Wine
Posted: 27 March 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Georgians lay claim to the earliest wine making in the world.  There is archaeological evidence that supports this claim, but in a recent discussion with Georgians (over wine) I was told that there is linguistic evidence as well.  The claim is that although the word ‘wine’ shares a common root in many language groups, only in Georgian does the word for wine have a clearly traceable root.  I don’t have Georgian script, but very roughly (and with no research!), the Georgian word for wine is ghvino, with the root ghvin coming from the Georgian word ‘to bubble’ or ‘to ferment’.  This, the argument goes, is additional proof that the Georgians were the first wine makers (circa 6,000BC according to archaeological evidence).

I did a quick search on this site but couldn’t find any past discussions on the etymology of wine.  Any history of this discussion?  Considering that there are other nationalities that make similar claims to wine production, is anyone aware of similar linguistic arguments in support of their claims?  I’m guessing that the Georgian version wouldn’t hold up to much scrutiny, but it makes for a great story.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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there are other nationalities that make similar claims to wine production

Are there? As far as I know, the historical / archaeological consensus is that while conclusive evidence is lacking, Georgia looks like the best contender.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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only in Georgian does the word for wine have a clearly traceable root

No, that’s just the usual nationalistic claptrap.  The Kartvelian root of Georgian ღვინო (ghvino) is probably related somehow to the Indo-European root *woinom (which gives Greek oinos, Latin vinum, etc.), but which way the borrowing went (assuming it was borrowed rather than both being inherited from some hypothetical ancestor of both IE and Kartvelian) is unknowable.  The claptrap is recent, too, because a nineteenth-century Georgian dictionary I have says the Georgian word is borrowed from Greek.  If one wants to derive the ‘wine’ word from a verb, an equally good case can be made for the IE word being from the verbal root *wei- ‘twist,’ referring to the twisting of the vine.  But as far as we can tell without wild hypothesizing, it’s an ancient noun.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Note that even if it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, somehow, that the Georgian word for wine had an older root than any other extant word for wine, this couldn’t be considered strong evidence that they were the first winemakers.

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Posted: 28 March 2012 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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the first winemakers.

Bless ‘em, whoever they were!

...“I often wonder what the vintners buy

One half so precious as the goods they sell” (E. Fitzgerald, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam)

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Posted: 28 March 2012 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Kartvelian root of Georgian ღვინო (ghvino) is probably related somehow to the Indo-European root *woinom (which gives Greek oinos, Latin vinum, etc.), but which way the borrowing went (assuming it was borrowed rather than both being inherited from some hypothetical ancestor of both IE and Kartvelian) is unknowable.  The claptrap is recent, too, because a nineteenth-century Georgian dictionary I have says the Georgian word is borrowed from Greek.

Great feedback LH, much appreciated!  Having followed this site for as long as I have, I shouldn’t be surprised that a member has a 19th century Georgian dictionary on hand, but yet I am.  I look forward to my next roundtable with the Georgian in-laws.

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Posted: 29 March 2012 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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You might want to put it more gently than I did, though.  The Georgians are a proud race with a martial spirit.

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Posted: 29 March 2012 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And even if it can’t be proved that they were the first ever winemakers, rural Georgians are still making wine the prehistoric way - they pick the grapes and tread them barefoot in a hollowed-out log, then ladle the crushed grapes into huge narrowed-necked jars just like Bronze Age Cretan pithoi (called kwevri) completely buried in the ground, seal them and leave it for up to two years.

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