chapter  11
The lexicon
Pages 24

Concern with the structure of Proto-Indo-European and the early dialects has always seemed more attractive to linguists than attention to the lexi­ con; but the difficult work of assembling the data was begun early in the course of Indo-European studies. August Pott (1802-87) is the acknowl­ edged pioneer in the effort. In his Etymologische Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Sprachen (1833-6) he set out to determine the words that could be identified for the early period of the family. His work must be credited as well for directing attention to phonology, which led to greater accuracy in representing forms. However, even the enlarged second edition (10 vols, 1859-76) suffers from the persistent notion that etymology, according to its early meaning, seeks out the true (Greek etumos) meaning of words. Pott’s work was superseded by the Worterbuch der indogermanischen

Grundsprache in ihrem Bestande vor der Volkertrennung (1868) of August Fick (1833-1916). It was planned as a dictionary of Proto-Indo-European and the early dialects. While not extensive in its treatment of the stock of roots nor of the bibliography, the fourth edition (1890) is still useful, especially for the volumes on individual subgroups. These include diction­ aries of the proto-language, of the Aryan and the Western European subgroups, as well as separate volumes on the lexicon of the period of Celtic unity by Stokes and Bezzenberger (1894; see Fick 1890) and that of the Germanic by Torp (1909; see Fick 1890). Meillet refers to it in his bibliographical section (1937: 490-1), with criticisms, however, on defi­ ciencies in phonology. Fick’s dictionary of the proto-language was superseded in turn by the

Vergleichendes Worterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen of Alois Walde, edited by Julius Pokorny (1927-32), which is now the standard lexical handbook. While, as Meillet notes (1937: 491), it inevitably includes errors of detail and incomplete coverage, it is also “rich in facts.” Pokorny’s subsequent rearrangement by the Latin alphabet rather than by Sources for this chapter: Whitney (1885), Persson (1912), Walde and Pokorny (1927-32), Buck (1949), Pokorny, (1959-69, 1989), Watkins (1985).