|Words for Metal(s)
Words for Metals
Languages of the World
and historic periods of Man
are first divided into "stone
Paleolithic (Old Stone
Neolithic (New Stone Age).
The Stone Ages are followed by the
period is the "Bronze Age",
the beginning of which is sometimes called
in east Anatolia by 6500 BC
[some researchers point to
a possible origin in the Vinca Culture]
... by the middle of the 4th millenium ... in Mesopotamia....
by 3000 BC the use of copper
was well-known in the Middle East,
had extended westward into the Mediterranean area,
and was beginning to infiltrate
the Neolithic cultures of Europe ...."
(Encyclopaedia Britannica under "Bronze Age").
The ancient terms
for the metals
are discussed by Armas Salonen
Substrata- und Kulturwoerter im
Studia Orientalia, Vol. XVII,
Salonen's lists of the ancient terms for the metals in the
Fertile Crescent, LexiLine has
based on P. Schmidt's observation
Baltic word for copper
(Latvian vars, Lithuanian varias,
indicates that it was inherited
since it is not borrowed either from the
Slavic or Germanic peoples...."
The word vars
was not "inherited" at all,
but is indigenous to
as one can see from the terms for "copper" below.
Words for Metals
added by LexiLine
KAxUD.BAR (or) UDxKA.BAR
(pronounced "varsh"), dim. VARiņš
Lithuanian varis viz. varias
Old Prussian wargien
Latvian svars "weight"
Akkadian SIPARRU Hebrew SEPER
but here with a different word root
Sumerian URUDU ?
("copper, copper colored?)
Latvian RUDU- "copper colored"
Latvian RUDVARIS (var. RUDU VARA )
Hebrew 'INBAR = AMBER
but in "the
lands of amber"
Latvian dzintars = AMBER
Lithuanian gintaras = AMBER
whereas we see a "combined" form in
where Lithuanian gin- is surely equivalent to Maltese
-bar element thus forms the second half of the word
so that -tar must be a variant of -bar
whence surely the origin of the derived Latvian tērauds "steel"
but also Hebrew NEKOSHET "copper"
Old Hindic NAGA
and Lithuanian alvas "tin"
"apply air to the fire in an oven"
svins "lead" svērte
"plumb" svars "weight"
to which compare Latvian varš "copper"
Lithuanian švinas ("lead, plumb")
Latvian zelts (ZEL.TS)
see Indo-European "color
Two Basic Roots
for the Words for Metals
When we examine
all of these ancient terms for metals,
we see that TWO basic roots are in evidence:
Metals as products
of smelting processes by fire
a first basic root of the form "BAR, VAR, PAR"
and of course this is also the root of
"iron" in Latin,
which currently has a false etymology.
The correct origin will be as in Indo-European
e.g. Latvian VĀR- "to smelt,
We also see
the current etymology for English "COP-PER"
as allegedly rooted in Greek KUPROS
"from Cyprus" is
rather, the name of Cyprus surely
derives from the
word for copper.
see that origin of the English word BRONZE
traced back thus far only to Italian bronzo,
roots which go
back much further in BAR, perhaps in a form
Latvian *BARiņš viz. VARiņš > BRONZE.
"to apply air to the fire in an oven"
Lithuanian ALVAS = tin
Old Prussian ALWIS = lead
English ALLOY and
The Latvian term thus tells us that the above words
derive from higher temperature smelting via the addition of air,
i.e. perhaps via an ancient bellows
(a pipe, tube or nozzle, French tuyau),
perhaps related in origin as a word to proto-Indo-European
e.g. Latvian caur "through" >
whence caurums "hole", through which the air was added.
It is the use of multiple air tuyeres ("air conduits")
that allows the higher temperatures found in modern metal forging.
Metals in terms of their color
a second basic root variant
which derives from "color words"
comparable to Indo-European
e.g. Latvian DZELzs "iron"
which is found
also combined with BAR
in the terms of the
ZIL- with BAR
BAR- with ZIL.
"iron" in Hebrew
but SIL.BER Germanic for "SIL.VER".
where the two world elements are simply reversed.
DZEL- viz. ZIL- is found
in the Indo-European, e.g. Latvian
color root ZIL-
meaning "blue, dark blue, shiny"
viz. ZEL- meaning "gold" or as DZEL- "yellow".
Beyond those two major roots
there are some other roots....
Metals as "clumps"
(i.e. their physical mass)
Sumerian KUK for
finds Baltic comparables in idea since
KUK- in most Latvian terms means
"clump, bud, piece".
Metals as "shiny"
(i.e. their physical appearance)
relates to words in Latvian meaning "shiny, burn".
"candle" SVEĶI "candle wax, tallow"
SVIL- SVIN- ("hot, burning, celebrating, fiery"),
here is also that
means the "resin" of trees.
All of the metal terms thus appear to go back
to only a few basic root concepts.
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