image of On the traces of “apples”, “plums”, and “pears”
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Wanderwords are a very common phenomenon among the languages of the world, but they are rarely discussed in detail. Their paths of spreading are often considered hardly reconstructible and their origins beyond reach, and being non-inherited, they are often ignored by the linguists working on the history of the languages involved. The present article questions both these tendencies, as it aims at exploring, as far as possible, the origins and interconnections of a series of related words referring to “apples”, “plums”, and other fruits attested in various languages and language families of the Near East. The article has two goals. First, to try to reconstruct the borrowing chains and general spread of these terms, thus going as close as possible to their putative origin. Second, to provide a test case and an illustration of a general methodological framework that can be used to study the history of such wanderwords.


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Keywords: wanderword ; Bronze Age ; loanword ; borrowings ; pear ; plum ; apple
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