversely, tend to be almost always represented by longer, triconsonantal roots. If this study checks out through detailed etymological research, this could be a serious argument in favor of a relatively late origin of agricultural terminology for ancestors of Proto-Semitic. For now, we simply have to accept the fact that a lot of research on various subgroups of Afroasiatic is still necessary in order to properly resolve the issue – and that, for the moment, strong evidence for agriculture in Proto-Afroasiatic is non-existent.
So we conclude that early Semitic speakers started out with lots of two-consonant roots and then extended many of them to form three-consonant ones. Something like Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Slavic speakers inventing verb-aspect systems.
 

Swammerdami

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Unfortunately, all these protolanguages split up at most by 5 - 6 thousand years ago, far too recent for agriculture.

The languages of the first farmers might have disappeared long ago, with their only surviving evidence being contributed agricultural vocabulary.

So we must turn to less well-established language families, families that go much farther back in time, like Nostratic and Afro-Asiatic.

Indo-European is the only well-established language family as old as 5000-6000 years old. It has been pushed back so far only due to evidence far greater than for any other language family: a plethora of descendant languages, and written texts that are much more than 3000 years old.

In addition to some of the ancient languages lpetrich mentions, Basque, North Caucasian and Burushaski may have had a common ancestor. Here is an excerpt from
This excerpt shows words associated with farming. Other word lists in this or other Bengtson papers show cognates for domesticated animals.

• Basque *gari / *gal- ‘wheat’80 = Cauc: Tindi q’:eru, Lezgi q:ül ‘wheat’, etc.81
• Basque *(gara-)ga ‘barley’82 = Cauc: Rutul q’ir ‘winter wheat’, Agul q’ir ~ q’ur ‘grain’83 = Burushaski *gur ‘wheat’.
• Basque: *bihi ‘grain, seed, kernel’84 = Cauc: Godoberi beč’in ‘rye’, Tindi beč’in ‘barley’, etc.85
• Basque *sikirio ‘rye’86 = Cauc: Rutul sɨk’ɨl ‘rye’, Khinalug sɨlg-li ‘rye’, etc.87
• Basque *olho ‘oats’, *alho ‘wild oats’88 = Cauc: Kabardian xₙə ‘millet’ < PWC *λₙə id.89
• Basque *arto ‘maize’ (earlier ‘millet’) = Cauc: Avar ro: ‘wheat’, Agul jerg ‘oats’, etc.90
• Basque *ilha- ‘vetch, peas, beans’91 = Cauc: Tsez hil ‘pea(s)’, Avar holó ‘bean(s)’, etc.92

Most impressive, in my opinion, is a whole suite of Basque agricultural terms, involving soil tilling and preparation, harvesting, threshing, sifting, and grinding, that have close Caucasian and Burushaski counterparts:
• Basque *laia ‘two-pronged fork (used for loosening and turning soil)’ 93 = Cauc: Bezhta ƛaχ-dami ‘rake’, etc.94
• Basque *haincu ‘hoe, spade’95 = Cauc: Chechen ästa ‘hoe, mattock’, Akhwakh ʕerc:e ‘wooden plow’, etc.96 = Burushaski *harṣ ‘plow’
• Basque *arhe ‘harrow’97 = Cauc: Avar ʁár-ize ‘to harrow’, Lezgi ʁar ‘harrow’, etc.98
• Basque *laain ‘threshing floor’99 = Cauc: Archi ƛorom ‘threshing board’, Andi loli ‘threshing, threshing floor’, etc. 100 = Burushaski *daltán- ‘to thresh’ < *rVŁV-n-.
• Basque *bahe ‘sieve’101 = Cauc: Tsakhur wex:ʷa ‘sieve’, Lak =ihi- ‘to filter’, etc.102
• Basque *eiho ‘to grind’ / *eihera ‘mill’103 = Cauc: Chechen aħ- ‘grind’ / ħer ‘mill’, Ingush ħajra ‘mill’, Lak ha=a- ‘grind’ / hara-qalu ‘mill’, etc. 104 = Burushaski *-hor- ‘to grind’.

The linguistic evidence presented here indicates that the western Dene-Caucasian speakers of ca. 7500 years ago (linguistic ancestors of the present-day Basques, North Caucasians, and Burushos) had a well-developed Neolithic pastoral-agricultural culture, including the husbandry of large and small cattle and the cultivation and milling of cereal grains and some other crops such as pulses.
How do we know that the Basques did not simply adopt these Dene-Caucasian Neolithic terms as loanwords, while retaining the rest of their original language intact? In fact the Neolithic terms have the same phonology and morphology as the most basic parts of the Basque lexicon.
For example, in Basque *olho ‘oats’ = PNC *λwʔwV ‘millet’ we see the same correspondence of Basque aspirated lateral (*lh) to PNC lateral fricative (*λ) as in Basque *e-lhu- ‘snow’105 = PEC *jĭwλV / *λĭwV ‘snow’, and ‘snow’ can hardly be considered a cultural word that is easily borrowed.106 Likewise, the phonological relationship between Basque *behi ‘cow’ and Andi buc’:ir ‘cattle’ is parallel to that of Basque *minhi ‘tongue’ = Andi mic’:i ‘tongue’,107 one of the most basic words in any language. Morphologically, the relationship between Basque *eiho ‘to grind’ (verb) and *eihera ‘mill’ (noun) is the same as that between Ingush aħ- ‘to grind’ and ħajra ‘mill’. The Basque allomorphs seen in *ahari / *ahal- ‘ram’ and *gari / *gal- ‘wheat’ are entirely parallel to those of the basic *heugari / *heugal- ‘abundant,
copious’ / to increase, multiply’ (cf. Tsez =eχora ‘long’, Akushi χala-l ‘big’, etc. < PNC *HāχułV / *HālχV ‘long, big’), and so on. In other words, there is no linguistic reason to suppose that Basque words for domestic animals, cultivated plants, and food-processing belong to a different or later layer than the most basic words (e.g., words for ‘blood, bone, tongue, tooth, horn’, etc.)
discussed above (page 161).

It is, IMO, a misconception that Basque is the residue of an old hunter-gatherer language of West Europe. Farmers arrived in Spain shortly after 6000 BC and the pre-Neolithic languages were long gone by the time of Julius Caesar. Basque arrived from the Eastern Mediterranean, probably via the Impressed Ware/Cardial Ware expansion. This expansion was driven by sea-faring adventurers, rather than mainly cultural diffusion. One can see remnants of Y-haplogroup G-PF3177 in isolated places like Sardinia. (Note that this is a DIFFERENT clade from the large majority of G's in Western Europe today (G-PF3345), who arrived with the Alan tribes during the decline of the Roman Empire.)

This links the early Neolithic language of Western Europe — proto-Basque — to an early Neolithic language in the Fertile Crescent. (Later arrivals like Hittite, Iranian, Semitic drove the early farming language sibling to proto-Basque into the Caucusus mountains.)

Burushaski — an isolate found only near the mountainous Hindu Kush — is also linked to this Basque-Caucasian family! The language of the Harappan civilization is unknown, but Burushaski has been proposed as a possibility; migration from the Tigris River area seems plausible.
 

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Yes indeed - Notes on some Pre-Greek words in relation to Euskaro-Caucasian (North Caucasian + Basque)

Working from Beekes - The Pre-Greek loans in Greek
Noting lots of phonological features that are atypical of Indo-European.
 Pre-Greek substrate - good place to start. Here's a fun one: words for noisemakers that end with -nx, -ngg-

salpinx: trumpet / syrinx: panpipes, flute / phorrminx: lyre / larynx: voice box, throat / pharynx: throat

Category:Greek terms derived from Pre-Greek - Wiktionary - Wiktionary is a remarkably comprehensive resource

-

 Germanic substrate hypothesis
Non-Indo-European root nouns in Germanic: evidence in support of the Agricultural Substrate Hypothesis - sust266_kroonen.pdf
Category: Proto-Germanic terms derived from substrate languages - Wiktionary
Germanic words of non-Indo-European origin - Linguistics - Eupedia

 Goidelic substrate hypothesis - for the Gaelic languages
The substratum in Insular Celtic


Category:Terms derived from substrate languages - Wiktionary - look under the Proto- ones
 
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lpetrich

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The pre-Indo-European substrate languages of Europe had a feature that shows up in a lot of substrate words: variations in initials, like a- being present only some of the time.

John Bengton and Camilla Leschber conclude that they are fossilized noun-class prefixes, and that Basque also has them.

The North Caucasian languages have various systems of noun-class prefixes, and the language of the first Anatolian and European farmers thus likely also had such prefixes.

 Northeast Caucasian languages and N-D Noun Class lectures - N-D Noun Class lectures.pdf
Noun classes have agreement not only with adjectives and verbs, but also with adverbs and various function words.

The number of noun classes varies from 2 to 8.
  • Tabasaran (northern): 2 (human vs. non-human)
  • Avar, Dargwa, and most Andic languages: 3 (male rational, female rational, non-human)
  • Lak, Tsez, Hinukh, the Lezgic languages with noun classes: 4
    • Lak: male rational; (mature) female rational; animate; inanimate
    • Archi: male rational; female rational; complex division for remaining nouns
    • Tsez: male rational; female rational + inanimates; animates & inanimates; inanimates
  • Chamalal, Hunzib, Khwarshi: 5
    • Hunzib: male rational; female rational; animates and inanimates spread across other three classes (Forker 2014)
  • Chechen, Ingush: (traditionally) 6
  • Batsbi (Tsova-Tush): (traditionally) 8
But three of the Batsbi classes, VI to VIII, have only 20 words among them. Table of Batsbi (Tsova-Tush) classes:
ClassSingularPlural
Iv-b-Mostly male: stak' 'man', dad 'father', mar 'husband', ...
IIy-d-Mostly female: nan 'mother,' pst'u 'wife', johh 'daughter', ...
IIId-d-Largest class: bader 'child', dok' 'heart', ...
IVy-y-2nd largest class: tsark' 'tooth', q'ar 'rain', ...
Vb-d-phhu 'dog', cha 'bear', matkh 'Sun', ...
VIb-y-bak 'fish', b\ark 'eye', kok' 'leg', ...
VIId-y-bat'r 'lip', lark' 'ear', t'ot' 'hand', ...
VIIIb-b-borag 'knit slipper', kakam 'wool cut in fall', ...
 
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lpetrich

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Usually fewer plural noun classes than singular ones. For instance:
  • Godobery: (male, female), (nonhuman)
  • Hinukh: (male, female), (animals, inanimate I, inanimate II)
  • Bezhta (Tliadal dialect): (male, female), (amimals+inanimate, inanimate I), (inanimate II)
Proto-Nakh-Daghestanian (Northeast Caucasian) (Johanna Nichols):
  • v/() - male human
  • j/r - female human
  • b - many animates
  • d/r - inanimates (chiefly)
  • j - various nonhuman

Tsez:
ClassSingularPluralWhat's in it
I()-b-Male: human, divine
IIy-r-Female: human, divine; some inanimates
IIIb-r-Animals, some inanimates
IVr-r-Other inanimates
So Tsez has only two plural classes: sentient male and everything else.

The paper then considered how nouns for inanimates are assigned to classes II, III, and IV. For instance, vehicles are often in class III, so that class may mean "mobile entities". But abstract nouns are in all three, with those ending in -tli and -ni in IV.
 

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To add to my previous post, inanimate nouns beginning with y-, b-, and r- are in noun classes II, III, and IV.

Gender Affixation on Caucasian verbs - An_Overview_of_Gender_Agreement_Affixes_in_the_Caucasus.pdf
Genders in the Caucasus are usually marked on verbs and adjectives by affixation

Almost all the languages differentiate masculine and feminine (except e.g. Tabasaran (Babaliyeva 2013)), and they also make a disctinction between human and non-human. The core of both the NEC and NWC systems is therefore:

– Masculine (Class I, in the noun class tradition)
– Feminine (Class II)
– Non-human (Class III)
– + Various inanimate genders

The largest NEC systems have up to six genders, i.e. Chechen, Ingush and Andi (Nichols 1994; Nichols 2011; Salimov 2010).
Two NEC languages' gender systems:

Dargwa (Daghestanian)
ClassSingularPluralWhat's in it
Iw-b-Male human
IIr-b-Female human
IIIb-d-Nonhuman
Chechen (Nakh):
ClassSingularPluralWhat's in it
Iv-b-Male Human
IIy-b-Female Human
IIIb-b-Nonhuman I
IVb-d-Nonhuman II
Vd-d-Nonhuman III
VIy-y-Nonhuman IV
 

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Turning to Northwest Caucasian languages, they have very similar gender systems. Here, the verb prefixes vary by person.
Class2nd3rd abs3rd ergWhat's in it
Iw-d-y-Male human singular
IIb-d-l-Female human singular
IIIw-y-a/n-Nonhuman singular
I, II, IIIshw-y-r/d-Plural
abs = absolutive case (subjects of intransitive verbs), erg = ergative case (subjects of transitive verbs)

The rest of the article was mainly about trying to find patterns, like b- being very common, y- and r- being common feminine markers, w/v- being common masculine markers, and d- being a common inanimate marker.
 

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Shevoroshkin (ed.) - Proto-Languages and Proto-Cultures (1990)_text.pdf

ETRUSCAN AS AN EAST CAUCASIAN LANGUAGE - Vladimír Orel and Sergei Starostin

Building on such work as
I.M. Diakonoff and S.A. Starostin. Hurro-Urartian as an Eastern Caucasian Language. Miinchen, 1985

East Caucasian ~ Northeast Caucasian

Also mentions Hattic ~ Northwest Caucasian (Abkhaz–Adyghe)

Etr. esera moon (?)' - PEC 'šVIHV- moonlight, light (cf. Urart. sél-ard moon, the Moon-goddess).

Here's a plausible comparison:

σέλας - Wiktionary - selas "light, brightness, the bright flame or blaze of fire; shine (n.)"

σελήνη - Wiktionary - selênê "Moon" (Doric selânâ, Aeolic selânnâ).
 

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Euskaro- Caucasian Hypothesis: Current model (2017): | John D Bengtson - Academia.edu - looks like a set of slides

John D. Bengtson & Corinna Leschber 2019. Notes on Euskaro-Caucasian (Vasconic) Substratum in western Indo-European Languages. WEKWOS 5, Revue d' études Indo-européennes. R. Garnier, X. Delamarre, Les Cent Chemins, Arles: Éditions Errance, 11-50. | Corinna Leschber - Academia.edu

Proposes several that Latin has several Euskaro-Caucasian substrate words like baculum "stick, staff", bacillum "short stick" (Basque *mak-, Proto-North-Caucasian bhhänq.V "pole, post"), bucca "cheek" (Basque *beko "forehead", PEC *bek.wo "part of face, mouth"), câseus "cheese" (Basque *gastana "cheese", PEC *tsâk.wV "sour, raw"), cîmex "bedbug" (Basque *tSimitSa "bedbug", *tSimiri- "butterfly", PNC *ZimiZa "kind of stinging insect"), fovea "pit", fâvissae "vaults, underground chambers" (Basque *hobi "grave, tomb", PEC *fiwi / *fibi "grave"), pîla "squared pillar, column" (Basque *Hapal "shelf, benchtop, platform", PEC */apVtlV "board, cover, pole")
 

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Then mentions some Germanic examples, like Proto-Germanic *hakô (masc. an-stem) "hook" (Basque kako, gako "hook", PEC *k.wäk.e "edge, point, corner") - Wiktionary lists some PIE etymologies for some of them.

Then some Balkan and Slavic examples, like Proto-Slavic *kuka "hook"

Then discussing how a- is sometimes present and sometimes absent in many substratum words and in Basque.

"In phonetics of substratal words, there seems to be a recurrent loan correspondence of IE velars to Euskaro-Caucasian sibilant affricates."

Like PGmc *sagjaz "sedge", Russian osoka "sedge", PEC *SertSV "sedge, ..."

Then a listing of such cognates as

Bean: PGmc *baunô, Latin faba, PSlav *bobu, Basque *baba

Chickpea, pea: Old Saxon erwit, Latin eruum, Greek erebinthos, orobos, Basque *garbancu (>garbanzo), (PNC *qorhhâ)
 

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John Bengtson then goes into detail about Euskaro-Caucasian.

Lexical: "ear", "tongue", "fire", "star", 'dog"

Grammatical:
  • Oblique stem marker -ri-
  • Basque has fossilized class markers: *be-/*bi-, *e-/*i-, *o-/*u-, *a-, productive in NC languages. Answering Larry Trask's 1996 question "Pre-Basque clearly had an extraordinarily large proportion of lexical items beginning with a vowel, and ... only a very few word-initial consonants. Why is this so?"
  • Verbs: participial suffix -tV (Basque, Archi)
  • Ablaut: *o ~ *a

Then some Basque - NC sound correspondences.
 

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Euskaro_Caucasian_2_pp.pdf - Another online copy of John Bengtson's 2017 presentation on Euskaro-Caucasian.

Has a map that shows "Extinct Euskaro-Caucasian Languages" and the present distribution of Basque and North Caucasian. From east to west, Urartian, Hurrian, Hattic, "Pelasgian" (pre-Greek), Rhaetic, Etruscan, some south Italian and Sardinian ones, Aquitanian (expanded Basque), and Galician (not the present-day Romance language). He didn't name them in the text, however, and he neglected Lemnian. But he does say
Several extinct languages, most clearly Aquitanian, in southern France, and Paleo-Sardinian; possible traces of extinct Euskaro-Caucasian languages (based on studies of substratum words) are suspected in other areas: southeastern France, the Alps, southern Italy, and the Balkans. Due to scarcity of evidence, the extinct languages are ignored in the rest of this presentation.

Then grammatical evidence, like these noun-case suffixes: genitive (of) *-n, dative (to) *-i, dative, (al)lative (toward) *-lV, locative (in) *-d-/*-t-, *-tSV, instrumental/ergative (with) *-s, *-k'V, locative series (in, ...) *-g-

Then on Basque having frozen noun-class prefixes.

Then words for: die, dog, ear, fire, horn, I, know, thou, tongue, tooth, two, what. Also resolving some Basque etymological mysteries.

Then some Basque - North Caucasian correspondences in agricultural vocabulary: domestic animals, milk and milk products, grains and legumes and milling.

Then quoting “... Sardinians and Basques are the two modern populations with the highest genetic proportion of early farmer ancestry. ... This suggests the Basque might be the remnant of a much larger Vasconic speaking area, suggesting a possibility that language family spread along with the first farmers.”

That shared vocabulary is consistent with descent from Neolithic farmers.
 

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ἀψίνθιον - Wiktionary - apsinthion "wormwood / absinthe plant"

This -nth- suffix is found in terminthos "terebinth" (>"turpentine"), erebinthos "chickpea", minthê "mint", huakinthos "hyacinth", plinthos "brick" (>"plinth": "foundation block"), mêrinthos "cord, line", kêrinthus "bee bread", laburinthos "labyrinth", and also in personal names like Rhadamanthys (u-stem) and place names like Corinth (Korinthos) and Tiryns (consonant-stem: -uns, -unth-) - most of these words are o-stem words.

So for Pre-Greek, we have -nth-, -ss-, and -ng- suffixes.

ἐρέβινθος - Wiktionary - chickpea
notes similarity to
ὄροβος - Wiktionary - bitter vetch (has lentil-like seeds). Also Latin ervum (same), Proto-Germanic *arwîts "pea" (Dutch erwt, German Erbse).
 

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From ETRUSCAN AS AN EAST CAUCASIAN LANGUAGE Vladimír Orel and Sergei Starostin
from Shevoroshkin (ed.) - Proto-Languages and Proto-Cultures (1990)_text
at the Internet Archive, I've found another one:

Etr. matu wine - PEC *mHädwV- spirits

This looks a lot like English "mead", so I looked further. It's an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey: honey wine.

That's from Proto-Germanic *meduz, in turn from PIE *medhu "honey, mead" - Reconstruction: Proto-Indo-European/médʰu - Wiktionary - with lots of descendants, like Greek methu "wine" and Proto-Slavic *medvedi "bear (animal)" (<"honey eater")

It has descendants in Anatolian, Tocharian, Celtic, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Hellenic, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian, and those descendants fit the sound correspondence for reconstructed PIE *dh.

It also includes among descendants Proto-Northeast Caucasian: *mHädwV (“type of beverage; liquor”) with source
Starostin, S. A. (2007), “Indo-European among other language families: problems of dating, contacts and genetic relationships”, in Starostin, G. S., editor, Trudy po jazykoznaniju [Proceedings in Linguistics]‎ (in Russian), Moscow: Jazyki slavjanskix kulʹtur, →ISBN, page 818: “...or *mHädwV ʽa k. of beverage, liquorʼ”
I think it likely that the word went in the other direction, from Euskaro-Caucasian to the PIE speakers, with NEC and Etruscan being descended from Eu-Ca.

Checking on the domestication of honeybees, I find Widespread exploitation of the honeybee by early Neolithic farmers | Nature Roffet-Salque_et_al_2015_Nature - Roffet_Salque_et_al_2015_Nature.pdf

"The detection of beeswax in archaeological and historic contexts rests on its complex chemistry providing a unique and relatively recalcitrant chemical signature." - "The oldest evidence for beeswax comes from Neolithic sites in Anatolia dating from the seventh millennium cal BC, as these sites are the locations of the oldest pottery vessels in Europe and Eurasia."

However, the article did not discuss how far along bee domestication was by then. Did these farmers make beehives? Or did they only do honey hunting? That is, looking for hives in places like hollow tree trunks.

So I checked on the various Indo-European words for bee. English "bee" is from PGmc *bijôn, in turn from PIE *bhey- along with Baltic and Indo-Iranian. Proto-Slavic *bitSela has an obscure origin, as does Latin apis (Romance forms are mostly from diminutive apicula "little bee"). Greek melissa, melitta is possibly from PIE *melit "honey" and *leygh- "to lick".

PIE *melit "honey" has several descendants, like Latin mel "honey" and Greek meli "honey", and English "honey" is from PGmc *hunagan, in turn from PIE *knh2onks (not many descendants).
 

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Also at the Internet Archive under "Shevoroshkin" is
Shevoroshkin & Sidwell (eds.) - Historical Linguistics and Lexicostatistics (1999)_text.pdf

with article COMPILING WORDS FROM EXTINCT NON-INDOEUROPEAN LANGUAGES IN EUROPE by Harald Sverdrup and Ramon Guardans

The Numbers List at Mark Rosenfelder's site, zompist.com - Proto-North-Caucasian was under Caucasian, but for Basque, Etruscan, and Hurrian, I had to look under Dravidian. I also added this paper's forms, with - in front of the name.
Language12345678910
Proto-North-Caucasian*cHə̆*q̣Hwǟ*ś̱wimHV*hěmq̣ɨ*f̱ɦä̆*ʔrǟnƚE*ʔěrŁ̱ĭ-*bǖnŁ̱e*ʔĭlč̣wɨ*ʔěnc̣E
Ancient Basque*bade*biga*(h)ilur*laur*bortz(e)*bade-eratsi
Basquebatbihirulaubostseizazpizortzibederatzihamar
Etruscanθuzalciσamaχhuθsemɸcezpnurɸśar
Hurrianšukkišinkigtumninariyšežešindikiratamrieman
- Etruscan(-pa), thuzalkihuthmaksakezpsemphnurphzar
- Basquebat, ikebir, *zorhirlaubortzseizazpizorzibed-era-zi*zi
- Iberianbabi, (*sor)(kiao)(lu)m(ek)(sorse)se
- Rhaetian(-pa)kim..(sei)(sui)
- Lemnianhyttmarassesar
- Caucasianzu, akesiki-omk-pchi, mkiswi
That paper's list is approximately correct, though I'm not sure where it got the Caucasian from.
 

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Then comparing words for "house, hut", "land, world", "beautiful, lick, mouth", "city, tribe", "border, limb", "spring (of water), drinking water", "high", "stone", "grave, realm of the dead", "hand, power", "god, sky", "head, leader", "man, chieftain", "rich, plenty", "man, male", "me, myself", "I, self", "house, at home", "son, male", "community, many", "large", "moon, month", "water, stream", "river, water", "hand, possession", "brother", "land, soil, four". Some of those groupings may be of homophones in Basque, because they don't make much semantic sense.

I checked the Basque ones with Google Translate, and some of them don't quite agree.

But it lists words from Camunian (N Italy), Elymian (W Sicily), Etruscan (N C Italy), Iberian (E Spain), Lemno-Pelasgian (Lemnos), Lepontic (N Itally), North Picene (N Italy), Ligurian (N Italy), Nuragic (Sardinia), Itturian (Belgium), "NW Paleo-European", "Central Paleo-European", Pictish (Scotland), Rhaetian (N Italy), Tartessian (SW Spain, S Portugal).

Paleo-European subgroupings:
  • Northwest: Basque, Iberian, Aquitanian, Pictish -- Ligurian, Nuragic, Itturian
  • Central: Etruscan, Rhaetian, Lemnian -- Elymian, North Picene, Lepontic, Camunian
Only ones with enough material for a likely classification: Iberian, Etruscan, Rhaetian, Lemnian

The languages have several similarities in their non-cultural lexicons, like pronouns and numerals. Personal pronouns:
  • 1s: mi, me / nai, ni
  • 2s: gu, ku, khu, ki
  • 3s: te, e, ne, a
  • 1p: gu, iu / ti, zi
  • 2p: su, zu / wo
  • 3p: nu / ak
 

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Notes on some Pre-Greek words in relation to Euskaro-Caucasian (North Caucasian + Basque)

English "halo" is from Greek halôs, halôê, halôâ "threshing floor; disk; disk of the sun or moon; ring of light around the sun or moon”. Related to PEC *=VrtLV "to thresh" and Basque larain "threshing floor"

Greek anthrôpos "human being" ~ Basque *andere "lady, young lady, woman, wife". But the word may be related to Greek anêr, andr- "man (adult male)" < PIE *h1ner- "man; power, force, vital energy"

Greek psukhê "vital force, soul, ..." (> English "psycho-" words) ~ Basque *bi=si "life, lifetime, (adj.) alive" ~ PNC *b=siHwV (with b-prefix) "breath, to breathe"

"Breath" > "vital force, soul" is a *very* common semantic shift. Latin spiritus, Greek pneuma, Proto-Slavic *dukhu, Sanskrit âtman, Hebrew ruach, Arabic ruh, ...
 
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Seems like someone should do for Basque and North Caucasian what Martine Robbeets did for the Transeurasian languages: use a list of meanings with highly conserved word forms and see how they compare.

Appendix:Swadesh lists - Wiktionary uses a 207-member list from Morris Swadesh's work. "Starting in 1950 with 165 meanings, his list grew to 215 in 1952, which was so expansive that many languages lacked native vocabulary for some terms. Subsequently, it was reduced to 207, and reduced much further to 100 meanings in 1955. A reformulated list was published posthumously in 1971."

The site has Swadesh lists for numerous languages and protolanguage reconstructions, and I found some for Proto-Indo-European, Georgian, Chechen, Ingush, Basque, and Etruscan. Georgian is Kartvelian ("South Caucasian"?) and Chechen and Ingush are Nakh family, in Northeast or East Caucasian, in North Caucasian. The Etruscan one was very scanty, as one might expect.

This has inspired the construction of similar lists, like what MR used, the Leipzig-Jakarta list.

One would first start with Northeast Caucasian, Northwest Caucasian, and their subgroupings, then do North Caucasian, and then compare to Basque.
 

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I can't help but notice that the PIE words for honey, *medhu and *melit, are very similar-looking words. Could they be descended from the same word form? The resemblance to PNEC *mHadwV suggests borrowing, even if the direction is not very clear.

Another clue is their declension type. Both words are athematic, the older type of declension that mainly survives as relics in the attested IE langs.

When searching for discussions of PIE words for "honey", I found this:

Isomorphic co-expression of modification and possession in Proto-Indo-European: one origin of nominal -s- and -t- stems -- not the most easily understandable title, I must say. But from the paper, I propose:

Proto-Indo-European nominal -s- and -t- stems: modification and possession having the same form?

Alternating presence and absence of these suffixes is not very common, but it is present, like in PIE *meli ~ *melit "honey".

The authors note that some languages have that feature, like "heavy stone" being more literally "heaviness of stone", and they propose that as the explanation.

I also found this:

Latin examen, Greek exagogeus, and the Indo-European Apiculturist’s Taboo - noting a common taboo against naming what one is hunting for, presumably to avoid giving away one's intentions. That apparently applied to the PIE ward for a swarm or hive of bees, whatever it was. As to the Latin and Greek words in the title, they are action and agent versions of *h1egs-h2eg- > *ex-ag- "to drive out, to lead out", what the big bee in the hive presumably does.

In past centuries, many people called that bee the king bee, and believed that that bee commands all the others. But in recent centuries, we found that that bee lays eggs, and is the only reproducer, and thus was renamed the queen bee. That bee suppresses reproduction by all her daughters, the workers, but that's the extent of her "leadership". In fact, for the most part, honeybee populations, and social-insect communities more generally, are run as anarchist collectives, without any well-defined hierarchy of command.
 

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Back to "Language Dispersal beyond Farming".

"Expanding the methodology of lexical examination in the investigation of the intersection of early agriculture and language dispersal" - Brian Joseph
Abstract:
Analysis of agricultural vocabulary remains one of the most compelling methodologies bearing on Renfrew’s Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis, by which the reconstructed lexicon for a proto-language of a well-dispersed language family is predicted to contain several agricultural items. Mostly, though, this methodology has involved noting the presence or absence of particular lexical items for a given protolanguage and drawing inferences from that, or working out root derivations and drawing appropriate inferences. I propose here two new types of lexically based argument, by way of expanding the methodology of lexical examination and analysis, looking first at derivational processes involved in the creation of relevant words and the meaning that such processes add to the derivative, and then at religious rituals and mythology to examine the embedding of agricultural vocabulary into the religious practices and mythological tales associated with early Indo-European culture. Ultimately, then, I argue that it is not enough to just look at the meanings of particular words and to try to develop a sense of what they originally meant, nor is it enough to determine the source of the words (derivation, etymology). Rather, one also has to look at how the words were used, what is reconstructible about the use and form of the word, and what the cultural context was for the words. Only then can insights derived from lexical examination be used in developing a sense of prehistory.
He discusses a reconstructed PIE word for plow: *h2erh3-tro-m with instrument-noun suffix -trom (neuter o-sterm). Was the word independently coined? But given how useful plows are for agriculture, it's likely PIE.

h1e -> e, h2e -> a, h3e -> o

For "(arable) field", we reconstrucg *h2eg-ro-s (masculine o-stem). It's likely derived from *h2eg- "to lead, drive". So a field would be a place to drive animals to, for working the land or for grazing. Then noting that -ro- usually formed adjectives, with the root in zero-grade ablaut and not e-grade ablaut. So *h2egros is rather irregular.
 

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After discussing borrowings, getting into derivational processes. How are agriculture-related words formed? Were words formed much like that word for "plow"?

Then talking about *yugóm "yoke" (neuter o-stem) derived from *yeug- "to yoke, join", and then, reduplication, repeating part or all of a root. That was used for forming verb aspects, like imperfectives from perfectives and statives from other aspects. Reduplication has a meaning of extended or repeated actions.

Some words for grains have reduplication in them, as do some words for "press, vice", "sieve", and "rake". "Wheel" *kwe-kwlos -- a bit unusual with zero-grade ablaut in its stem.
All that is seen here for the semantics and function of these reduplicated terms across Indo-European is consistent with cross-linguistic uses of reduplication, going with nouns for items taken in collectivity in many little bits and pieces, like grains, and for repeated actions (cf. Moravcsik 1978), so that the possibility of independent use of reduplication in each linguistic tradition cannot be dismissed. However, it can be speculated that reduplication is perhaps especially well suited as a derivational process with agricultural terms, since the actions involved in agriculture, including tilling, plowing, and sifting, require repeated actions in ways that the tasks involved in, say, animal husbandry, do not, and the results of agriculture, especially involving grains, lead to collections of multiple small items.
Then noting reduplication of stative-aspect forms, and intensive or repetitive forms.
 
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