LINGUIST List 15.1878

Mon Jun 21 2004

Review: Historical Linguistics: Vennemann (2003)

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  1. Hayim Sheynin, Europa Vasconica - Europa Semitica

Message 1: Europa Vasconica - Europa Semitica

Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 10:24:22 -0400
From: Hayim Sheynin <>
Subject: Europa Vasconica - Europa Semitica

AUTHOR: Vennemann, Theo, gen. Nierfeld 
EDITOR: Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna 
TITLE: Europa Vasconica - Europa Semitica 
SERIES: Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 138
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter 
YEAR: 2003 

Hayim Y. Sheynin, Gratz College, Melrose Park, PA.

To the memory of great linguist Robert Larry Trask.

? alif, glottal plosive laryngeal stop
� ayin, voiced fricative pharyngeal continuant sonorant guttural
c_ non-emphatic velar plosive stop
^d dhal, voiced interdental fricative coronal continuant 
d! dad, emphatic voiced dental plosive 
h! ha/heth, voiceless fricative pharyngeal continuant sonorant
q! kof, emphatic uvular plosive stop
^s Hebrew shin, voiceless high alveopalatal fricative sibilant 
s! sad, emphatic sibilant coronal fricative
^t tha/thaw, voiceless interdental fricative coronal continuant
t! ta/teth, emphatic voiceless dental plosive coronal stop
x! haf/ha, voiceless high velar fricative continuant

� shwa (reduced low central vowel)
#a ultra-short a in Hebrew and Aramaic, short in Indo-European
#e ultra-short e in Hebrew and Aramaic, short in Indo-European
#i short i in Indo-European 
#u short u in Indo-European

* reconstructed word or phoneme
+ Proto-European or Proto-Semitic reconstructed and attested word
/.../ encloses examples from Basque and Afro-Asiatic languages
[ ] encloses my notes in the body of the review

AA Afro-Asiatic
Akk. Akkadian
Ar. Arabic, Arabian
Arc. Aramaic
Ass. Assyrian
B.-Arc. Biblical Aramaic
Bq Basque
B.-Sl. Balto-Slavic
Cel. Celtic
Eg. Egyptian
Eth. Ethiopic
Gmc. Germanic
Gr. German
Gk. Greek
Gur. Gurage
Ha. Hausa
Hb. Hebrew
HG High German 
Hmc. Hamitic
HS Hamito-Semitic
Iber. Iberian
IE Indo-European
L. Latin
M-Ar. Modern Arabic
NG North Germanic
Nrw. Norwegian
O.-Akk. Old Akkadian
O.-Ass. Old Assyrian
OE Old English
OHG Old High German
Pct. Pictish
PG Proto-Germanic
PIE Proto-Indo-European
Ph. Phoenician
PS Proto-Semitic
Rs. Russian
S.-Ar. Epigraphic South Arabic
Smc. Semitic
Sp. Spanish
Src. Syriac
Sw. Swedish
Tg. Tigre
Tgr. Tigrinya
Ukr. Ukrainian
Ug. Ugaritic
WG West Germanic
WIE West Indo-European
W.-Smc. West Semitic
Yid. Yiddish

The current reviewer writes this review with mixed feelings. He is 
expected to evaluate the Lebenswerk of a scholar who holds an important 
place in European Comparative and Historical linguistics, who studied 
in good universities of Germany and the United States (and who studied 
with exceptional teachers), who has chaired the University of Munich 
Department of Germanic and Theoretical Linguistics since 1974, and who 
was visiting Professor of Linguistics in a number of universities in 
the United States and Austria. His work for the last three decades is 
known in many areas of general and Germanic linguistics as well as 
historical phonology, historical morphology, word order studies, 
typology, syntax and semantics, phonology and morphophonology. Since 
his Ph.D. dissertation "German Phonology", University of California, 
Los Angeles, he published a score of articles and conference papers, 
several books, and now a big book which includes articles united by a 
particular idea, but devoted to research of many diverse genetic 
language families.

For about two decades Professor Theo Vennemann gennant Nierfeld 
(henceforth V.) has worked diligently to uncover and explain Germanic 
and Indo-European words which didn't have clear etymology. He started 
his research from revising existing theories about the origins the 
names of European rivers and other toponyms. Already in early eighties 
he came to certain conclusions and proceeded to work in the area of 
etymology, steadfastly propagating his theories and many times 
repeating and restating his conclusions. Results of this endeavor were 
numerous articles scattered in various academic journals and 
proceedings of scholarly conferences. Now he collected his unchanged 
articles into a big and well edited book and published it in a very 
prestigious series "Trends in Linguistics".

Unfortunately after finishing the book the reader remains with more 
questions than he had before starting the book.

There is no way in a reasonably short review to deal with each separate 
article or chapter, nor with many aspects of the book under review. 
Therefore I will try to separate several areas covered in the book, the 
areas I consider to be indispensable, to describe the problems 
associated with each of these areas, and to give a critical evaluation.

The book contains 26 papers V. published between 1984 and 2000 and one 
article previously unpublished (chapter 17), i.e. 27 chapters 
altogether. Most of the articles were written in German (18), the rest 
in English. In the present book the English abstracts were added 
preceding the German articles. Among the indexes, it calls to attention 
the lack of the general index or an index of private names. The 
articles are reprinted without changes, even when negative criticisms 
were known to the author -- it is clear that the negative reactions to 
his work were known to the author, since he himself acknowledges this, 
see p. x-xi and 577-78, and also refers in notes to some of these 
critical reactions).

Since the book concentrates on substrata and superstrata in the most 
ancient period of the Indo-European or Proto-Indo-European the present 
reviewer finds it necessary to declare that he accepts the general 
principle of existing of substrata and superstrata and their role in 
development and growth of the languages in condition of language 
contacts. Our presumption is only that the existing of such contacts 
should be proven either by external or internal evidence beyond 
reasonable doubts.

The general ideas which unite the articles in the book are as follows.

1. About one third of the Proto-Germanic vocabulary has no Indo-
European etymology. V. proposes that these unexplained words may be 
owed to prehistoric substrata. According to him [I copy his account 
almost verbatim, mostly from the Introduction, although inserting 
passages from other parts of his work where necessary, and beg the 
readers for pardon for such a long exposition of his ideas, which is 
necessary, however, for understanding the order of the author's thought 
and for his logic], Indo-European agriculturalists, possibly 
originating from the area of the Pannonian Basin (in chap. 2, from the 
Carpathian Basin), migrated further into Europe in the sixth millennium 
BC and did not arrive in Scandinavia before the fourth millennium 
BC "After the last ice-age, the Vascons spread from southern France 
to almost all of Europe north of Alps, where they were subsequently 
submerged by Indo-Europeans immigrating from the south-east of the 
continent." (In chapter 26 "Grundfragen der Ortsnamenforschung ...") 
Since the climate in Europe (after the last glaciations) had begun to 
improve much earlier, Indo-European settlers encountered other, non-
Indo-European, peoples in Europe who had started to settle there from 
the eighth millennium BC onward. The first settlers were forced to 
name European rivers, lakes, mountains, settlements, etc. for reasons 
of orientation, which is a fortunate coincidence for linguistics: The 
oldest water names are probably the oldest "linguistic documents" in 
Europe north of the Alps. V. utilizes Hans Krahe's collections of 
hydronyms and reinterprets Krahe's etymologies. Whereas Krahe assumed 
Indo-European provenance of Old European hydronomy, V. proposes that 
new analyses of the data point to an agglutinating source with initial 
accent, without vowel quantity, and with the predominant vowel a. The 
author states that such a structure does not support an Indo-European 
origin, while the structural and substantive similarities between the 
language of the Old European hydronomy and Basque (!) are compelling. 
V. finds similar geographical names throughout Europe (England, 
Germany, Norway and Sweden) and attributes them to Basque etyma, the 
Basque language being the only surviving descendant of the Vasconic 
language family. [Later on V. finds that the ancient language of Raetia 
(Alpine area of today Switzerland), see pp. 737-751, was related to 
Basque and therefore he claims that there was another ancient Vasconic 
language which gave some terms for husbandry and dairy products to some 
Italic (specifically Latin) and to some Germanic (specifically German) 

Traces of substratal Vasconic influence in the West Indo-European 
languages (particularly the shift to initial word-accent in early 
Italic, Celtic, and Germanic) are more or less systematic. West Indo-
European remains of vigesimal counting, and words permitting Vasconic 
etymologies. Of the latter, reflexes of a Vasconic word for '(young) 
woman, lady', preserved in Basque andere, are cited in Celtic, Greek, 
the Romance languages, and German. Basque handi 'big' and Latin grandi- 
'big' are both derived from a Vasconic word +grandi- 'big', the Latin 
word being a prehistoric substratal borrowing.

To find appropriate Basque words Vennemann uses a number of 
dictionaries, most frequently Agud-Tovar (1989), Azkue (1984), Arbelaiz 
(n.d., ca. 1978) and L�pelmann (1968).

2. Apart from Vasconic place names there are several toponyms on the 
Atlantic littoral which are, according to V.'s opinion, neither 
Vasconic nor Indo-European. V. calls the language of these toponyms 
Atlantic and assumes that it is the language of the seafarers who 
influenced the Indo-European languages of the Atlantic littoral of 
Northwestern Europe from c. 5000 BC onward. (NB. In chap. 10, p. 363 
V. states that Atlantic people reached Southern Sweden no later than 
the third millennium AD [chap. 10, p. 363, n. 9 ; chap. 11, p. 384]). 
On the basis of etymological reconstruction, he identifies the 
toponymic roots as Hamito-Semitic or rather Semitidic, since they 
generally show a closer affinity to Semitic than to Hamitic languages. 
He says that an early Hamito-Semitic substratum on the British Isles 
was discovered in the 19th century by Morris Jones (1900) and has been 
corroborated by Pokorny (1927-30), Gensler (1993), by himself 
(Vennemann 2000b, 2001c, 2002c and 2002d -- articles that are not 
included in the current book), and others. Semitic influences may have 
lasted well into the Phoenician period. Likely examples of toponyms 
without Indo-European, but with Atlantic, namely Semitic, 
etymologies are: The Solent (Coates 1988a), Solund, Uist (an island), 
the Isles of Scilly (sf. Smc./s-l-�/ 'rock, cliff'), Tay, Taw 
(cf. Ha. /tagus/ 'river') and the Pit-names of Pictland (cf. Smc. 
*/pitt-/ 'area, region', Akk. pittu 'administrative district'(cf. 
chapters 15 and 16). Smc. loan-words in WIE, esp. in Gmc., are 
interpreted as traces of Smc. influence, superstratal in the case of 
Gmc., exerted along the Atlantic littoral rather than in the East. The 
WIE apple word and the Romance and Gmc. baron word are given special 

Referring to Coates (1988b) Vennemann identifies Uist as Ibiza with the 
Semitic etymon /ai-b-^s-m/ or /?i-b�sim/, /?�-b�sem/ or /?�-besim/ (p. 

V. expresses highly interesting although unexpected and speculative 
opinion that the tribes of Picts and Vans were belonging to this 
Atlantic (=Semitidic) society (chap. 11). However the presentation of 
this statement lacks any linguistic evidence. V. is aware of this lack, 
since he cites a passage from Newstead 1979: "Also the Picts 
disappeared as a separate people after a crushing defeat in 843 and 
nothing remains of their language except a few dubious inscriptions, a 
precious fragment of the legend that developed around the royal name of 
Drust is preserved in the tenth-century recension of the Irish saga, 
The Wooing of Emer."

All the evidence of Vans' influence on Gmc. tribes is based on 
exposition of Vanir's cycle of Gmc. myths and the same source is used 
to identify their Smc. origin. We do not deny that myths might preserve 
some historic information in somehow unclear or distorted form, but we 
do not see how V.'s interpretation can be proven it has any relation to 
the problem of Smc. Provenance of Picts.

Another two findings here: 
1) the Germanic term for rulers, Old English oe^del- (P.-Gmc. +a�al, 
Gr. Adel). V. claims that M�ller (1911) noticed the striking 
resemblance between Proto-Germanic +/a�al/ and the Arabic root /?-^t-l/ 
and interpreted the words as the same etymon of a shared Nostratic 
proto-language (!!!) [We should note that neither H. M�ller nor S. 
Levin, both of whom had a number of predecessors, interpreted Semitic 
words they found resembling Indo-European as Nostratic; they just 
presupposed that the consonant roots composed of similar consonants and 
having similar general meaning must originate from the common source. 
Nostratic theory presupposes more elaborated phonetic laws and more 
rigid hierarchy of phonetic transformations.] V. himself find such an 
explanation problematic, but he uses the word and his Smc. cognates as 
Atlantic influence on Gmc.

2) P.-Gmc +sibjo: 'family' (English sib, German Sippe, etc.) may be 
compared to the Semitic root /^s-p-h!/ the meaning of the root 
according to V., is 'family'. About this interpretation see below. V. 
going so far, as to explain the extraordinary systematization and 
functionalization of the inherited IE verbal ablaut in Gmc as Smc 

V. lists a large number of Smc. and AA words from many languages as 
sources for IE words. Some of them were identified by his predecessors, 
others he found searching in a number of dictionaries, most often 
M�ller (1911), Pokorny (1927-30), [Here we need only to mention that 
the number of both the Bq and the Smc etymologies of IE words in the 
grand Pokorny's dictionary is negligible (see Walde-Partridge's indexes 
to Pokorny (1927-30), 3rd ed., p. 481 (10 Semitic and 2 Basque words). 
Even if we take for account that Iberian etymologies in Pokorny, 
according to V., could be Basque, it would add three more words to 
Basque etymologies. In fact all these Basque and Iberian material 
belongs to two Indo-European roots andh-/ anedh- and #atos /atta)] and 
Soden (1965). Since 1995 he most heavily relied on Orel (1995). The 
last mentioned dictionary was a first attempt of the reconstruction of 
the AA lexicon based on all existing linguistic information. 
Unfortunately, as it reflected in many reviews, including those written 
by the outstanding Afrasian linguists, I. M. Diakonoff and L. E. Kogan, 
this attempt was not particularly successful. The dictionary contains a 
lot of errors and mistaken reconstructions. [See e.g. I. M. Diakonoff 
(1996):25-44; and Kogan (2002):183-202.]

The number of AA etymologies in V. is very significant, most of them 
attested in Smc. languages [contrary to position of Orel and Stolbova 
in Orel (1995) who predominantly rely on African component]. Prior to 
publication of V.'s book there were in existence several linguistic 
publications on reconstruction of P.-Smc. roots which could have been 
helpful to the author but are not mentioned there. [See e.g. Djakonov 
(1981-86) [in Russian], rev. version in Eng. Djakonov (1994-97); 
Shevoroshkin (1989), especially contributions by A.B. Dolgopol'sky; 
Renfrew (1999); Dolgopol'sky (1999); Militarev (2000).]

One would wonder why the IE words of Smc. provenance were not 
discovered by the great linguists in the 19th and 20th centuries. V.'s 
answer to this question is that most of these words are coming from AA 
languages which were not learnt in the schools. However this 
explanation cannot be true. Most of examples quoted in V.'s magnum opus 
are from Akk., Hb., and Ar., all three languages widely represented in 
the curricula of European and American universities and studied in 
different academic settings in Oriental, Linguistic or Theological 

We can observe that the long list of Smc. etymologies in V. is united 
only by an incidental similarities and in no way better than popular 
etymology. In many cases V.'s Smc. etyma do not share meaning with his 
Gmc. or IE word or explained by a forced metaphoric extension of 

To support his theory V. refers to extra-linguistic evidence.

Thus in support of the idea of prehistoric people's expansion [i.e., 
according to V., speakers of ancient Vasconic languages] from the south 
of France to Central Europe he mentions facts of genetics (cf. Cavalli-
Sforza 1994) Maps of rhesus negative are almost perfectly convergent 
with maps of the Old European hydronymy [as based on Vasconic theory]. 
Furthermore, blood group "0" contributes to the overall picture. It has 
its densest distribution in the Bq. Country (Mourant 1954). [Cf. 
Renfrew (2000), esp. chs. 1-3, 11-14, 21, 40-41.]

The IE blood group "A" is dominant north of the Danube, while south of 
the Danube, and even more so close to the Alps, blood group "0" is 
dominant... Today, "0" as the dominant blood group of the Basques is 
found particularly in those areas of Europe where the people mixed the 
least for geographical reasons: e.g. mountain regions were not 
attractive for the IE agriculturalists, large rivers were difficult to 

Here we should mention that prehistoric archaeology did not supply 
enough data to determine who were first settlers or autochthons in 
Europe; there are still discussions on Mediterranean and Asia Minor 
influences, and even directions of migrations are in dispute. So V.'s 
ideas pertaining to archaeology cannot be verified.

Exactly as V. tries to support his Vasconic theory by reference to 
extra-linguistic evidence, he does the same for his Atlantic 
(=Semitidic) theory. In this respect, he turns to the megalithic 
monuments of Western Europe and suggests that they may be vestiges of 
an Atlantic culture. Then he turns to Germanic mythology and finds in 
the myth of the Vanir the matrilineal society. He notes that such 
pattern of societal organization is well known to have existed and 
still to exist among Hamito-Semitic peoples.

In many places he states that Atlantic (Semito-Hamitic) people were 
seafarers, experts in architecture, astronomy and navigation, and 
warriors. However a big group of examples indicate that they were 
beekeepers and animal breeders in addition to being town dwellers and 
builders of fortified settlements. Later, when V. needs to explain that 
the word for apple was borrowed by Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages 
from Atlantic, he writes (p. 622):

"How could the apple-word fall so far away from its original language 
tree right into our Northwest Indo-European garden of words? ... 
According to my theory of the linguistic prehistory of the Atlantic 
regions of Europe, the apple did not have to fall far from its tree. 
The people that brought apple raising and the apple-word lived in close 
proximity to the northwestern-most Indo-Europeans. In the case of the 
pre-Germanic Indo-Europeans, they even lived in the same territory and 
became part of the Germanic people..."

So the general description of these Atlantic people that emerges from 
V.'s work, that they were superior to Indo-Europeans in seafaring, 
warfare and economy and contributed to the Indo-European civilization 
in general and to Germanic society in particular and even played role 
in German ethnogeny.

The two main points outlined above picture great linguistic ideas, 
which if proven to be true would provide new understanding of 
development of Indo-European languages, new understanding of pre-
historic Europe, would contribute to the theories of migrations and 
would be helpful in many other aspects of humanities.

However there are many difficulties with these theories.

The criticism of the problem of Vasconic substratum in V.'s theory was 
offered in Trask (1995) who states that V.'s presentation of 
Michilena's reconstruction [of P.-Bq.] is seriously inaccurate. 
Formation of the Bq. article -a most probably took place in post-Roman 
times. None of the roots or suffixes listed by V. for Old European 
looks like anything in Bq., save for the root *Is- (according to V., 
identical with Bq. root *'iz- 'water', and Michilena in several places 
dismisses this putative root as a phantasm. A sizeable number of the 
roots identified by V. have forms which would have been impossible in 
P.-Bq., e.g. the roots with initial m-, p-, r-. Trask likewise mentions 
that the Indo-European nature of the 'Old European' river names is 
defended by Schmid (1987), who notes that many of the morphs that 
appear to be present in these river names can readily be identified 
with well known IE roots and affixes. In continuation Trask dismisses 
V.'s etymology of German toponym M�nchen ('Munich') (ibid., p. 72-73)

Later Trask repeats his reaction to all the theories on connection of 
Bq. with other languages [Trask (1997), Chap. 6, pp. 358-429, esp. on 
V.'s theory, pp. 365-367.] Here among other things Trask objects V.'s 
assumption that an ancestral form of Bq. possessed a series of 'weak' 
consonants which, following the IE tradition, he terms laryngeals. 
(ibid., 180)

In Trask's view there is no base to connect Bq. with so called 'Old 
European' substratum. He shows problems associated with all V.'s 
examples one after another. In general Trask dismissed V.'s theories as 
non-serious and lacking both the Vasconist and historical linguistic 

However it seems that V. sticks with his position because after all the 
criticisms he publishes the article where he restates his theory even 
in greater detail (chapter 17, written ca. 2000), rejecting critical 
notes as if running counter to general principles of language contact.

Even greater scrutiny of V.'s ideas on 'Vasconic' or Old European 
substratum of the Indo-European attempted J.A.Lakarra [Lakarra (1996) 
(appeared not before 1999, since works published in 1999 cited there)] 
who offers a detailed analysis and the devastating criticism of V.'s 
theory of Vasconic substratum. We will cite only a short passage from 
the English abstract of the mentioned article: "Despite the flattering 
prospect of us the Basques as the only remnants of Old Europe, the 
reading of his article [Vennemann 1994 and later works-chap. 4-9 in the 
book] does not lead us to conclude that it provides the considerable 
advance that we could have expected for our field of study. In this 
paper ... we show that (i) V.'s linguistic reconstruction does not 
correspond, in very important respects, to what we reasonably may know 
about Proto-Basque structure, and (ii) consequently, on the basis of 
such a reconstruction one can hardly genetically relate Old European 
with Basque." This is the most general conclusion. Further Lakarra is 
going into detailed analysis of the shortcomings in V.'s work. She 
continues, "V. uses to his own benefit the attested phonological and 
lexical similarities between Iberian and Basque, but does not mention 
other well-known differences such as the existence of aspiration and 
lenis-fortis oppositions in sonorant in Basque. V. also takes for 
granted the Basque-Iberian hypothesis which goes against both the 
specialists' opinion and the evidence that it has no effect on the 
deciphering of the Iberian. V. clearly manipulates the distribution of 
phonemes in modern Basque so that a and vowel initial syllables seem to 
be overabundant (closer to the phonemic distribution he holds them to 
have in Old European), and taking this alleged abundance for granted he 
claims that e and o are secondary in Basque. V. does not mention the 
absence of |p|, |m| and |r-| in Proto-Basque, and claims that |h| is in 
free variation in the modern dialects which still have it."

We will not continue citing the charges against V.'s linguistic 
accuracy [they are too many], but together with Lakarra express opinion 
that V.'s reconstruction of Old European is a complete fallacy.

V. in the process of preparation of the collection of his articles for 
the book under review reacted to some criticisms of R.L. Trask in hope 
that the former would withdraw some of his charges (e.g. p. 198 n. 82; 
p. 199, nn. 85, 87; p. 596). This never happened.

Even before J. A.Lakarra's publication evaluating V.'s linguistic 
theories, Peter R. Kitson demolished V.'s analysis of European 
hydronomy [Kitson (1996)] writing a paper not specifically dealing with 
V.'s theories, but expanding on E. Ekwall's English River-Names. Oxford 
University Press, 1928 in the light of H. Krahe and his followers. He 
reveals that Krahe's attribution of the river names to the Indo-
European sources is upheld against V.'s arguments. Kitson devotes some 
place to describe some features of so called alteurop�isch which are 
the parts of a particular linguistic system. "The linguistic material 
of these names is Indo-European. Not only are most of the roots readily 
etymologized on this basis, but the suffixes also are those that were 
productive in Indo-European." It was clear already to Krahe that the 
suffixes -st- forming superlatives and -nt- forming participles are 
Indo-European productive suffixes. Kitson shows a particular order of 
phonetic elements prevalent in the alteurop�isch. "Krahe's list 
contains at least 20 names Almana, Elmina, Armenos, and the like, with 
the same order as in Greek participles in -menos, yet there are not any 
*Elnama, *Arnomos, etc., with the reverse order."

P. 82: "A recent attempt by V. (Vennemann (1994):232) [=Chap. 6 in the 
book] to show that suffixal combinations were not ordered ignores 
these. The only suffixes he proffers that 'reverse their relative 
order' are -st- and -r-. If they did it would resemble variation in 
double gradations of adjectives in some Indo-European languages, 
reflecting partly changes in linguistic fashion over substantial 
periods of time. V.'s argument depends on a tacit collapse of 
diachrony. Moreover nearly every one of his examples is suspect as one 
or more of: falsely segmented, not 'Old European', or not even a river-
name. And with so many corners cut, V. still is not able to show any 
single root with which two suffixes do occur in both orders. Altogether 
his argument is fairly trivially invalid, and the second-order 
deduction [from a maximum of two suffixes!] making the language of the 
hydronymy an agglutinating one is a fortiori.

On pp. 86-87 et passim Kitson mentions correspondences between ancient 
IE (Hittite, Tokharian, Old Iranian and Old Indian) words for river, 
stream, channel and the present rivers' names in entire Europe from 
Atlantic coast to Russia. All this is running against V.'s theories on 
Vascon provenance of European hydronomy.

P. 95: "The Indo-Europeanness of alteurop�isch names was obvious to 
Krahe and his colleages from the beginning. Occasional attempts to 
prove otherwise depend on ignoring a lot of evidence presented above 
and falsifying some of it. A recent such exercise, that of V. 
[Vennemann, ibid.], parades a technical linguistic (specifically 
morphological) virtuosity that may mislead the unwary but lacks proper 
control in several directions." On pp. 96-97 Kitson criticizes V.'s 
failure to take in account semantic links when positing etymological 
links and his way of systematic segmentation of rivers' names 
deliberately manipulating them in order to demonstrate non-Indo-
European character of the alteurop�isch. On p. 97 Kitson describes V.'s 
failure as historical phonologist (cf. p. 111, n. 74). With all the 
criticism that completely dismisses V.'s theory of the Vascon character 
of the 'Old European', Kitson finds kind words for V., saying: "Still 
Vennemann deserves thanks for supplying what had been a gap in the 
literature and showing us what a seriously worked up attempt to analyse 
the alteurop�isch linguistic material as non-Indo-European would like." 
We would like to reject even those kind words, because we understand 
that from intellectual aspect V.'s work was a non-serious manipulative 
attempt which was rejected by serious scholars and experts working in 
all the pertinent areas of linguistics.

At the end of his paper, Kitson analyses the existing opinions on the 
Urheimat of the Indo-Europeans or at least the place from which they 
migrated to Europe, and particularly to Britain. He accepts the 
original starting point of migration place in North Central Europe 
(perhaps Eastern Germany or Poland) and states after McEvedy 1967, that 
the earliest Brits - British beaker folk - came from the Rhine-Elbe 
region. All this is also a point against V.'s theories. We should 
mention also that Kitson's analysis moves the chronological frame of 
migration of the Indo-Europeans several millennia later than V. 
assumes. So the migration to Scandinavia should be postponed at least 
for two millennia, i.e. not earlier than second millennium BC 
Depicting V.'s criticism by Kitson, exactly like the case with Trask's 
and Lakarra's, we paid attention only to the main points, in no way 
exhausting all the charges. We think taking in account the criticism by 
three important experts, we are relieved for mounting new charges 
against the idea of 'Europa Vasconica'. This leaves us with 'Old 
European' being completely Indo-European or at least without a shade of 
Vasconic substratum.

Now let us to turn to Europa Semitica.

V. in several chapters matches a big number certain PIE, IE, as well as 
L. and Gr. words with the etyma coming from different languages of AA 
language bundle. Many of these languages were known to the linguists 
for centuries, but there was almost no research connecting AA languages 
with the Indo-European ones with an exception of M�ller (1911), 
Nostratic linguists (mainly since early 60s, while some initial works 
were written since H. Pedersen's 1903 paper), S. Levin (since 1971) and 
some pseudo-scholarly authors who tried to show that Biblical Hebrew 
was mother of all existing languages. [See e.g. books of Jacobowitz, J. 
Monogenesis of language: selected essays based on the first four 
letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Jerusalem: R. Mass, 1968 (in Hebrew); 
and Mozeson, Isaac E. Word: The dictionary that reveals the Hebrew 
source of English. New York: Shapolsky Publ., 1989; 2nd. ed., 
Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1995; new ed., New York: SPI Books, 2000. 
One can see similar statements in a variety of pietistic and 
fundamentalist Jewish and Christian sources, exactly like 
fundamentalist Muslims consider this language was Arabic. We can say 
that the biblical story of Babel tower gave ideas to some linguists and 
some pseudo-linguists, exactly as 18th century division of languages 
and ethnic groups as descendents of three sons of biblical Noah 
(Semitic, Hamitic, Japhetidic)]. As far as one can understand V. 
matches mostly Gr., Eng., and L. words with the AA words, which he 
finds in M�ller (1911), Levin (1995) and V. Orel and O. Stolbova 
[further Orel (1995)]. It was shown recently by I. M. Diakonov and L. 
E. Kogan, that the work Orel (1995) is insufficient and misleading in 
many entries. Since V. accepted the results of this publication 
uncritically, he inherited mistakes of this dictionary in his AA 
etymologies of the IE vocabulary.

Checking V.'s list of Smc. words which is presented as an evidence of 
"Atlantic" superstratum shows mere ad hoc sound similarities. As we 
already mentioned, plethora of examples in V.'s book are not original. 
One can find most of them in Levin (1995), some of them were known even 
earlier. V. does not acknowledge this (he acknowledges only those 
borrowed from M�ller (1911), Coates (1988), Soden (1965) and Orel 
(1995), seldom from Brunner (1969). We endeavored to check each one of 
the words presented by V. as evidence of 'Semitidic' superstratum / 
adstratum and we cannot accept them on one or another reason. The 
complete list of these words when we rewrote them from different parts 
of the book took about seven pages, but we will not bother the reader 
with the entire list. We illustrate this review only with one dozen 
randomly selected examples.

1. to wake (V.'s p. 358) w-q-y Ar., Eth. 'bewahren' (to keep, preserve)
Akk. /(w)aq!�(m)/, O.-Ass./waq!a:'um/ 'warten, harren, bewahren, achten
auf, aufmerken' (to wait, wait for, keep/preserve, attend to, pay
attention); original meaning of the Ar. root/ w-q!-y / is 'to keep, to
preserve, to keep watch, caution'. We should point that it is wrong to
compare the Eng. word with initial /w-/ to the Akk. form where the
initial /w-/ is presupposed on the basis of Ar. /w-/.

Initial PS *w- had zero reflex in Akk., see table of correspondences of 
the consonant phonemes in Dolgopolsky (1999), pp. 16-18; the same 
applies to example #4. Even there is some sound resemblance, one would 
wonder why such word should be borrowed from Smc. (because this 
semantic field doesn't reflect tangible realia).

2. Eng. sib, Germ Sippe (PG +sibjo: 'family') (V.'s p. XVII, 936) Smc. 
root /^s-p-h!/ (the meaning of the root according to V., is 'family'). 
In fact, Ar. s-p-h! / Hb. ^s-p-h! means 'to shed, to spill', and 
etymology of the 'family' in Smc. probably comes from either 
ejaculation of semen, or by popular understanding of conception as 
spilling blood of man into the vagina of his female sexual partner [see 
Gesenius 1921:856 who translates Ar. safah!a 'ausgie�en' and renders 
Ar. example /sa:fah!aha:/ 'effudit cum ea sc. semen']. Nowhere in Smc. 
the form similar to Gmc., i.e. without nominal preformative, and with 
meaning 'family' is attested. Moreover the Hb. word /mi^spa:h!a:/ was 
known to European scholars from B.-Hb. and in the form 
/mi^sp�x!a/mi^sp�x!e/ (with h! > x!) from a Gmc. Jewish language Yid. 
for centuries.

I should note, however, that V. only mentions this example in the book 
without an argumentation. Most probably he published the article in 
which he discusses the example in time it was late to include it in the 
book [Vennemann, Theo. "Germania Semitica : *sibjo:," In Heizmann, 
Wilhelm and Van Nahl, Astrid, eds. Runica - Germanica - Mediaevalia. 
Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003 (Erg�nzungsb�nde zum Reallexicon der 
Germanischen Altertumskunde, 37) : pp. 871-891. I didn't see the 

3. V. claims after M�ller (1911) the striking resemblance between PG 
+/a�al/ and the Ar. root /?-^t-l/ as the Gmc. term for rulers (OE 
oe^del- ; PG +/a�al/, Gr. Adel). This root was also known in a 
corresponding Hb. form /?as!�l/ 'noble'. Analyzing semantic background 
of Ar. /?-^t-l/ we should mention that the original meaning of it was 
'to take root, to become rooted'. The meaning of 'noble' and further 
'wealthy' is probably developed with a later semantic extension that 
happened during social development of pre-Islamic Arab tribes. In Hb. 
it remains 'noble'. Nowhere it corresponds to a semantic field 'rulers'. 
For the period V. is concerned with this Semitic word couldn't mean 

4. to ward (V.'s p. 360) Smc. /w-r-d / y-r-d/ Akk. /(w)ara:du(m)/ 'to
descend', /(w)ardu(m)/ 'slave, servant (also of kings, in palaces, of
gods, in temples)', 'a (special kind of) craftsman, (perhaps) 
master-builder', /(w)ardutu(m)/ 'slavery, servitude; service (also of 
vassal, or in politics)'; /(w)ardatu(m)/ 'girl, young woman (also said 
of goddesses and female demons)'. This historical reconstruction is 
wrong on account of w-, see example #1. We need to stress that the 
general meaning of the root w-r-d / y-r-d in all Smc. languages is 
'to descend' and therefore has nothing to do with 'to ward'.

5. Ru� (V.s p. 256) Common Smc. /q!-t!-r/ or /q!-t-r/ 'Rauch', Akk. 
/q!utru/ 'Rauch / smoke', Hb. /q!�t!�ret/ 'R�ucherwerk', Arc. 
/q!itra:/; S.-Ar.-Eth. /q!eta:r�:/ 'R�ucherwerk' N.-Ar. /q!ut!a:r(un)/ 
'smell of cooked meat, of aloeswood'; /qut!r/ and /qut!ur/ 'aloeswood'. 
It seems to me that smoke was known to the Indo-European people before 
their contacts with "Atlantic" people. It barely resembles the 
mentioned Smc. word acoustically. Moreover V. overlooked that the smoke 
denoted by the cited root /q!-t!-r/ is not a general smoke, it is a 
smoke, an odour of (burning) sacrifice or a smell of alloeswood or 
incense. In B.-Hb. the root /q!-t!-r/ as action belonging to ritual is 
juxtaposed to the root /�-^s-n/ 'smoke'. When in modern Smc. languages 
the meaning of root /q!-t!-r/ q!-t-r/ appears as regular smoke, this 
occurs because of the modern semantic extension, as for example in M.-
Hb. /miq!t!'eret/ '(smoke)pipe', but 'to smoke pipe' - /l� -�a^s^s�n 
miq!t!'eret/. Thus V.'s approximation if not impossible, but at least 
unproven and suspicious.

Therefore it would be much more logical to adopt Pokorny's root er-/ 
or-/ r- Erweiterung reu-s- [Pokorny (1927-30), p. 332]. Also this Gmc. 
root looks akin to Gk. reo: / reu:ma / re�somai 'flow'

6. Earth / Erde (V.'s pp. 254-55, 559, 614) PS +?ard! Akk./ers!etu/ 
'Land, Erde', Hb. /?'eres!/, Arc. /?ar�a:/, S.-Ar. /?ard!(un)/ 'earth, 
land' (NB: all the etymologies cited from "the school Semitic 
languages"). The Proto-Semitic form of this word is */?aras!/ , see 
Dolgopolsky (1999), p. 25, #44. NB. Dolgopolsky used slightly different 
phonetic symbols.

Since we cannot imagine ancient Arabs living in pre-historic Germanic 
lands, V.'s reconstruction of etymology for Gmc. earth / Erde is 
impossible. The th / d of earth / Erde are wrong phonemes in this 
reconstruction. In our opinion, Pokorny (1927-30), p. 332 has a 
satisfactory etymology for this word sub v. er- (er-t- / er-w-) and 
there is no need to look for a Smc. etymon even it seems very similar. 
The word /?'eres!/ is a common word in Hebrew Bible as in modern 
Hebrew, the common Ar. /?ard!(un)/ is frequent in all the periods and 
in various dialects. Nevertheless this is irrelevant for the etymology 
of earth / Erde.

7. HS +/?abol/ 'genitals' in WIG (V.'s pp. 466, 564, 619-24) Orel 
1995 No. 8 (cf. Gk. phall�s m. 'penis'); elsewhere in V.'s for 'balls' 
and 'apple'. V. cites also root */q!ol/ which in a number of Hamitic 
languages means 'testicles' or 'penis' Orel 1995:no. 2067, exactly as 
*/q!�d/ 'genitals' ('penis, testicles, anus, vulva' Orel 1995:no. 
1617). The sample has no phonetic similarity to proposed etyma. 
Elsewhere V. uses the same Hmc. word as an etymon for apple, which has 
more phonetic similarities, but nevertheless objectionable on 
extralinguistic grounds.

8. WG and NG +folk- 'Kriegsschar, Volk' (V.s p. 665) 'division of an 
army', Gk. pe'lekys, Rs. polk; according to V., derived from Smc. root 
/p-l-h!/ 'spalten' Cf. Akk. /pilakku/ 'Spindel'. There is no semantic 
basis for this suggestion. Also both Akk. and Hb. consonant /p/ stems 
from PS */p/ (see Dolgopolsky 1999, p. 16-18), Ar. reflex /f/ is of 
later provenance (innovation in Arabic) and do not have any relation to
the sound f of WG and NG +folk.

9. Heer 'multitude, host, army' (V.'s p. 266); V. cites Brunner 
1969:40, Nr. 166 who connects the word with Akk. /q!ar�bu/ (=Hb. 
/q!�ra:v/) 'Krieg, Kampf', /naq!rabu/ 'Kampf', /q!ar�^su/ 'Heer, Lager'. 
This is an obviously ridiculous approximation. There is no any phonetic 
or semantic basis for this suggestion. The original meaning of Smc. 
root /q!-r-b/ is 'to be near, to be close'. The secondary meanings are 
derived from the original one: 1) 'to be relative, kin; 2) to come 
close to God or to the altar - to offer sacrifice, from this we have 
Hb. /q!orba:n/, Ar. /q!urba:n/ both mean 'sacrifice, victim'; when two 
hostile armies come close, they initiate battle; from this derived the 
noun Hb. /q!�ra:v/ 'battle'. If it does mean sometimes in Akk. 'Heer, 
Lager', it is only by association with 'battle, war'. From here 'Heer, 
multitude, host, army' is still long way, especially because there is 
no similar phonemes. The Smc. root /q!-r-b/ has in common with Gr. 
/Heer/ only phoneme /r/. We do not see any possibility for the final 
consonant of the root /b/ to disappear with no traces or the strong 
emphatic velar plosive /q!/ to shift to /h/. If one wants to show the 
validity of his claim for the proposed etymology, he should prove these 
two phenomena, at least by providing parallel examples.

10. Haus, house (V.'s p. 260) Akk. /x!us!s!u / Ar. /x!us!s!(un)/ 
'hut, booth of reeds, tavern'. As we can see it is known from both Akk. 
and Ar. There was no need to demonstrate Ar. word. Although Pokorny 
(1927-30), p. 953 under 2. (s)keu-, (s)keu�: (s)ku: does not have a 
satisfactory etymology of this word and on p. 534, s.v. ca:s-, c_�s- 
has equally unclear etymon for Lat casa. There is no need to look for a 
Smc. etymon, the word attested in almost all Gmc. and IE languages. 
Moreover, there is no reasons to unite Haus and casa as derivatives of 
the same primary root even one seems very similar, the same can be said 
about Gk. /oikos/ 'house'. OG forms exhibit a variety forms such as 
Nrw. Hu:se, OHG hu:s, Sw. Hydda, which suggest affinity with Gr. H�tte 
and Eng. hut. Cf. Rs. and Ukr. /khata/ which provides an excellent 
example for a good illustration of the real connection of 'hut' and 

As for L. casa, contrary to Tronsky 2001:110 who considered this a loan 
word in L., we can suggest the L. etymon capsa 'receptacle, repository, 
chest, box, container' [from Lat verb capio:, cepi, captum, cap#ere 
'take, catch'] [root cap- + nominal suffix -s-+ nominal suffix of n.f. 
-a: (capsa > cassa > casa, i.e. regressive assimilation of /p/ 
preceding /s/ ). The metaphoric extension of the meaning from 'box' to 
'hut' and further to 'house' is not too hard to imagine.

11. (Unge)ziefer, Opfer (V.'s p. 266-67) Akk. /zibu/, Hb. /zevah!/, 
Arc. /devh!a:/, S.-Ar.-Eth. /zebh!/ Arab. /d!ibh!(un)/ all 'Opfer' 
(Bergstr�sser 1989:190) As we see the root is known in virtually all 
Smc. languages. The sounds' similarity is too slight. Besides the 
imagined Atlantic people would not need to loan a general term for 
sacrifice of animals to Indo-Europeans. Remember, according to V., the 
Vascons were the shepards, Atlantics were seafarers and warriors. The 
term /z'evah!/ in Semitic languages refers to slaughter of the 
sacrificial animals. Gesenius:1921:192 translates /z'evah!/ 
'Schlachtopfer' as an opposition to other types of sacrifices, such as 
/minh!a:/ and /� o:la:/.

12. +farh- WG 'Pig' (V.'s p. 664-65) V. notes that raising pigs was 
brought to the Northern Europe by the megalithic Semitides (Vennemann 
1997b: chap. 11, sect. 3). A number of Ger words the author assumes to 
be of Semitidic origin, but he doesn't give any Semitidic evidence. 
(pp. 662-669). V. never brings the Sem. etymon, but he probably has in 
mind Hb. /h!#az�r/ or Ar. /x!inz�r /. Curiously enough, without any 
evidence V. attributes also the IE word for wild pig Ever/Eber to Sem 
etymon (Ar. /�ifr/ 'Eber, Ferkel' Akk. /app�rru/ 'Wildschwein' (V.'s 
pp.252, 560, 614). Since Ar. example is from much later period and it 
is most similar acoustically to WG word, V. had to find more ancient 
example exhibiting sound /f/ in this word, i.e. he had to chose rather 
examples from SA or from African Semitic languages (if this word is 
attested in them): the reflex of Proto-Semitic */p/ in them is /f/.

It is known that boar hunting and pig domestication in Northern 
Europe is known from the Neolithic period (see e.g. in Encyclop�dia 
Britannica, 1971, v. 17, p. 1068, s.v. Pig). Atlantic people who 
arrived to Europe, according to V. in the post-Neolithic period, 
definitely didn't introduce this breed to Europe. If they didn't bring 
these animals to Europe, there was no need to name pigs and boars by 
Atlantic settlers.

Even greater difficulties are found in V.'s persistence that Pct. was a 
descendent of Atlantic (=HS) languages and in the British toponyms that 
according to him originated from Pct. and that following Coates 1988a, 
1988b, and 1988c (names of the strait The Solent, England; of a 
mountainous island Solund, Norway; and the Isles of Scilly) he explains 
from Hb. +s-l-� or Pl. +s-l-�-m 'rocks, cliffs'. Also after Coats 
1988b:21 he explains the name Uist, Ibiza from Hb. /?�-b�sem/ [island 
of balsam or spice?] or /?�-besim/ [if one substitutes s for s! 'island 
of eggs'?]. The same way non-convincing is his etymology of the 
Hebrides (Ptolemy's Aibo�dai or Pliny's Hebudes from Akk. /pux!adu/ 
'lamb' or Ug. /p-x!-d/ as 'Lamb Isles, Sheep Islands, or Isles of 

There are many more to say about the use of Smc. materials by V., but 
this does not change our conclusion that Smc. etyma supplied by V., do 
not depict the language of the "Atlantic" substratum of the IE or Gmc. 

If V.'s idea that Atlantic people migrated from Africa along Atlantic 
coast holds true, he should present us etyma from the level of HS, i.e. 
AA, corresponding to the fifth millennium BC, not from the languages 
of the second and first millenia at the best. Even Akk. etyma copied 
from Soden 1965 are too late (into this category fall so called Pit-
names of Pictland. Only one etymon in V.'s book is derived from Ha. 
(/tagus/ 'river') for rivers Tay in Pictland and Taw in England, which 
V. copies from Stumfohl 1989:137, in spite there were other suggestions 
for their etymologies, while /tagus/ is not registred on AA level. 
Among several dozen appellations for river in Orel 1995 /tagus/ is not 
mentioned. He explains the L. apis 'bee' after Brunner (1969) from 
Ancient Eg. as reduced form /af/ from /?fj/ (pp. 713-14, 723, 727) and 
IE root +bi- or *bhi- by a different Ancient Eg. form /bj-t/ 'honey 
bee'. On the bases of combination of Semitic +HVm- 'Volk, people' + bi- 
he reconstructs compound word Imme / imbi and its relatives in the WG 
languages. If this reconstruction is true, the question arises why only 
WG languages retain this word. If the Afroasiatics migrated from Africa 
along Atlantic coast northwards why these Imme-words didn't leave 
traces in any of the languages spoken south and west from the areas of 
WG tribes.

In general the opinion of R.L. Trask about impossibility and silliness 
of linguistic reconstructions going back millennia before the first 
written records holds also for Atlantic (or Smc.) part of V.'s theory.

>From a mere technical point of view, we should mention that the form of 
presentation of material could be greatly improved, had the author 
endeavored a re-writing of the book in the form of a monograph. This 
way he would be able to eliminate numerous repetitions, to smooth some 
inconsistencies and changes of opinions which came on different stages 
of his research, as well as to consolidate the topical subjects and 
groups of words in more organized form. It would be also for advantage 
to publish the book in one language, either German or English instead 
to mix German and English articles in one book. We do not believe, 
however, that the book could be improved conceptually, because the 
practical weaknesses of linguistic reconstruction do not help to 
support the theories propagated in the book.

This book teaches us this lesson: However good a theoretician of 
linguistics one is, it is a paramount importance that he would master 
the languages he operates in his work. As far as it is known, and as it 
was stated by V. himself, he is no Vasconist, no Celticist and no 
Semitic or Afroasian linguist, he doesn't have special preparation in 
all these areas, neither in onomastics. To base such a big work on the 
etymologies taken from works of other scholars and from the large 
library of dictionaries is permissible only on condition that the 
author understands the linguistic implications connected to each word, 
each morpheme and each phoneme, the implications which are not usually 
supplied in the dictionaries. The author should follow the process of 
language change for each of the examples he provides as a proof of his 
theory. Speaking frankly, even the great linguists would not attempt 
historical reconstruction going back to the fifth millennium BC, 
especially in the condition of absolute lack of linguistic material 
going back even to the fourth or third millennia, not to speak that the 
linguistic material used in the dictionaries is of much later time. We 
should mention that V. failed in this book not only as comparative 
linguist, or etymologist, but even in his narrow specialization as a 
Germanist. [See Kitson (1996): 83, nn. 14-15]. Remember, in the 
beginning of this review I mentioned, that V.'s Ph.D. dissertation was 
on German phonology. Kitson (1996):110 shows that V. failed to give a 
rational explanation to the prevalence of o-grades over 'full' or 
'normal' e-grades. He failed to recognize the Indo-European phonetic 
form of suffixes. He failed to treat existence of vowel a in the Indo-
European roots.

In short we consider the book a complete failure.

We are not going to check V.'s extra-linguistic data; because we 
believe that first the linguistic facts should be proven. Now when we 
are sure that the linguistic base of V.'s theories is faulty beyond the 
reasonable doubt, there is no need to check his extra-linguistic 
evidence. However we can predict that exactly as both the P.-Bq and the 
PS reconstructions and approximations are faulty, the same will be 
found with V.'s extra-linguistic evidence.

In a sense V. predicted his failure, however, formulating his thoughts 
in the form of three questions at the end of chap. 10. "Some West Indo-
European words of uncertain origin" (originally published in 1997). 
There the author lists 3 important problems with which he doesn't deal, 
as follows:

1. Will we be able to correlate the three series of Indo-European 
plosives at their various stages of development ... with the plosive 
series of the Vasconic and Atlantic languages ...?

2. Will we be able to establish partial chronologies of prehistoric 
changes in the West Indo-European languages by comparing the structure 
of putative loan-words to their assumed sources...?

3. Can it be proved ... that the amazingly regular Germanic verbal 
ablaut came into being when speakers of Atlantic languages shifted from 
their rigorously ablauting languages to the mildly and irregularly 
ablauting Palaeo-Germanic system?

Today we can answer all three problematic questions in negative. We 
will not be able to correlate the three series of Indo-European 
plosives at their various stages of development with the plosive series 
of the Vasconic and Atlantic languages. We will not be able to 
establish any chronologies of prehistoric changes in the WIE languages 
going back to the eighth thousand BC or to the fifth thousand BC by 
comparing the structure of putative loan-words to their assumed 
sources. And the problem depends both on IE part and on "putative loan-
words". We believe that the "putative loan-words" were too putative 
ones, i.e. they do not have any relation to IE or its Western branch. 
It cannot be proved that the amazingly regular Gmc. verbal ablaut came 
into being when speakers of Atlantic languages shifted from their 
rigorously ablauting languages to the mildly and irregularly ablauting 
Palaeo-Germanic system. (See pp.625-627). The languages do not borrow 
general ideas of structure one from another. Structural similarities 
can be of two origins, genetic or typological [i.e. as realization of 
one of many possibilities]. In Semitic, where the structure originated 
from the common proto-Semitic, the extraordinary systematization of 
ablaut refers to structure of contrasting verbal stems: basic, 
intensive, causative, passive, reflexive, etc., including such rare 
formations as to indicate meaning 'to allow to do something concerning 
one,' or to point to color or bodily defects, 'to ask or consider to do 
something' [See Moscati (1969):122-131; Wright 1966:198-226]; and the 
long series of nouns' models. The systematization of rich ablaut in 
Semitic is insured by the prevalence of tri-consonantal roots. In the 
IE, especially in Gmc., languages the ablaut forms are used only for 
distinction of tenses. Much rarer are changes of vowels in conjugation 
of verbs (like in Sp. dorm'ir / duerme). In Gmc., there are very few 
examples that can be interpreted as contrastive verbal stems (a kind of 
sitzen 'sit, be seated' and setzen 'place, set, put', Engl. sit and 
set), which reminds on relation of base stem and causative stem in Smc. 
(like Qal and Hif'i:l stems in Hb., or the first and the fourth 
formations in Arab). If one designates this resemblance as similarity 
at all, this has to be a limited typological similarity.

V. instructs Indo-Europeanists to turn from problems of internal 
Indo-European reconstruction to the study of their contact languages. 
Any well versed historical linguist would be wondering as to what IE,
Nostratic or Eurasian form V.'s followers should compare the 
reconstructed forms of contact languages.

We mentioned above that the book was well edited. A great recognition 
for editing the book deserves the editor Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna who 
assembled all the articles, edited them, composed indexes, wrote the 
introduction and supplied the abstracts. She and several students of 
Prof. Vennemann have proofread the text of book. Nevertheless 
occasional mistakes and typos occur, especially in linguistic examples 
from less known languages, e.g. discussing the name of the alder on p. 
327 V. brings Russ. 'ol#icha (< +alisa:). The real Russian word is 
/ol'kh'a/; on p. 708 V. brings Rs. /serp#u/ 'sickle'. The correct word 
should be /serp/.

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Hayim Y. Sheynin studied General linguistics, Classical philology, 
Semitic philology and Jewish interlinguistics in Leningrad (now St. 
Petersburg, Russia), Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He holds Ph. D. degree 
in the Oriental languages from the University of Pennsylvania. He 
taught Semitic languages and Hebrew literature in the University of 
Haifa, Dropsie University and Gratz College. He participated in several 
projects of Aramaic lexicography, description of Hebrew manuscripts, 
publication of poetic and philological texts from the Cairo Genizah, 
etc. The recent interests include lexicology of Semitic and Jewish 
languages. He contributed reviews of monographs on historiography of 
linguistics, on Romance languages and on Arabic to Linguist List and to 
Studies in Linguistics and on Hebrew manuscripts to Jewish Quarterly 
Review and other periodicals and festschrifts.
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