hist-brewing: Ethnological

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Sun Jan 21 09:35:15 PST 2001


Dan writes:
>The similarity of words for "mead" in the Indo-European language group
>has been used as an argument for the antiquity of mead, however, James
>Fraser (author of _The Golden Bough_) pointed out in his 1920 paper
>("Linguistic Evidence and Archaeological and Ethnological Facts") that
>the common use of the word for "mead" in Indo-European languages does
>not necessarily indicate that the word itself stood for what we think
>of when we use the word "mead."  Fraser is correct here in pointing out
>an etymological fallacy of backreading our concepts and images of "mead"
>into the interpretation of archaeological artifacts and paleolinguistics.
>Words for "mead" more likely indicated a honey based fermented beverage,
>and would include what we would call metheglyns and honey ales.  The
>broadness in what was meant by "mead" likely came about because of the
>fermentation methods of introducing yeasts from adjunct ingredients.
 
While I'm no liguist, I am Lithuanian, and in Lithuanian,
"medus" is honey and "midus" is mead.  Lithuanian is an Indo-European
language and (I'm told) isn't much younger than Sanskrit... I've even
spoken with an Indian woman who knew Sanskrit and we found some common
words.  Lithuanian is said to be the oldest, unchanged (unlike Greek)
written language.

Al.
(Algis, actually).


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