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Version of 2008-06-03
Wersja polska • Bilanguage version • Wersja dwujęzyczna
Warning: the term the Germanic language denotes a language which is not known from texts and which is the antecessor of all modern germanic languages (German, Dutch, English, Swedish etc.) in the same way as Latin is the antecessor of all Romance languages (Romanian, Sardinian, Italian, French, Provençal, Catalonian, Spanish and Portuguese). Existence of this language is believed to be certain (on the other hand, the view that such a language never existed is deemed to be absolutely improbable). In the same or similar meaning the terms the Protogermanic language, the Germanic protolanguage or the Common Germanic language are in use.
A fair amount of information given below has been taken from the presently inexistent page http://www.muw.edu/~rmccalli/subsGerIntro.html. Its author had not at his disposal examples of links to other Indo-European languages apparently, especially to Slavic. A number of examples comes from other sources (see ex. Germanic substrate hypothesis, Vennemann’s works, like Languages in prehistoric Europe north of the Alps).
βίσων, -ωνος, perhaps also βόλινθος, βόνασ(σ)ος.
I think some other facts should be considered here:
- Germanic *wisunda, Old Icelandic visundr, Old High German wisunt, cf. modern German Wisent,
- Latin bisōn (borrowed from Germanic?), hence English bison which is a borrowing from Latin;
- Slavic facts: Polish żubr (ż instead of z is commonly treated as a hypercorrection: some Polish dialects, but not the literary language, know the process ż > z) and the toponym Zębrze, Russian zubr, izúbr, izjúbr < Old Slavic *zǫbrъ ~ *izǫbrъ; notice the hesitation in the anlaut; the last Russian form izjúbr cannot be derived from any Old Slavic word because the -zju- group should not develop at all, according to all known phonetic rules;
- Baltic facts: Lith. stum̃bras, Old Prussian wissambris (which is very close to Germanic forms);
We can propose at least 3 hypotheses about bison.
- The described word can be Indo-European. It may be connected with *ǵombh- ‘tooth, horn, peg’, cf. Greek γόμφος, Eng. comb and Polish z±b < Old Slavic *zǫbъ ‘tooth’. If yes, then Polish żubr and other Slavic forms could come from *wi-ǵombh-ro-s, ‘dis-horned [animal]’ (first perhaps Bos primigenius, which horns made a V-like shape?). The German term can be a borrowing from Balto-Slavic.
- There exists an attempt to link the name of ‘bison’ with IE *weis- (Lat. virus ‘venom’, Engl. weasel). This attempt ignores Balto-Slavic facts.
- The names of ‘bison’ can be parallel borrowings from the pre-Indo-European substratum, not only from Pre–Greek of course. In this case βόλινθος < *βόνινθος, βόνασ(σ)ος may belong here as well.