Previous posts in the series:
The following post is not about a sword or other type of weapon per se, but in terms of its ancient Eurasian outlook, it arguably belongs in the series:
"Of felt hats, feathers, macaroni, and weasels " (3/13/16)
Today's offering was suggested by this note from Ron Kim, commenting on the first post in the series:
This would hardly be a unique case of a so-called Wanderwort for a word denoting useful weaponry: one thinks at once of the 'ax'-word, which in various forms, mainly the metathesized pVrVt and tVpVr, has spread over much of Eurasia. The p-initial variant is attested in Greek pelekús, Old Indo-Aryan paraśú-, Old Persian paraθu-, and Ossetic færæt, Toch. B peret, A porat (probably a very early borrowing from Iranian; see my first ever published paper in Tocharian and Indo-European Studies [TIES] 8 ), and outside IE in Akkadian parašu- (I think); the t-initial variant underlies Russian topor and many other forms in Finnic languages, if I recall correctly.
As for this word for 'sword', am I not right that the loanwords in Balto-Slavic and Ostseefinnisch point to an early borrowing from Germanic, which suggests the possibility that a certain kind of technologically innovative sword may be involved? Early (East) Germanic borrowings into Balto-Slavic were already investigated in Neogrammarian times, and I think of them whenever I use words like 'bread' or 'kettle'.
Asko Parpola remarks:
Topór is the Russian word for ax. It has been borrowed into Finnish in the form tappara. In Russian the accentless first o is pronounced as a.
In Chinese, we have at least three words for ax: fǔ 斧, qī 戚, and yuè 鉞. Even before considering the latter two and reflecting upon what kind of ax they might be, I immediately thought that fǔ 斧 is very likely to be the same Eurasian word as that discussed by Ron Kim above.
Axel Schuessler's OS reconstruction is *paʔ and that of Baxter and Sagart is *p(r)aʔ. In his Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese: A Companion to Grammata Serica Recensa, p. 60, Schuessler gives the Tibeto-Burman root *r-pa 'axe'.
More than three decades ago, before I knew that so many languages share pVrVt / tVpVr words for "ax", I was already on the trail of a common word for this weapon / tool because I had noticed the prevalence of what archeologists call the "socketed celt" from one side of Eurasia to the other during Bronze Age times. I don't know for certain what the ancient Chinese term for "socketed celt" was, but I suspect that it might have been fǔ 斧 (*paʔ / *p(r)aʔ). Likewise, the words for "ax" in all of the other languages mentioned above may have actually been referring to the socketed celt.
One thing we can be sure of is that the Bronze Age weapon / tool in question could not have been called a "celt" in any language of the time, since that would be both anachronistic and a lapsus calami. See the explanation here.
Whether the pVrVt / tVpVr words and fǔ 斧 (*paʔ / *p(r)aʔ) are actually referring to the co-called socketed celt or to some other kind of "ax", it seems to me that there is a very good likelihood that they are related to each other.
More to come.
[Thanks to Asko Parpola, Axel Schuessler, Rod Campbell, and Chris Button]