A Long List of CR Words
Car, ‘a wanderword of uncertain provenance.’
In the three previous chapters we have been playing with short wordlists. Using RB as the root we tracked the robe to the seal skin cloak fashionable in Germany at least two thousand years ago, and identified the original robber as a northern seal hunter. We might have been able to do this without Radical technology as in this case there are historical clues. The evidence of the RB list served to confirm the link and to provide further ideas about the evolution of clothing and other topics. In the case of the Lame King there were no other clues of any kind and the lexical evidence provided by the LM short list was decisive. The LM word list, though limited, was very varied and produced an unexpected view of a Palaeolithic hunting technique which made a considerable contribution to language and then vanished without other trace. After this discovery it was disappointing to discover that the Grail was a modest piece of medieval kitchen equipment. Had there been any greater depths to the object, as named, we would have found them.
These three short lists provided answers to our questions as well as a lot of peripheral information but they gave us no insights into language as a whole. The next investigation is quite different: for the CR long list represents a complete, discrete sector of language. The six essential consonants of the TEC B, M, C, D, L and R provide a reliable structure for almost every word in every European language. As we saw in the first chapter, they also give 36 disyllabic or double roots (figure 1.2) of which one is CR. If we imagine all the words in Europe making up a round deep pie cut up into 36 portions, the CR list is one of these portions, reaching from the crust on the top down to the pastry at the bottom.
The potential of the CR long list was shown right away by the word car. Was it a primitive sledge, a horse drawn vehicle, a piece of rolling stock, a string of beads, a family saloon, your dearest friend, none of these or all of these? The correct answer is that a car has been all of these things and many more. The native Gaelic of Scotland, a country where tribal deer drives were still organised in 1715 and where the last wolf survived until 1743,1 has at least fifty distinct meanings for this one word.
cr ‘friend, relation; mossy plain, fen’.
car ‘twist, bend, turn; winding, meandering; trick, fraud; way, course; bar of music; motion, movement; revolutio michael kors outlet n; string of beads, pearls, etc.; contact, neighbourhood; direction; throw; circular motion; care; plait, fold’.
cr ‘cart, car, raft for carrying things on’.
cra ‘leg, haunch; jaw; hog’s cheek’.
carach ‘cunning, sly, wily, tricking; meandering, whirling, circling; changeable, unstable; acute’.
craidh ‘pair, couple, brace; twins; married couple; defences’.
crr ‘itch, mange; rocky shelf; a projecting part of a rock; scald; scurvy; leprosy; sledge, dray, chariot; flesh of a whale or seal’.
Irish also has a range of themes:
carr ‘mouth, face, grimace; michael kors outlet a rough surface or skin, scum, scab, scurvey’.
carr ‘spear, lance, pike staff, shaft, haft, cross beam of a harp, fig. a harp’.
carr ‘car, dray, wagon, sliding car or sleigh, “horse” or frame’.
To investigate the contents of the CR segment of the pie I assembled a word list based on the roots CR, GR, SR, HR and (vowel) R in other words, all the consonantal variants of TEC 3 combined with R. I included a handful of words which rely on the old P/Q and L/R equivalences (discussed in the first chapter) which seemed to be of particular interest.
Some eight hundred CR words were found in European and a few Asian languages and allocated to nine categories. These categories seem to be self evident. Others could no doubt be used and might change the argument to some extent but in most cases there is little doubt that these categories represent a number of CR words. The main uncertainty is the allocation of words between hunters and farmers but the Gaelic words by definition were used by hunters and we can assume that other words of similar meaning in other languages were as well. Since the hunting lexicon came first, by a long way, it is logical to believe that farmers borrowed from it when they needed to we found a few cases of hunting names used for new items in the LM list. Rounding up and butchery were important activities in farming communities but farmers used words unchanged from the preceding or contemporary hunting culture. There was in any case no abrupt change: hunters began to grow crops and farmers continued to hunt in their spare time. CR words which are specific to farming are few in number and assorted in sense which suggests that the CR root was used mainly by hunters.
Categories of the CR long list.
2. Symmetry An appreciation of symmetry and balance is already apparent in Acheulian handaxes made by Homo erectusin the Early Palaeolithic. Symmetry balances a stone implement in use and makes it more accurate as a projectile. The words in this category show us the concept expanding to embrace many other aspects of symmetry: the two halves of a necklace, the jaw, the beloved other. The symmetrical car is often heart shaped. E. pair is the P cognate.
3. Hunting These words suggest that hunters were the unmarried men of an extended family and that they hunted by driving animals into an ambush or trap where large numbers might be killed (carnage). Very little imagination is needed to envisage animals being driven into a narrow opening. The original car may have been a symmetrical cleft. Boggy ground also served as a trap. Sp. cerca gives lexical support to the prehistoric use of hurdles to direct and contain driven animals, both wild and domesticated. The art of war got its lexicon, its weapons, and much else from hunting, but words relating to warfare are scarce here.
4. Farming As discussed above, farmers invented very few CR words. Even corn and grain are liable to date to the Stone Age. But ploughing was a definite novelty. The first certain sign of the traction plough is in the Bronze Age. Clark noted that before oxen were used for wheeled transport they were used to pull ploughs2. Various other animals horses, reindeer and dogs pulled the earlier sledges from which the plough and harrow evolved.
6. Transport The parallel meanings and evolution of the word suggest that the car, a cognate of E. pair, was a symmetrical A frame sledge. Prehistoric art shows sledges made of two poles fitted with cross bars for the luggage and a T bar at the front for traction. This was supplied by two oxen or, in more marginal areas, by horse, reindeer, cow, dog or human agency. This in itself is enough to suggests a Palaeolithic development.
The ‘quadrilateral signs’ in various painted caves may be designs for prototype hurdles or sledges.3 At Lascaux (Dordogne) these designs are dated to c.17,000 BP. At Castillo (Santander) there are pictures dated to c.14,000 BP which might be double runner sledges or some kind of trap. Breuil believed, and Clark thought it possible, that the barred triangles on rock paintings of the late bronze age, in the Spanish province of Badajoz, represent sliding vehicles4. These paintings also show carts with two parallel sides, cross spar michael kors outlet s and two wheels and at least one four wheeled wagon.
The addition of a single wheel to the A frame converted it into a wheel barrow while the addition of two wheels made it into a cart. The addition of four wheels to a secondary raft or trailer created a wagon, with the original A frame persisting as a coupling mech michael kors outlet anism. Sledges continued in use until quite recently to move bulky and heavy loads of wood, hay, and peat and in coal mines to move coal. The hearse used to transport the dead is a CR word which goes back to the A frame sledge used to transport dead animals. This line of evolution, both linguistic and mechanical, continues to the present day. The car is also linked to boats and to farming equipment. The harrow is an adaptation of an A frame sledge.
Words for smaller containers are liable to be earlier than those for wheeled vehicles or shipping since baskets and leather bags were attached to sledges to contain particulate loads.