An Indo-European Origin of Kartvelian Names for Two Maloid Fruits

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The four living Kartvelian languages preserve a rich, largely inherited suite of terms for cultivated fruit trees. But many identifiable Indo-European loans are present even at the level of Kartvelian unity, which leads one to wonder to what extent intercultural exchanges may be responsible for this rich Kartvelian fruit-tree terminology. Here, I propose an etymological connection between Proto-Kartvelian names for the medlar and the domestic pear and suggest that both arise from a borrowing of Late PIE *(s)h2éml- “apple, tree fruit”. I close by discussing this etymology’s implications for the chronology of IE-Kartvelian contact and for the phonetics of the PIE laryngeal *h2.

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