Etymology of "apple"

Dhira Simha

Senior Member
UK
Russian
The etymology of apple has always been somewhat obscure. Pokorny (1959) noted that it was not possible to attain a single form of vocalization so he gave the following reconstructed Indo-European (IE) variants: *ābel- (*ăbel), *ābol- (*ăbol), *abel- (Pokorny, 1959, 1-2). He also believed that these forms were related by primitive kinship and were not the result of borrowing ("Obgleich eine einheitliche Grundform nicht ansetzbar ist, wird es sich beiden lat. kelt. germ. bsl. Formen nur um Urverwandtschaft und kaum um Entlehnung handeln."). This initial reconstruction has not undergone any significant change. There two current versions *ābōl and its lyrengeal variant *H2ebōl (Blažek 1995).

The principal difficulty here is the fact that this word is only attested in Balto-Slavonic, Germanic and some Celtic languages:

Old Eng. æppel, Old Frisian and Dutch appel, Old Norse eple, Old High German (O.H.G.) apful, Germ. Apfel, Gaulish avallo fruit, Old Irish ubull, Lithuanian obuolys, Russian (Rus.) jabloko, Bulgarian (Bulg.) jablo, abĕlka, jabĕlka, Slovenian (Slov.) jáblo, jábolko, Czech (Cz.) jablko, (Old Czech jablo), Slovakian (Sk.) jablko, Polish (Pol.) jabłko, Old Prussian (O.Prus.) woble (Vasmer, 1964 -1973; Trubachev, 1974; Blažek, 1995).

From the above cognates it is obvious that only the Balto-Slavonic forms closely correspond to the reconstructed IE base but, generally, this list is nothing more than a number of related words without any credible etymology to explain their origin and semantics.

Perhaps the most daring etymology was proposed by Theo Vennemann (1998) in his article Andromeda and the Apples of the Hesperides where Vennemann attempted to link apple to Semitic, particularly, the South-Eastern Semitic languages of Ethiopia. After an introduction, sketching his the theory regarding the languages of prehistoric Europe north of the Pyrenees and the Alps, Vennemann proposed that the reconstructed IE *abal could be cognate with the modern Ethiopic Ge'ez 'abāl, Tigrè habāl, Tigrinya 'abal, Amharic abal and Gurage abal, allegedly meaning genitals. According to him, this word was used to mean apple in Semitic and it was borrowed into Germanic with this meaning. The meaning apple was subsequently lost in all Semitic languages except in the named Ethiopic ones where it was replaced, due to “an awkward metaphoric shift”, by a new one - genitals, via the association of the external form of apples with testicles.

What do you think of this? Is "apple" a Semitic loan?

References:
Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (French & European Publications, 1959).
Václav Blažek, "Indo - European "apple(s)", Sborník prací Filosofické fakulty Brněnské university 44 (1995), pp. 15-20.
Max Vasmer, Etimologicheskiy slovar' russkogo yazyka (Russian Etymological Dictionary) Translated from German. Vol.1-4 (Moscow: Progress, 1964 -1973).
O.N. Trubachev, Etimologicheskiy Slovar' Slavyanskikh yazykov. Praslavyanskiy leksicheskiy fond (Etymological Dictionary of Slavonic Languages. Pra-Slavonic lexical fund) (Moscow: Nauka, 1974).
Vennemann, Theo, "Andromeda and the Apples of the Hesperides", in Karlene Jones-Bley and Angela Della Volpe and Miriam Robbins Dexter and Martin E. Huld, ed., Proceedings of the Ninth Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, Los Angeles, May 23, 24, 1997 (Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Series 28) (Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man, 1998), pp. 1-68. [Reprinted as chapter 18 in: Theo Vennemann, Europa Vasconica - Europa Semitica, ed. by Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs, 138), Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003.]
 
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  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    You probably know that this is part of a broader scheme. Vennemann tries to prove that there has been important Semitic on languages in the North Sea area about 300 BC as a consequence of alleged Punic colonization. E.g. he also regards Germanic strong verbs as a consequence of Semitic influence. The general reception by his peers has been "sympathetically dismissive": While most of his claims are regarded as insufficiently founded, his attempt to re-evalute the history of European civilization beyond traditional beliefs should be applauded (Source, p.35).
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I read all major works of Vennemann and, while I can not agree with many of his etymologies, I value his originality. Still, any bright ideas on the origin of "apple"? Do you think that *ābel- (*ăbel) is an inherited IE word or a loan? Is you think that it is a loan, where from?
     

    eamp

    Member
    German (Austria)
    Well, lets compare the likelihood of Indo-European or Semitic Origin of the word.

    Assumptions that need to be true for an IE origin:
    *A word of the shape *abVl- existed in IE meaning apple. Support for that are words in three (though neighboring) branches showing regular correspondence and all meaning apple.

    For Semitic Origin:
    *A word of comparable shape existed in Proto Semitic. Unproven, only survives in one branch.
    *It meant apple. Pure guess, not attested.
    *It was preserved in Phoenician. Pure guess, not attested.
    *Phoenicians made their way north and had intense contacts with northern European populations passing many words to them. Apparently they were also highly involved in cultivating apples so that their word for it replaced the native one in those languages. There is no good evidence for any of that.

    So what would you judge more likely?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Geʻez ʼabāl means “flesh, piece of flesh, member of body, member (of a community), limb, genitals, self, person” (thus Leslau 1989; basically following Dillmann 1865). Neither in Geʻez nor in other Ethiopic languages does it mean “apple”, or indeed any fruit. The semantic development flesh > genitals seems straightforward, so there is no reason to postulate a supposed older meaning “apple”.
     

    Dhira Simha

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    Russian
    Geʻez ʼabāl means “flesh, piece of flesh, member of body, member (of a community), limb, genitals, self, person” (thus Leslau 1989;
    I have checked the Leslau ((Leslau, 1973) dictionary but this word can mean ‘genitals’ only in the expression abalä zär where zär means ‘seed, sperm’ and is directly related to the Hebrew zera ‘seed, sperm’, so abalä zär may be explained as ‘sperm, seed member’. It appears to be a rather recent calque of one of the euphemisms for genitals (cp. the English ‘member’ in the sense ‘penis’). Please correct me if I am wrong.
     
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    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Well, lets compare the likelihood of Indo-European or Semitic Origin of the word.

    Assumptions that need to be true for an IE origin:
    *A word of the shape *abVl- existed in IE meaning apple. Support for that are words in three (though neighboring) branches showing regular correspondence and all meaning apple.
    There are several issues with this word. 1) It is only attested in the 'Nothern' branch of IE. 2) This it is the only IE (reconstructed) root starting with ab- in Pokorny dictionary if we do not count the controversial ab- "water" which is not recognised by all (At least it missing in Watkins dictionary). As you know, the presumed /b/ in IE is generally rather controversial. 3) Pokorny could not arrive to a single vocalic form so in order to cater for all attested initial and medial vowels he had to posit three forms ā̆bel-, ā̆bōl-, abel-. This looks like jiggling to me. Watkins has it as ab(el) which can hardly explain the range of initial vowels from /u/ to /ya/ in various attested languages.
     
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    Sulius

    Member
    English
    I have checked the Leslau ((Leslau, 1973) dictionary but this word can mean ‘genitals’ but only in the expression abalä zär where zär means ‘seed, sperm’ and is directly related to the Hebrew zera ‘seed, sperm’, so abalä zär may be explained as ‘sperm, seed member’. It appears to be a rather recent calque of one of the euphemisms for genitals (cp. the English ‘member’ in the sense ‘penis’). Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Perhaps, it is more viable to look into the 'semitic' Abal in correlation with with Ball/Bol-e which indicates a shape. Zar- indicates a spheric shape in a South Eastern Language instead of a by-product of such shape (semen). Likewise, Molaris/Mollar/Mole (as in the bodily spherical growth), appear to originate from Molaris/Mill that many associate with grinding. However, the shape of the Mola (mill's stone) is smooth and not comb carved that could in that case denominated grinding. One can make a case that Mola expresses the circular move of the animals used to thrash the wheat in the old times, later replaced by a stone-mill technology.

    If I recall correctly, apples originate from South East Europe (Carpathian/Illyricum) in ancient times, making their way to India about 16 century and back in Europe/England and Americas a bit later. Hence, we find a somehow consistent naming convention in most languages, primarily because of the recent common origine of this fruit into most of them.
     
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    Dhira Simha

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    Perhaps, it is more viable to look into the 'semitic' Abal in correlation with with Ball/Bol-e which indicates a shape.
    Thank you, Sulius, when you say "Ball/Bol-e" you presumably refer to Germanic, I know that it is believed to come from a hypothetical root "from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" which I do not accept. I would rather connect it with the attested Skr. bal "to whirl round in a circle". There is another Skr. word, however: bala which generally has a meaning "power, strength" byt can mean also "shape; body; semen virile". However I doubt that we can draw analogies between Skr. and Semitic. Also what do you mean by "a South Eastern Language"?

    As for the origin of apples, I do not know where you got the information about South East Europe (Carpathian/Illyricum). This is interesting. Can you give a source? As far as I know, the apple tree (Malus domestica) is believed to have originated from Central Asia (Harris et al., 2002; Juniper, 2007).
     

    Dhira Simha

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    UK
    Russian
    If I recall correctly, apples originate from South East Europe (Carpathian/Illyricum) in ancient times, making their way to India about 16 century and back in Europe/England and Americas a bit later. Hence, we find a somehow consistent naming convention in most languages, primarily because of the recent common origine of this fruit into most of them.
    Where did you get it? Modern genetic research (i.e. Stephen A. Harris and Julian P. Robinson and Barrie E. Juniper, "Genetic clues to the origin of the apple", TRENDS in Genetics 18 (2002), pp. 446-430.) confirms that its wild ancestors are species of Malus sieversii found in the mountains of Central Asia in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Xinjiang, China. It is suggested that wild horses originating from the same area may have played an important part in distributing the wild apple tree seeds over vast territories. The Malus sieversii apple could have been spread further into Middle East and Europe with caravans via the Silk Road. Apple cultivation probably started in Ferghana Valley which is considered one of the earliest centers of Neolithic agriculture. The apple tree spread from this area mixing with other wild varieties and became the base stock of the modern cultivars.

    It is quite reasonable to presuppose that the areas of today's Iran, Afghanistan and North-Eastern India - where Indo-Aryans were located - were quite suitable for apple cultivation and that it would be reflected in their language and culture. Also, being a temperate climate tree, apple would not have been very suitable for the hot and arid conditions of the Arab peninsula and Ethiopia. There are modern, specially created varieties of apple which are now cultivated in Africa but in Ethiopia apples are still a luxury imported fruit.

    However, you are right by saying that it appears to be a rather recent addition to agriculture and can hardly be posited for a IE period. This, combined with other linguistic issues, seriously weakens the presumed IE origin of this word.
     

    Sulius

    Member
    English
    Thank you, Sulius, when you say "Ball/Bol-e" you presumably refer to Germanic, I know that it is believed to come from a hypothetical root "from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" which I do not accept. I would rather connect it with the attested Skr. bal "to whirl round in a circle". There is another Skr. word, however: bala which generally has a meaning "power, strength" byt can mean also "shape; body; semen virile". However I doubt that we can draw analogies between Skr. and Semitic. Also what do you mean by "a South Eastern Language"?

    As for the origin of apples, I do not know where you got the information about South East Europe (Carpathian/Illyricum). This is interesting. Can you give a source? As far as I know, the apple tree (Malus domestica) is believed to have originated from Central Asia (Harris et al., 2002; Juniper, 2007).

    I was referring simply to the English (Francais or Allemande mal prononce - if you like) word "ball" (like in basketball, but also in human reference). Bala/ Ball/Bole mean the same thing and have a common conotation with the words (bal, b:hel, ball, bale, abal) you have illustrated your last three posts with. 'Zar' may have the same meaning but I am not sure whether it is a cognate etymologically. I commented on it to illustrate a (your) point.

    What I am trying to say here, is that the semitic counterparties for the "apple" word you came up with, relate to a different etimon. However, it is interesting to know that this root traces back to ... Illirycum. Additionally, if it was possible to prove a B-> M or M-> B case of rhotacism, a language conversion to another may explain Ball from Mole/Mollar. (Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention). In short, the word is definitely not one with an Indian origin. That leaves us with the European one.

    A source on the origin of the apple is "Apples production technology and economics" Kanwar, 1987 . The book is quoted thoroughly by agriculture buletins, international forums and British Encyclopedia on Indian forestry. There are more details than the ones I quoted, but none depicts East Asia (Khazakstan) as a source. China on the other hand is not part of our etymological discussion.







    ,
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
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    Thank you for the reference "Apples production technology and economics" Kanwar, 1987. However I would not connect Mole/Mollar here. The function of these teeth is to grind the food and I would rather connect them with LAT mola "mill, millstone," related to molere "to grind," from PIE *mele-, *mel- "to crush, grind," and Slavonic molot'/meliti and Skr. mṝ "to grind, smash". It has nothing to do with round shape.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I read all major works of Vennemann and, while I can not agree with many of his etymologies, I value his originality.
    Everyone seems to agree on this. :)
    Still, any bright ideas on the origin of "apple"? Do you think that *ābel- (*ăbel) is an inherited IE word or a loan? Is you think that it is a loan, where from?
    Without a Canaanite cognate, the explanation how this word should have arrived in Germanic languages and only there through alleged Punic colonization sounds very remote. He would need another explanation how a South-Semitic word should have traveled to the shores of the North Sea without leaving traces in other European languages. Does he offer any?
    The principal difficulty here is the fact that this word is only attested in Balto-Slavonic, Germanic and some Celtic languages:

    Old Eng. æppel, Old Frisian and Dutch appel, Old Norse eple, Old High German (O.H.G.) apful, Germ. Apfel, Gaulish avallo fruit, Old Irish ubull, Lithuanian obuolys, Russian (Rus.) jabloko, Bulgarian (Bulg.) jablo, abĕlka, jabĕlka, Slovenian (Slov.) jáblo, jábolko, Czech (Cz.) jablko, (Old Czech jablo), Slovakian (Sk.) jablko, Polish (Pol.) jabłko, Old Prussian (O.Prus.) woble (Vasmer, 1964 -1973; Trubachev, 1974; Blažek, 1995).

    From the above cognates it is obvious that only the Balto-Slavonic forms closely correspond to the reconstructed IE base...
    Why? PIE *ab(e)l- > Proto-Germanic *ap(e)l- is exactly what you would expect applying Grimm's law.
     
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    Dhira Simha

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    is not part of our etymological discussion.
    Contrarily, I think it is directly relevant here. If this fruit is a recent addition then postulating an IE origin, which even by most conservative dating goes before the attested spread of apple, becomes problematic. Also you would expect that the name is more likely to originate where the fruit originated and spread on to other parts with it. This is true of many fruit names. Take kiwi or mango for example.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    How do you fit in the picture: Old Irish ubull...
    If Old Irish were the only Celtic language we know, the vowel mutations had to be explained though vowel shifts are usually less significant than (unexplained) consonant shifts. If we look at the broader picture, it seems to fit rather well. First, there seems to be fricative mutation of voiced intervocalic stops (like Spanish intervocalic "b") in same Celtic languages (/b/>/β/>/v/; Source, page 10) which would explain Beton aval and Welsh afal (both from abal). I found this overview here. They write "possibly non-IE, but N. European". If it is IE, than the Germanic and Celtic forms are consistent. If it is a non-IE loan common to both, than the /p/ in the Germanic forms means that it must have been imported before the first Germanic consonant shift which might just about be consistent with a hypothetical 4th century BC Punic influence: compare Greek κάνναβις and German Hanf, English hemp, Islandic hampur, reconstructed Proto-Germanic *hanapiz; an apparent loan which also underwent the first Germanic consonant shift (this word could, by the way, theoretically also be a Semitic rather than a Greek loan, if Vennemann were right).
    ...Lithuanian obuolys; Old Prussian (O.Prus.) woble; Bulg. jablo, abĕlka, jabĕlka?
    I am a bit confused. You said "Balto-Slavonic forms closely correspond to the reconstructed IE base".
     

    eamp

    Member
    German (Austria)
    There are several issues with this word. 1) It is only attested in the 'Nothern' branch of IE. 2) This it is the only IE (reconstructed) root starting with ab- in Pokorny dictionary if we do not count the controversial ab- "water" which is not recognised by all (At least it missing in Watkins dictionary). As you know, the presumed /b/ in IE is generally rather controversial. 3) Pokorny could not arrive to a single vocalic form so in order to cater for all attested initial and medial vowels he had to posit three forms ā̆bel-, ā̆bōl-, abel-. This looks like jiggling to me. Watkins has it as ab(el) which can hardly explain the range of initial vowels from /u/ to /ya/ in various attested languages.
    1) It has limited geographic distribution, true, but I don't think Celtic, Germanic and Baltic/Slavic constitute one branch of IE.
    2) How many roots would you expect? There are only a bit over two thousand entries in Pokorny, there is also only one root ed- for example.
    /b/ seems to be rare in IE, especially word initially, but it appears to be required for a few words still. Quite possible it's a late addition to the PIE phoneme inventory, but still common to all classical IE dialects.
    3)For the root vowel the Balto-Slavic forms seem quite regular to me /a/ > /ā/ through Winter's law, this became /ja/ word initially in Slavic and /ō/ in Lithuanian and Prussian apparently. I don't know enough about Irish to tell whether /u/ is a regular development here, but it seems in any case a phenomenon restricted to Irish, the other Celtic languages show /a/ Gaulish avallo, O.Bret. abal Welsch afal. The vowels in the suffix -Vl are less important, ablaut was very common here still in Late PIE, assuming an original l-stem forms with -ōl, -ol, -el, -l should be expected.

    I am not opposed to assume a post PIE spread of the word among the northern European dialects from an unknown source, I just think PIE origin is not necessarily unlikely and there is not enough evidence to pull the scales decisively to either side.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Thank you! It was really helpful and informative. As for your last bit, it really should have been Slavonic i.e. Bulg. jablo, abĕlka, jabĕlka. I have actually grown out of the Balto-Slavonic postulate and no longer accept it.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
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    Russian
    1)
    3)For the root vowel the Balto-Slavic forms seem quite regular to me /a/ > /ā/ through Winter's law, this became /ja/ word initially in Slavic and /ō/ in Lithuanian and Prussian apparently.
    Thank you! This was very helpful. Still, I should note, that Winters's law is not unanimously accepted and a pre-requisite for it would effectively mean the aceptance of the "glottalic" theory. Correct me if I am wrong. Also it is a bit suspicious why Pokorny had to postulate /a/ and /ā/ variants. They would have different reflexes in attested languages. I need to think about it.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    1) It has limited geographic distribution, true, but I don't think Celtic, Germanic and Baltic/Slavic constitute one branch of IE.
    Certainly not, though these groups might have split considerably later than the separation of Mediterranean branches from PIE. Anyway, in the 4th century BC, they very certainly separated. But what matters for Vennemann's hypothesis is a connected geographic distribution and not belonging to a common branch. But then Vennemann's theory would be weakened, if Celtic and Germanic the words for apple on the one side and the Balto-Slavic words on the other side were cognate because at that time (4th century BC or before), the Slavic settlement area was much further east than in the Middle Ages when Slavic languages were spoken as far West as Lübeck.
     

    Sulius

    Member
    English
    I was referring simply to the English (Francais or Allemande mal prononce - if you like) word "ball" (like in basketball, but also in human reference). Bala/ Ball/Bole mean the same thing and have a common conotation with the words (bal, b:hel, ball, bale, abal) you have illustrated your last three posts with. 'Zar' may have the same meaning but I am not sure whether it is a cognate etymologically. I commented on it to illustrate a (your) point.

    What I am trying to say here, is that the semitic counterparties for the "apple" word you came up with, relate to a different etimon. However, it is interesting to know that this root traces back to ... Illirycum. Additionally, if it was possible to prove a B-> M or M-> B case of rhotacism, a language conversion to another may explain Ball from Mole/Mollar. (Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention). In short, the word is definitely not one with an Indian origin. That leaves us with the European one.

    A source on the origin of the apple is "Apples production technology and economics" Kanwar, 1987 . The book is quoted thoroughly by agriculture buletins, international forums and British Encyclopedia on Indian forestry. There are more details than the ones I quoted, but none depicts East Asia (Khazakstan) as a source. China on the other hand is not part of our etymological discussion.
    "The Hittite (this race overuled Hati - note from Sulius) /sh/ regularly dissapeared in the other Indo European languages and the ml passed through the juncture mpl to become bl/pl-" A. Rona-Tas, f.192 "Hungarian and Europe in the early middle ages"


    So, the version ML assumes priority over MaPLe or even the later aBoL/Bol/Bule versions which I explained to indicate a circular shape. It is probable that bol/e/abul/ to denote a spherical shape is invented later, the primitive meaning being all the time a simple circular shape, like that of a flat circle. In the end, isn't the sphere nothing more but a fast spining circle? As I explained in my first post of this thread, the 'molar' concept has nothing in common with grinding, at least originally. Molar was the circle that animals traversed, tied by the neck into a pole, while thrashing the wheat. The circular move of the animals was replaced with that of a single block stone, the molar of a mill.

    Which brings us to the two original consonants that appear to have defined the name of the Eden fruit: ML for - Mola from which derived- aMLa -aPLa - aBLa.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I was referring simply to the English (Francais or Allemande mal prononce - if you like) word "ball" (like in basketball, but also in human reference). Bala/ Ball/Bole mean the same thing and have a common conotation with the words (bal, b:hel, ball, bale, abal) you have illustrated your last three posts with. 'Zar' may have the same meaning but I am not sure whether it is a cognate etymologically. I commented on it to illustrate a (your) point.
    Yes, and that word is Germanic in origin. What Dhira Simha tried to explain to you was that this cannot derived from *abal because the Germanic /b/ is decedent from the PIE /bʰ/ and not from /b/.

    "The Hittite (this race overuled Hati - note from Sulius) /sh/ regularly dissapeared in the other Indo European languages and the ml passed through the juncture mpl to become bl/pl-" A. Rona-Tas, f.192 "Hungarian and Europe in the early middle ages"


    So, the version ML assumes priority over MaPLe or even the later aBoL/Bol/Bule versions which I explained to indicate a circular shape. It is probable that bol/e/abul/ to denote a spherical shape is invented later, the primitive meaning being all the time a simple circular shape, like that of a flat circle. In the end, isn't the sphere nothing more but a fast spining circle? As I explained in my first post of this thread, the 'molar' concept has nothing in common with grinding, at least originally. Molar was the circle that animals traversed, tied by the neck into a pole, while thrashing the wheat. The circular move of the animals was replaced with that of a single block stone, the molar of a mill.
    Your argument rests on the false assumption that *abal and ball are related. Without this assumption it collapses.

    But the quote you discovered is nevertheless very interesting: It suggests that Greek μῆλον and with it Latin mālum and Italian mela could indeed by cognate to apple. At the place you cited (here), Róna-Tas equates Hittite shamlu with PIE *abal. Hittite is assumed to have split very early from PIE and Hittite forms can some insight into the internal developments within PIE before the group broke up. Here his remark that "Hittite /sh/ regularly dissapeared in the other Indo European languages" becomes important because then shamlu and μῆλον appear to be very plausible matches and the Greek form with /m/ would then simply be a reflex of a very ancient form of *abal.
     

    Sulius

    Member
    English
    Your argument rests on the false assumption that *abal and ball are related. Without this assumption it collapses.
    I have explained the connection between Abal-Balls and ball in my 1st post in this thread. Like in " you got balls!" which doesn't necessarily mean you are ready to play sports, but that as well doe to power engine. All b** versions are later versions of mola from the mother language that was later adopted into the lithurgic greek and latin cognates. Mola was a component of the Dodona magic formula given to chosen people who could make it in Hades and come back again. etc. But this is another topic.
     

    Dhira Simha

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    Yes, and that word is Germanic in origin. What Dhira Simha tried to explain to you was that this cannot derived from *abal because the Germanic /b/ is decedent from the PIE /bʰ/ and not from /b/.

    Your argument rests on the false assumption that *abal and ball are related. Without this assumption it collapses.

    But the quote you discovered is nevertheless very interesting: It suggests that Greek μῆλον and with it Latin mālum and Italian mela could indeed by cognate to apple. At the place you cited (here), Róna-Tas equates Hittite shamlu with PIE *abal. Hittite is assumed to have split very early from PIE and Hittite forms can some insight into the internal developments within PIE before the group broke up. Here his remark that "Hittite /sh/ regularly dissapeared in the other Indo European languages" becomes important because then shamlu and μῆλον appear to be very plausible matches and the Greek form with /m/ would then simply be a reflex of a very ancient form of *abal.
    This was also proposed by Gamkrelidze & Ivanov. This is how I comment on it it in the draft on my article:

    "Hittite, being an IE language, is of particular interest. There appears to be no IE words for apple in Hittite and only the [giš]ḪAŠḪUR. Hittite was written in an adapted form of cuneiform but with regular use of logograms - non phonetic signs representing a word taken from Akkadian or Sumerian. Such logograms are called "akkadograms" or "sumerograms". If the Hittite reading of such logograms is unknown it is written in capital letters by its Sumerian reading (See, particularly, text Kbo XVI A 16 (Güterbock et al., 2010).

    Gamkrelidze and Ivanov (1995, 550) proposed a Hittite reading sam(a)lu for this shumerogram. According to them, the text [giš]ḪAŠḪUR-lu-wa-an-za ’apple tree’ should be read as ša-ma-lu-wa-an-za - a reading not unanimously supported by Hittologists. Even if this questionable reading were correct, it would still be problematic to link it with *abal phonetically since it would imply the loss of the initial /š/ and change of /ml/ to /bl/.

    With so many inherent problems this hypothetical word can hardly be considered as a proto-base for 'apple'. At best, *šamalu can be viewed as a cognate with the Lat. malum ’apple’ or the Iranian seb."

    Thank you for directing me to Róna-Tas!
     

    Sulius

    Member
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    Not so easy man. I illustrated the ATESTED move in EU languages (where EU languages are a mixed pot of indigenous and barbarous languages during the dark era) from ML to BL. The move as explained abaove describes rather than cognativity a deformed prononciation from the root word into barbaric languages during centuries, which now have become now millenia. I went further to say, that Hittites themselves superposed Hati, whose culture is inscribed today to Hittite, to Persia, to Pharsi/Farsi and India to support a queer IE postulate from lingust with zero sanscrit knowledge ( Ia mquoting here our Indian counterparties.)

    However, to stay within this topic, PL and BL are down the line of transformation, making it interesting thing to see who came first where. It appears that people that pronounce Mola with PL (like in apple), must have been present in EU centuries and centurie before population who uses BL. I am not going to do any population screening here. Each can draw his own results.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    ...it would still be problematic to link it with *abal phonetically since it would imply the loss of the initial /š/ and change of /ml/ to /bl/.
    This is exactly what Róna-Tas claims. IF he is right there then the connection is obvious. It would be interesting to find out how he substantiates these claims.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Not so easy man. I illustrated the ATESTED move in EU languages (where EU languages are a mixed pot of indigenous and barbarous languages during the dark era) from ML to BL.
    You did nothing of the sort. You just combinations of sounds and letters next to each other and filled the rest with imagination.

    Róna-Tas made the very precise claim than /ml/>/bl/ happened from Hittite (supposedly a very early form of PIE) to later forms of PIE. Claims of such a law-like shift can be tested by comparing other word pairs. Just picking out a couple of words and claiming they should be related because such a sound shift can happen somewhere and sometime means nothing.

    And tossing in some mind boggling and completely unsubstantiated claims like "
    Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention" out of the blue doesn't help either.

    If you want to create a theory that could possibly explain the etymology of apple then please state it precisely. Say what should happen in transition from which language to which language and not "somewhere in a melting pot". Those vague claims could never be put to a test.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    However, to stay within this topic, PL and BL are down the line of transformation, making it interesting thing to see who came first where. It appears that people that pronounce Mola with PL (like in apple), must have been present in EU centuries and centurie before population who uses BL. I am not going to do any population screening here. Each can draw his own results.
    Sulius, I appreciate your input, however your approach falls into the area, which I classify as "sophisms". Not that I do not recur to it occasionally, but it is always the last resort. In case of "mola" there is quite a credible connection with "grinding, crashing" which is well attested across several IE branches. This considerably weakens your theory. With the added complications of multiple metathesis it is even less plausible.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    This is exactly what Róna-Tas claims. IF he is right there then the connection is obvious. It would be interesting to find out how he substantiates these claims.
    Perhaps, but before we do it, we should be sure that the reading "sam(a)lu" is correct and whether it really refered to 'apple'. If we take the rather slippery road of metathesis then we would be better off with the Turkic alma "apple". It derives from the area where cultured apple originated, it is attested, and it does not require the explanation for a s- loss. The transition ml - bl (or the other way round?) is theoretically possible.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Perhaps, but before we do it, we should be sure that the reading "sam(a)lu" is correct and whether it really refered to 'apple'. If we take the rather slippery road of metathesis then we would be better off with the Turkic alma "apple". It derives from the area where cultured apple originated, it is attested, and it does not require the explanation for a s- loss. The transition ml - bl (or the other way round?) is theoretically possible.
    True, there are a lot of ifs and buts. So, the rivaling theory would be as follows:
    The modern Turkish elma is apparently derived from Old Turkic almıla (if this is correct) which then became an assimilated loan in PIE as *am(e)l > *ab(e)l. Is this roughly the idea? The interesting bit would than still be if we could find evidence for an early PIE shift /ml/>/bl/. There we should look, how Róna-Tas supports that claim, even if we don't buy the the other bits (loss of initial /sh/ and the claim that the Hittite word was pronounced as he claimed and really meant apple). What really thrills me is the perspective of finding a relation between μῆλον/mālum and apple.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I shall think about it. Now let us look at Indo-Iranian.
    Sanskrit (Skr.) has a number of words for thorn-apple and other local fruit but no specific word for the domesticated apple,: jambu जम्बु ’rose-apple’, dadhittha दधित्थ, bilva बिल्व, 'wood-apple' tree’ etc. The unusually large number of words relating to thorn-apple is particularly interesting and deserves a special attention, whilst bearing in mind that among the dozens of such names there happens to be abalá अबल which denotes the plant Tapia Crataeva Crateva_adansoniiedit.jpg
    Grataeva is an evergreen tree belonging to Capparaceae family common to India and other tropical countries. The edible, green to yellow Grataeva fruits indeed resemble apples. The complete phonetic affinity with the reconstructed IE form *abal and the external appearance of Grataeva fruit - so similar to apples, makes it a rather suitable candidate for a cognate. The early IE presence in the Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan is well known and the archaeological evidence is in support of the migration from the North-West (Childe, 1926; Mallory, 1989; Kuz'mina, 2007; Kuz'mina, 2008). Under this scenario the IE speakers, already having the word *abala for either a wild apple or for a domesticated Malus sieversii, could use it for the visually similar Grataeva when they moved into India and came in contact with the local flora.
    What do you think of this?
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I thought अबल meant woman or is that just an accidental homophone?
    It has many meanings:
    abala mf(%{A4})n. weak , feeble RV. v , 30 , 9 , &c. ; m. the plant Tapia Crataeva ; a king of Magadha VP. ; (%{A}) f. a woman S3a1k. &c. ; N. of a woman Katha1s. ; (= %{acalA}) one of the ten Buddhist earths ; (%{am}) n. want of strength , weakness.


    It does mean woman but it is an epithet literally meaning a-balā "the weak one" (bala - strength"). It is significant that the plant Tapia Crataeva is masculine so it is probably of different origin than "weak, feeble" which is neuter.
     
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    Sulius

    Member
    English
    berndf said:
    1. Originally Posted by Sulius
    Not so easy man. I illustrated the ATESTED move in EU languages (where EU languages are a mixed pot of indigenous and barbarous languages during the dark era) from ML to BL.
    You did nothing of the sort. You just combinations of sounds and letters next to each other and filled the rest with imagination.
    Róna-Tas made the very precise claim than /ml/>/bl/ happened from Hittite (supposedly a very early form of PIE) to later forms of PIE. Claims of such a law-like shift can be tested by comparing other word pairs. Just picking out a couple of words and claiming they should be related because such a sound shift can happen somewhere and sometime means nothing.
    And tossing in some mind boggling and completely unsubstantiated claims like "Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention" out of the blue doesn't help either.
    If you want to create a theory that could possibly explain the etymology of apple then please state it precisely. Say what should happen in transition from which language to which language and not "somewhere in a melting pot". Those vague claims could never be put to a test.


    Firstly, I indicated that Mola (Illyrian), Malum (lat), Mele (it) dhe Bala/Bole/Ball/Abal/Bhel have all a common etymological meaning - the power circle/growth/a sphere.
    Perhaps, it is more viable to look into the 'semitic' Abal in correlation with with Ball/Bol-e which indicates a shape. Zar- indicates a spheric shape in a South Eastern Language instead of a by-product of such shape (semen). Likewise, Molaris/Mollar/Mole (as in the bodily spherical growth), appear to originate from Molaris/Mill that many associate with grinding.
    I was referring simply to the English (Francais or Allemande mal prononce - if you like) word "ball" (like in basketball, but also in human reference). Bala/ Ball/Bole mean the same thing and have a common conotation with the words (bal, b:hel, ball, bale, abal) you have illustrated your last three posts with. 'Zar' may have the same meaning but I am not sure whether it is a cognate etymologically. I commented on it to illustrate a (your) point.
    Secondly, I explained that despite grinding and combing that linguist have associated in error with the ancient meaning of "molar", common logic and old EU language, logic proves the opposite.
    So, the version ML assumes priority over MaPLe or even the later aBoL/Bol/Bule versions which I explained to indicate a circular shape. It is probable that bol/e/abul/ to denote a spherical shape is invented later, the primitive meaning being all the time a simple circular shape, like that of a flat circle. In the end, isn't the sphere nothing more but a fast spining circle? As I explained in my first post of this thread, the 'molar' concept has nothing in common with grinding, at least originally. Molar was the circle that animals traversed, tied by the neck into a pole, while thrashing the wheat. The circular move of the animals was replaced with that of a single block stone, the molar of a mill.
    Thirdly, I made the point that Mola/r dhe Abul lines of words resonate etymologically, but have been incorrectly disproved to relate by linguists. Further, I hinted that the ML words in EU language/s must have been at some point in time converted to BL later on.
    What I am trying to say here, is that the semitic counterparties for the "apple" word you came up with, relate to a different etimon. However, it is interesting to know that this root traces back to ... Illirycum. Additionally, if it was possible to prove a B-> M or M-> B case of rhotacism, a language conversion to another may explain Ball from Mole/Mollar. (Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention). In short, the word is definitely not one with an Indian origin. That leaves us with the European one.

    Fourthly, I provided support (Rona-TAS) to the theory that ML converted into MPL/PL and later into BL.
    "The Hittite (this race overuled Hati - note from Sulius) /sh/ regularly dissapeared in the other Indo European languages and the ml passed through the juncture mpl to become bl/pl-" A. Rona-Tas, f.192 "Hungarian and Europe in the early middle ages"
    Fifthly, I provided sources for the apple cultivation and distribution by territories that pinpoint a central EU origin of that tree.
    A source on the origin of the apple is "Apples production technology and economics" Kanwar, 1987 . The book is quoted thoroughly by agriculture bulletins, international forums and British Encyclopedia on Indian forestry. There are more details than the ones I quoted, but none depicts East Asia (Kazakhstan) as a source. China on the other hand is not part of our etymological discussion.
    If I recall correctly, apples originate from South East Europe (Carpathian/Illyricum) in ancient times, making their way to India about 16 century and back in Europe/England and Americas a bit later. Hence, we find a somehow consistent naming convention in most languages, primarily because of the recent common origine of this fruit into most of them.

    Finally
    , I summarized that:
    Which brings us to the two original consonants that appear to have defined the name of the Eden fruit: ML for - Mola from which derived- aMLa -aPLa - aBLa.

    or more specifically:


    (ML consontants): Mola (Illyr.) ->Malum (Lat.) ->Mele (It.)->Hamle(Hatt.) ->sHamlu(Hitt)->aLMa (hung) into (PL consonants): ->Apfel(Germ)->Apple(Engl.) ->Pomme (Fr) into (BL consonants): -> Abul (semit.) ->yabloko (Russ.) etc.

    Any person with some minimum language knowledge knows that the core of the words is made from consonants. OAUAH vowels add onomatopoeic noise. As you did with that mediocre post.

    PS. Translation for : "Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention".
    The ball in some sort of rubber material was originally construed in Americas and brought to Europe about or post Columbus time. It follows that any connotation relating to the game should be considered medieval. Hence the true definition of a "ball" must come from another object or shape (perhaps a bodily part as in 'abul').


    Please, next time save your own mind's substance by asking whenever you fail to get the point.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I indicated that Mola (Illyrian), Malum (lat), Mele (it) dhe Bala/Bole/Ball/Abal/Bhel have all a common etymological meaning - the power circle/growth/a sphere
    Semantic analysis is a useful tool in etymological research but phonetic similarity and semantic agreement do not constitute etymological connection per se. The most famous example is Latin hab-ere and German hab-en which mean the same and sound the same but are not etymologically related.
    (ML consontants): Mola (Illyr.) ->Malum (Lat.) ->Mele (It.)->Hamle(Hatt.) ->sHamlu(Hitt)->aLMa (hung) into (PL consonants): ->Apfel(Germ)->Apple(Engl.) ->Pomme (Fr) into (BL consonants): -> Abul (semit.) ->yabloko (Russ.) etc.
    No, we don't have time machines, there is no such thing as backward causation in etymology. You have to respect time lines.
    Any person with some minimum language knowledge knows that the core of the words is made from consonants.
    A purely consonant based analysis is useful in Semitic etymology but not in IE etymology. There are simply too many ambiguities. You have to undertake the painful tasks of analysing which vowel shifts are plausible and which aren't.

    PS. Translation for : "Keep in mind that ball is an American Indian invention".
    The ball in some sort of rubber material was originally construed in Americas and brought to Europe about or post Columbus time. It follows that any connotation relating to the game should be considered medieval. Hence the true definition of a "ball" must come from another object or shape (perhaps a bodily part as in 'abul').
    The same applies here. The Germanic root ball- is demonstrably older than Columbus.
    Please, next time save your own mind's substance by asking whenever you fail to get the point.
    Then you'd better have a point next time.;)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It is significant that the plant Tapia Crataeva is masculine so it is probably of different origin than "weak, feeble" which is neuter.
    Ok, but this remains uncertain evidence. Unfortunately, gender shifts are not that infrequent. Especially in dialect continua to sometimes happens that gender is geographically unstable. Standard languages emerging from continua then sometimes loan both forms and start to lexically separate them which then leads to independent semantic development. E.g. The cognate of the English word sea exists twice in German: See (m) and See (f); the former means lake and the latter sea.
     

    Sulius

    Member
    English
    Semantic analysis is a useful tool in etymological research but phonetic similarity and semantic agreement do not constitute etymological connection per se. The most famous example is Latin hab-ere and German hab-en which mean the same and sound the same but are not etymologically related.
    I agree what you say to be the general case. However, it is clear to both of us that the general case is not the case in the case at hand.

    No, we don't have time machines, there is no such thing as backward causation in etymology. You have to respect time lines.
    There is no way to write in 3D. What I wrote is that Illyrian to be root of all cognates, including Hati (a related language) and Hittitte which borrored from the later. You can than assign your the time frame for the remainder of words. However, the tree blocks indicate rather the chronology of borrowing->Europian/gaul-hun-goth->/Asiatic, which is in the reverse direction of the Indian-Europian borrowing mold. I daresay this is not the exception to a case....

    A purely consonant based analysis is useful in Semitic etymology but not in IE etymology. There are simply too many ambiguities. You have to undertake the painful tasks of analysing which vowel shifts are plausible and which aren't.
    Nobody relied on a "pure consonant" analysis. A and O are present in all provided samples. The point remains what Voltaire has expressed :) and that the core of shifting from the Europian to barbaric languages can be viewed in the consonant rhotacism as depicted by Rona-Tas observation.
    The same applies here. The Germanic root ball- is demonstrably older than Columbus.
    Then you'd better have a point next time.;)
    I do not make points to accomodate people's buyest opinions, regardless of the carrying costs.
     
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    Sulius

    Member
    English
    I am really sorry having to be so harsh, but this is pure and utter non-sense. This discussion has no base.
    Nonsense? I rather see the logical basis for your harshness. Your personal opinion in none of my business, nor do I care for your applaud.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Nonsense? I rather see the logical basis for your harshness. You personal opinion in none of my business, nor do I care for your applaud.
    Ok, one last attempt: Let's suppose (I don't agree with this; just hypothetically) there were a loan chain form Illyrian mola to Germanic apple (your sequence between English and German is wrong, by the way: apple is the older form and Apfel the younger) then you cannot explain the /ml/>/bl/ shift (/b/>/p/ is a distinct shift) by a shift (/ml/>/mpl/>/bl/) which happened before the ancestors of Illyrian and Germanic split, and that is what Róna-Tas talked about, a shift that happened within PIE.
     
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    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I agree with you, this hypothesis looks rather flimsy. But It has been voiced before, I should have a rerefence somewhere in my records.
     
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    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian


    Firstly, I indicated that Mola (Illyrian), Malum (lat), Mele (it) dhe Bala/Bole/Ball/Abal/Bhel have all a common etymological meaning - the power circle/growth/a sphere.
    Sulius, I have originated thes thread so I feel a certain responsibility for the direction of the discussion. The blog is supposed to be like a brain-storm. Everybody is wellcome to throw in even the most incredible hypotheses but there may be various opinions and I would like to ask you to adhere to a more academic-like style, please. I respect your opinion but, frankly, I cannot understand the logic. I do want to understand it so, to start, please explain what you mean by "Mola (Illyrian)" and specifically, what you mean when you say "Illyrian"?
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    This has all become very entangled. Maybe I could try to unravel some of the strands.

    The word for “apple” in most Turkish dialects is almā, in Ottoman and Modern Anatolian Turkish elma, in the dialect of Old Turkish described in al-Kashgari’s lexicon also almılā. Clauson, Etym. dict. of pre-thirteenth-century Turkish, p. 146, wrote that the “double form” (almā/almılā) “and the fact that the apple is unlikely to have been native to the original Turkish habitat, suggest this is a l.-w., possibly Indo-European”, though without specifying the possible I.-E. source. Superficially, almā looks suspiciously like Doric μᾶλ(ον) with its three letters jumbled, but this is a delusion. It is now more likely that the Turkish forms are all connected in some way with an Iranian *amarnā, as represented by Pashto maṇa (with retroflex ṇ), Parachi āmaṛ, Shughni mun, Roshani māwn etc.; possibly also by the Sogdian hapax legomenon ʼmʼnk, with metathesis of *amar- to alma- in Turkish, perhaps facilitated by Turkish al- 'red'. Hungarian alma seems to borrowed from Turkish. See Sims-Williams/Hamilton, Documents turco-sogdiens, (1990) pp. 59-60; Morgenstierne/Elfenbein, A new etym. vocabulary of Pashto (2003), p. 51.

    All of the Greek etymological dictionaries, including the recent one by Beekes, describe μῆλον as a “Mediterranean” word without identifiable cognates. Latin malum is borrowed from Greek. It seems thus that we have a Mediterranean wanderwort *māl- and a Central Asian wanderwort *amarn-, unconnected with each other.
     

    Dhira Simha

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    Thank you very much for the informative post and the references! I personally do not favour the metathesis idea because it is more often an exception than a rule. *amarn- could explain alma. After all, Rhotacism-lambdacism is not anusual althogh, if I remember correctly, in Turkic and Altaic languages they usually discuss /s, sh - l lambdacism. I am too inclined to separate malum and alma. I also agree that Skr. abala is most probably not related here at all. This takes us back to the beginning of the quest :(
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    ... Doric μᾶλ(ον)......

    ...All of the Greek etymological dictionaries, including the recent one by Beekes, describe μῆλον as a “Mediterranean” word ... Latin malum is borrowed from Greek.
    Also, this is exactly what the dictionary of Prof. Babiniotis says.
    Note:<<μᾶλ(ον) was also Doric>>.

    Just for the record there was also another μῆλον meaning sheep. According to the same dictionary this μῆλον traces its root to the I.E. term *(s)mel- (= browsing/pasturing small animal, mainly for sheep and goats).
    Arm. mal (=sheep), Irish mil, Anc. Germ. *smala- (=small) <<Germ. schmal, Engl. small>>.
     
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