Remote Origins: The Case of "Water Towns", of Olbicella, and of Root *alb-


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This paper is an intermediate version of the first application of the Convergence Theory to the Indo-European Linguistics and outlines a new applied epistemological aspect of the same Convergence Theory, that is aimed at develop a potentially “homogeneous” vision between the different approaches in the field of the Indo-European Linguistics. This work tries to “reconstruct” a sort of Italian and European “macro-area” (or “micro-area”) characterized by places names linked to the word-root *alb-, with a delineation of the “semantic steps” produced, over the centuries, by the same word-root, following a potential all-embracing approach. It seems that Paleo-Ligurian place names of the type Alba, old European river names Albis and the like, as well as their ablauting forms Olb- (> Orb- in Romance Ligurian), do not reflect directly the proto-Indo-European adjective *albho-, 'white'; rather, they all seem to continue a pre-proto-Indo-European extended root *Hal-bh-, 'water', cognate with the Sumerian ḫalbia (> Akkadian ḫalpium, 'spring', 'well', 'water mass', 'water hole'). A further analysis of the same *Hal-bh-, moreover, leads to a comparison with the proto-Indo-European root *Hal-, 'nourish'. The proto-Indo-European suffixed form *HwaH-r-, 'water', then, seems to exhibit a similar diffusion. As told above, this work is aimed at the “reconstruction” of a toponymic “macro-area” (or “micro-area”, depending on the points of view) related to the word-root *alb- and to the “semantic steps” linked to the same word-root, with regard, especially, to the Northern Italy (and, secondarily, to the Europe), developing – remaining in the specific case of pre-Latin (pre-Indo-European, proto-Indo-European, and Indo-European) Toponymy – this onomastic aspect of the Convergence Theory in relation to the different approaches of the Indo-European Linguistics (the Indo- European / Glottological, the pre-Indo-European, the pan-Indo-European, the pan-Semitic, the Paleolithic Continuity Paradigm / Paleolithic Continuity Theory / Teoria della Continuità, the Vasconic Substratum Theory, the Glottalic Theory, for example). The Convergence Theory, in fact, is mainly aimed at develop a potentially “homogeneous” vision between the different above mentioned approaches in the field of the Indo-European Linguistics, without emphasizing any one in particular, but trying to outline an all-embracing reconstruction that takes into account each of the scientific achievements of the other considered Theories. This paper, therefore, is a theoretical work with applied implications both in the ambit of Toponymy / Toponomastics, and in the field of Semantics, with a specific focus on the delineation of an “ideal map” related to the notion of “water” and on the identification of “water places” in the analyzed area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-123
Number of pages18
JournalAnalele Universitatii din Craiova - Seria Stiinte Filologice, Lingvistica
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Indo-European
  • Olbicella
  • Pre-Proto-Indo-European
  • Toponymy
  • Toponomastics


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