Connection with certain Indo-Iranian terms has been suggested:
- Pashayi wālī (perhaps < Proto-Indic *abalikā-)
- Sogdian ʾmʾnk (āmang?, “apple”), Munji [script needed] (āmenga), Yidgha [script needed] (amuno), Pashto [script needed] (maná, “apple”), Shughni мӯн (mūn), му̊н (mū̊n, “apple”), all < Proto-Iranian *amarnaka- ~ *amarnā-, possibly reflecting earlier *abarna/ā- (via assimilation in nasality from *b..n to *m..n), ultimately from PIE *h₂ebe/olne/eh₂-
There are several indications that the word for "apple" did not belong to the oldest layer of the Indo-European protolanguage:
- the word is limited to the West Indo-European languages
- it contains the phoneme */b/, which had marginal distribution in PIE
- it somewhat resembles the South European word for "apple" (PIE or pseudo-PIE *méh₂lom: Latin mālum, Ancient Greek μῆλον (mêlon)).
This all points that the word entered the Indo-European speech continuum some time after the dissolution of the parent language, most likely as a borrowing from Semitic, or from the same source as Semitic words such as Arabic [script needed] (ʼubullat-, “arak, fruits; dried figs pressed in a mass”) and Tigre [script needed] (ʼobäl, “tamarisk”).
Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that the Hittite cognate is [script needed] (šam(a)lu-, “apple”), which renders the original PIE form as *samlu (“apple”). The original cluster *-ml- remained as such in Anatolian but yielded *-bl- in the other IE languages with otherwise rare/non-existing phoneme */b/. Such a development is not attested anywhere else, however, and with the only sound that *h₂ébōl and [script needed] (šam(a)lu-, “apple”) have in common being */l/ the connection remains dubious. The Hittite word is furthermore identical to Hattic [script needed] (šawat, “apple, apple tree”) with the usual Hattic /t/ = Hittite /l/ correspondence, though it could easily be a borrowing from Hattic rather than vice versa.
Germanic stem variants *apal- and *apla- point to the originally archaic ablauting paradigm.
- *méh₂lom (uncertain reconstruction and semantics)
- Balto-Slavic: *āˀbōl
- Celtic: *abalom (see there for further descendants)
- Germanic: *aplaz (see there for further descendants)
- Oscan: Abella (the name of a city in Campania which Vergil calls malifera, i.e. "apple-bearing") - usually dismissed as a borrowing from a northern language though
- Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q., editors (1997) Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture, London, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, page 25f
- Kloekhorst, Alwin (2008) Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 5), Leiden, Boston: Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-16092-7, page 712f
- Kroonen, Guus (2013), “apla-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, page 31f