I encountered a contradiction between two respectful monographs.

Mallory gives the word as h2/3u̯obhseh2 thus excluding h1 while de Vaan gives totally opposite version, h1u̯obhseh2 thus excluding h2 and h3. I wonder who is right? What do say the primary sources?

In other words the both sources also differ similarly.

  • I think Mallory has more than the common 3 laryngals or at least something like "ha" in addition. He seems to represent an older tradition of the laryngal theories. And de Vaan has *(h1)uebh- 'to weave' as underlaying root.
    – user2498
    Oct 9, 2013 at 12:05
  • @aorists Mallory asserts that in the root for weave there also should be h2/3
    – Anixx
    Oct 9, 2013 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


The word for 'wasp' does not require a laryngeal:

Middle Persian wpz, Lat. vespa, Welsh gwychi, Old English wæfs, Lith. dial. vapsà, Russian osá are all compatible with *uobʰs-h₂-

The only reason to reconstruct a laryngeal is if you assume the word is derived from 'to weave' (seeing wasps as 'weavers' of their nests), but this is not evident.

The word for 'weave': The evidence for a *h₁ in this word the Mycenean future participle e-we-pe-se-so-me-na 'that must be woven', attested once:

pa-we-a₂ e-we-pe-se-so-me-na WOOL 20 'twenty woolen cloaks to be woven'

The alternative interpretation as 'to be well boiled' is highly improbable (see Beekes 1969: 67).

The evidence for *h₂/₃ is presumably the connection with Hitt. huppai-zi 'to blend', however this is not possible due to the fortis -pp- in Hittite, which implies IE *p, and the semantics are not that strong, either.

But once again, this is only relevant if wasps were seen as 'weavers', which is rather a speculative conjecture.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.