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Asunto: el plomo de hispania
Fecha:Sabado, 16 de Noviembre, 2002  01:29:07 (+0100)
Autor:David Sanchez <davius_sanctex>

As I have argued before, the Iberian peninsula was in Antiquity a main
source of metals in general and lead in particular.  The two pre- or
para-Celtic (Indo-European in any case) words for "lead", *plowdhom
(*plowdhia:) and *bli:wom (or *bli:wa:) [the latter only attested in
Germanic, but borrowed from Celtic if from PIE *bhle:w-] would in
Iberian (whose phonotactics are known to be like those of Basque) have
given *bolobdo (no /p/, no initial clusters, no /w/) and *bilibo (no
initial clusters, no /w/).  Not surprisingly the two got mixed up in
Iberia into something like *bolib(d)o or *bolub(d)o, from which the
Greeks got their word, attested as <molubdos> ~ <bolubdos> (Att.) ~
<molibos> (Hom.) ~ <bolimos> (Epid.) ~ *<bolibos> (Rhod.).  A form
*belumbo (from the same source, or from Latin?) could well be
ancestral to Basque <berun> "lead" (if from Latin, it would have to be
a very early borrowing, as in later loanwords pl- gives l-, e.g.
<pluma> "feather" > Bq. <luma>).

The data:
- Celtic word for 'lead'is the form *loud-, with the tell-tale loss of *p-, was borrowed into Proto-Germanic as *laud-a- 'lead' (also 'plummet' or 'solder'), hence OE le:ad, MHG lo:t, etc.
- In German we have <Blei> (OHG blîo) and Danish <bly> (ON blý) don't belong to the "plumbum" set. They go back to *bli:wo: < *bHli:-wa:, which seems to have been a colour word, 'livid, bluish' (cf. Lith. blývas).
-The Greek word for 'lead' is more obscure. The early forms are <molibos> and <molubdos>. If IE, it may be a derivative of *mlh2- or *mol(h2)-u- 'soft' (cf. Gk. malakos < *ml.h2-ko-). Compare Skt. mRdukRs.n.a:yasa- (= mRdu- + kRs.n.a-ayas-) 'lead' (literally 'soft iron'). Anyway, I can't see how it could be plausibly related to <plumbum>, with which it shares only the occurrence of ..m..l..b.. in the wrong order -- hardly a solid basis for an etymological equation.