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Nostratic Languages.… / The Language and Cultural… / To the Source of Brewing at the Indo-European Peoples.

To the Source of Brewing at the Indo-European Peoples.


Indo-European, Turkic, and Finno-Ugric tribes arrived in Eastern Europe from the Caucasus in the 5th millennium BC. Here they gradually settled over a large area of the Vistula River to the Volga. In the 3rd mill. BC ancestors of the Chuvash, the ancient Bulgars, leaving their ancestral home in the Azov steppes, crossed the Dnieper and mingled with the local population Trypillian culture, inhabited the territory of modern Podolia. So they come into close contact with Indo-European tribes, which inhabited the basin of the middle Dnieper and its tributaries (see. Map to the left).

On their second homeland Indo-Europeans were not familiar with wine-making and did not know wine, living far from the places where climatic conditions allow people to engage in viticulture and winemaking. They had met with wine already during their migration to the south and south-west. Not so with the brewing. Hop, needed for the production of beer, grew in their places of settlement, at least could be cultivated. Similar words for the hops are widespread in many Indo-European and Finno-Ugric languages (Slav. *x(ŭ)melǐ, Rus. khmel’, Bulg. khmel’, Ukr. khm³l', Pol chmiel, Cz, Slvk. chmel, NGmc humli, humall, OE hymele, MLG homele, MLat. Humulus, MGr. χουμελι, Fin. humala, Hung. komló, Mansi kumli). F. Kluge refers to these words also Ger Hopfen “hops” (KLUGE FRIEDRICH. 1989). Scientists believe that the ways of spreading the name of hops are very complicated and time of its appearance in different languages is different, but they agree that a common source of borrowing should be. Some see it in the language of the Bulgars (cf. Chuv xămla “hops”), others doubt the possibility of penetration of the Bulgarish word Bulgar far in Europe. Of course, the reason for doubt is given by the idea of the late appearance of the Bulgars in Europe. However, existed close adjacency of the Bulgars with the Indo-European and later with the Finno-Ugric peoples could explain the origin of the names of both hops and some weak alcoholic beverages in many modern European languages.

Many scientists have long believed that Slavic word braga for home-brewed beer was borrowed from Celtic (cf. Irl. braich “malt”, Cymr. brag “the same”, bragod “mixed beer and honey malt”).

M. Vasmer has never seen such possibility, and connected the Slavic word with the Chuvash pεraGa “pomace” (formerly “half-beer, liquid beer") having matches to the names of the weak liquor boza/buza in other Turkic languages (VASMER MAX, 1964: 205). In fact the Old Bulgarish *bĕraga could be got by the Celtic language, directly or through Illyrian, which area shared the habitats of the Bulgars and Celts for some time (see the map of the second Indo-European ). The Illyrian language has not survived, but a similar word could have. Thus, it is possible that the initial hypothesis of borrowing the Slavic word braga from Celtic must seem fair, although it is possible that the Slavs borrowed it directly from the Bulgars, when entered into contact with them.

You can look at some similarity of the Turkic words not only with Slavic names of the braga, but also with the Germanic names of beer (cf. NGmc. bjorr, Ger. Bier, Eng. beer), which origin is still unclear. Germanic tribes in the 2nd mill thousand BC. populated the habitats of Illyrians and Italics, and thus come into contact with the Bulgars, what is evidenced by place names in the Western Ukraine, and in the Chuvash-German lexical correspondences. Germans have learned from the Bulgars to brew beer and with beer they borrowed its name. Taking into account the existence of the fricative trill rz in the Turkic and Indo-European languages, a protoform of words for calling low alcohol drinks had to sound like *borz-, from which evolved all names of beer mentioned above.

It is clear the Bulgars had another weak alcoholic drink, which technology was different from the technology of brewing, because there is a Chuv kărchama "home-brewed beer" and Tat. kärchemä “sour katyk” (the national drink). The word was got by Slavic languages and adopted in another, but the closest sense (Rus, Ukr., Blr. korchma, Bulg. krúchma, Pol karczma, Cz, Slvk. krčma and other "public house"). But this happened only later, when the Slavs were neighbors of Bulgars after the departure of the main part of the Germans in the west. Indeed, the absence of such words in the Germanic languages provides a reason to say that this drink came later. If beer needs hops, the receipt of home brew can be made with dairy products, as occurs in the making of koumiss. The last drink was not common in the Indo-Europeans, perhaps because the horse did not play a big role at them. As follows from our studies, the view of Indo-European affiliation of the tribes of Corded Ware, rapid expanded across Europe due using horses, is wrong.

It is known that another name for beer also existed in Eastern Europe, traces of which are available in Germanic and Iranian languages (Eng ale, NGmc. öl, Osset äluton and others “beer”). This word has Indo-European origin and dates back to the root *alu-, which is part of words meaning 1.“bitter”, “sour” and 2. “magic”. However, similar names are absent in other Indo-European languages (Lithuanian borrowed it from some Germanic), so that its appearance should enjoy a later time.






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