Proto-Indo-European Culture

Dear Dennis:

Rosemary asked me to pass on the following passage from J.P. Mallory’s
“In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archeology and Myth” (which is
actually a good book).

“Our review of Proto-Indo-European culture omits volumes that have been
written about the reconstructed vocabulary, since much falls under the
category of predictable phenomena or else items not readily retrievable by
the prehistorian from any other source other than language. Day, night,
earth, sky, clouds, sun, moon and star can all be found in the reconstructed
Proto-Indo-European vocabulary. We may be confident that the
Proto-Indo-Europeans were physically similar to us and that many of their
anatomical parts are linguistically retrievable through the comparison of
Indo-European languages. Indeed, it is bizarre recompense to the scholar
struggling to determine whether 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, Lithuanian perdzu, Russian perdet’,
Albanian pjerdh ‘to fart loudly’ (distinguished from Proto-Indo-European
*pezd- ‘to break wind softly’).”


RobertProto-Indo-European CultureE-Mail)

Not one, but two different words for breaking wind. Ah… this… THIS is why I became an English professor!