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An Austronesian’s Adventures in Altertumswissenschaft and Indogermanistik

06 October 2004

O rem ridiculam!

It’s a blogtastic, exclamatory-accusative day! So, in the hopes of fulfilling an odious research assignment to address my first ever “Incomplete”, I’m reading J. P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1989). One of the funniest things I’ve ever read in a scholarly work:

Indeed, it is bizarre recompense to the scholar struggling to determine whether the Proto-Indo-Europeans were acquainted with some extremely diagnostic item of material culture only to find that they were far more obliging in passing on to us no less than two words for ‘breaking wind’. English dictionaries may occasionally shrink from including such vulgar terms as ‘fart’ but the word gains status when set within the series: Sanskrit pardate, Greek perdo [sic], Lithuanian perdzu [sic], Russian perdet’ [sic], Albanian pjerdh ‘to fart loudly’ (distinguished from Proto-Indo-European *pezd- [sic] ‘to break wind softly’) (p.126).

The book is targeted at a non-specialist audience, so the transcriptions are broad. More narrowly (s.vv. *perd and *pesd, LIV2):

  • *perd ‘(laut) furzen’ IEW 819
    • Aorist *pérd-/pr̥d-
      • ?[jav. pərəδən V. 3,32 ‘furzten’1
      • [gr. att. -έπαρδεν ‘furzte’
    • Präsens *pérd-e-
      • ai. klass. (11. Jh.) pardate ‘furzt’2
      • gr. att. πέρδομαι ‘furze’
      • ahd. ferzan, [an. freta3 ‘furzen’
      • lett. pȩȓdu, (piȓst); [lit. pérdžiu, (pérsti) ‘furzen’
      • alb. pjerdh ‘furzt’
    • Perfekt *pe-pórd/pr̥d-
      • gr. att. πέπορδα ‘furze’4
      • [an. frat ‘furzte’
    • Essiv ?*pr̥d-h₁i̯é-
      • russ. (+) peržú, (perdét‘) ‘furzen’

      1 Oder Präs. [...]
      2 Schlecht belegt, fast nur DhP, aber vgl. hindī (+) pādnā [...]
      3 Mit wohl tabubedingter Metathese.
      4 Präsentische Funktion!


  • *pesd1 ‘(leise) furzen, fisten’ IEW 829
    • Präsens *pésd-e-
      • lat. pēdō, -ere ‘furzen’
      • lit. bezdù, (bezdė́ti) ‘fisten’2
    •           *p(e)sd-éi̯e-
      • ?gr. βδέω ‘furze leise, fiste’3
      • [slov. (+) pəzdím, (pəzdẹ́ti) ‘fisten’4
    • Neibildungen: Perfekt
      • lat. pepēdī ‘furzte’

      1 Einzelsprachlich in der R(z) auch assimiliert bzd- (> gr. bd-), von wo aus *b auch in die R(e) verschleppt werden kann; vgl. *pesdi- in mhd. vist m. ‘Fist’ = gr. πέζις ‘Bovist’.
      2 Mit b nach der R(z).
      3 Allerdings spricht Aor. βδέσαι (wenn nicht sekundär) für eine (nominale?) Basis *bdes-.
      4 Sekundär in die ĕ/i-Klasse eingegliedert; auch mit assimiliertem b in russ. bzdet‘, čech. bzdíti.

(Unclosed square bracket [ means ‘secondary or indirectly related form’; (+) means ‘and other languages in the same subgroup’; R(e/z) means ‘root with e or without ablauting vowel.)

(There goes my multinational Google rating.)

(I’m actually working with LIV1 + LIV Add. Interestingly, the entries for these roots needed no correcting for the second edition.)

Indeed, the roots are remarkably widely preserved. There’s some nice sound play at work: the emission is expressed starting with bilabial stop /p/ and ending with dental /d/, the loud emission with a trill /r/, the more polite act with a sibilant /s/. Sound law gets us fart straightforwardly from *perd: *p ... d > f ... t by Grimm’s Law.

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