A New Young (Noble-Nibelung) King‏

Donald RingeThe PGmc. *k of these forms is not surprising, because that is the expected outcome of PIE *ǵ (or velar *g, for that matter); and we expect *r to survive without change in Germanic. But the vowel of the root doesn’t fit; inherited *ē should have remained *ē in PGmc.  and in Gothic, becoming *ā in all the other daughters (with various further devel­opments, especially in OE).

When Proto-Germanic *rik- is in question, I would say that Ringe is making a mistake by observing only words related to king in this case. Namely, the PIE root *h3reg- (or Hor-Gon basis in my HSF) gives an enormous number of derivatives in all IE languages. For instance, Gothic raíhts (Recht) is a “counterpart” word with Celtic *rektu- (Old Irish recht, Welsh rhaith) and German Reich/reich is clearly related to Recht (right) and Richtung (direction) because that meanings were shifted from Reihe (raw) and Ordnung (order; this may be a borrowing from Latin ordo -inis line, raw, order, but not ultimately). All these words must be carefully examined before any final conclusion is reached. Compare Serbian words red (row, line; Russ. rяd; Cz. řada, řádek; Pol. rząd), uređenje (system, arrangement; Cz. po-řádek; Russ. po-rяdok; po-rządek), uredno (orderly), na-ređenje, na-rediti (order; Cz. na-řídit); do they not sound like the Latin loan-words? But they are not from Latin, they are clearly inherited Slavic words. If a Serb says “sve je u redu” it means “it’s all right” (Ger. alles in Ordnung). When something is properly arranged (Serb. uređeno) it must be right (Serb. u redu, uredno). Sometimes things are more simply “arranged” than anyone would have ever supposed. For instance, who would say that English empire (from Latin imperito -are) is an analogous word to Slavic poredak (system; from po-ređati to line up).

As I said before, I am convinced that wovels have no big/significant importance in studying the history of words. Wovels seem to be just necessary “tools” to make words shift/pass from one meaning to another (Serb. uraditi work, urediti arrange, uriktati put in order; Ger. Reihe row, Recht right, Richting direction). Who would suppose that Greek παράδεισος (paradise, heaven) is also related to Slavic poredak (system) and Latin im-perito? Serbian raj (paradise; Russ. raй, raek; Cz. raj; OSl. rai) is nothing else but an “arrayed area” (Serb. uređen kraj).

PIE *gwḗn ‘woman’ (OIr. bé, Jasanoff 1989) >→ PGmc. *kwēniz ‘wife’ > Goth. qens, ON kván, OS quān, OE cwēn;

Don Ringe

There is a well-established “scientific” belief that Slavic knez (prince; OSlav. kъnѩѕь) is a Germanic loanword (Vasmer p. 2,266.). The following analysis is showing that such an assertion is completely unsubstantiated and essentially wrong. In addition, this could possible be an indirect proof that Don Ringe’s assumption about Celtic loan-words in Germanic couldn’t be more reliable than the above-mentioned Vasmer’s statement about *kuninggaz => knez relation.

Here, I suppose, it would be interesting to mention the Serbian words knez (count, lord, prince, duke; Russ. knяzь; Cz. kníže) and kneginja (princess; Russ. knяginя, knяžna; Ger. Königin; Pol. księżniczka; Cz. kněžna). Now let us compare Slavic words for book (Serb. knjiga book, knjižica booklet; Pol. książka, książeczka book, booklet; Russ. knižečka booklet; Cz. kniha, knížka) with the above mentioned Slavic words for prince and princess. What can we see? Is there anything here beside the pure phonetic resemblance and analogous morphology? What is that that Serbian kneževina (principality; Pol. księstwo; Russ. knяžestvo; Cz. knížectví) may have in common with the Serbian word književnost (literature)? Are these two words anything more than lookalikes? On the other hand, in what mutual relations are the English words, count, know, and king? Why count is at the same time the act of counting and a noble man? Might it not be related to English king (Ger. König) and the verb know (Ger. kennen)? What about possible kinship among the Serbo-Slavic words znanje (knowledge), nauka (science), knez (prince) and knjiga (book), on one side, and the above mentioned Germanic words on the other? Also, there seems to be a clear parallel to English words duke (from Lat. dux leader; ducere lead) and education (Lat. ex-ducere lead out)? Now we can suppose that king was not only the ruler and the one who oppressed his people (cf. Ger. Knecht servant; Serb. ugnjeten oppressed; kmet servant; from knet; ultimately from goniti chase, drive, prosecute), but he also was the leader, the one who teaches, educates, counts… Nevertheless, is it possible that English teacher (again Latin ducere, dicere, dictio) is related to Serbian douka (teach), dokaz (evidence, token, testimony), dokučiti (to find out, see through), tečaj (cours; from teknuti, teći flow) and učiti (learn, teach). Of course, all these words go back to the ur-form *(h)obli-gn or to the PIE root *bhleugh- (hence Serb. oblinuti/obliti suffuse; from ob-h-liti, h-linuti, s-linuti, d-linuti, and obučiti teach, educate). As we can see, we need here an in-depth phonetic expertise in order to be able to describe all the phonetic mutations that occurred in these examples.

For instance, Serbian odlučiti (decide; odluka decision) is the “older” form of the Serbian verb tumačiti (comment, inerpret; Ger. dolmetschen interpret) and is related to English talk and Russian tolkovatь (interpret). Let us now concentrate on the PIE root for talk and tale – *del- (Pokorny 1. del- 193). Can we not say that English teach belongs to the same group of words as tale and talk? No we cannot because teach is derived from the PIE root *deig-! Yeah, but why talken (talk) wouldn’t be related to token and Serbian dokaz (Cz. důkaz token, evidence, argument; Russ. dokazatelьstvo evidence, dokazыvatь to assert) and odluka (issue, evidence, judgment, verdict, decision; odlučiti (decide, determine). Why wouldn’t Latin decisio -onis (decision) be related to Slavic dokaz (evidence, proof) and what is the history of the Latin word documentum (evidence). Greek δοκῐμάζω (approve, test, assay) appeared to be the same word as Latin documentum. Serbian dokazivanje (proving) is the same word as doznavanje or doznati (get knowledge; from dognavati, dognati; i.e. cognate (!) to Lat. cognitio!). Also, if we compare English knowledge and the Serbian adjective znalački (knowingly) we will see that these two words are structured in the same way.

Above analysis should (and must) go much deeper and for that hundreds of pages wouldn’t be enough, but in this specific case I tried just to make some outline “inspection” of the words that potentially could be related to king and queen. Next word that can capture our attention is the word noble! Surprisingly, here we may mention the Egyptian god Kneph (also known as Chnoubis, Chnoumis, Chnouphis, Nebo, Naba, Nechi, Necho), who appears to be related not only to our king/knez but also to wisdom; i.e. knowledge and znanje (by Eusebius he is identified with the Logos; Jamblichus identifies him with Brahma since he says of him that “this god is intellect itself”). How it happen that Ethiopian negus (king) is present in Serbian language today, in the name of a town Njeguši (best known as birth place of Serbian’s royal dynasty of Petrović in Montenegro. Actually, it seems that Serbian Njegoš/Njegoš is the same word as English king, German König or Serbian knez/knjaz. The other name that could be helpful in this case is Serbian name Nemanja, which could go back to Nebo (sky; from nasalized NeMbagna, something close Nabunaid, king of Babylon), which also could be related to Noah (New Man, Serb. Novak; from novo new; Neu Man). This shows too that the Germans might not have been called Nemci in Slavic in accordance with the Slavic word for mute (nem), but in accordance with the word know (Serb. znati Gr. γνωσις, γνομε knowledge, skillfulness).

If queen is related to Greek γῠνή (woman; Serb. žena, ženka) than king must be related to Greek κυνηγία (hunt, chase; Serb. goniti chase, gonič hunter). We shall see that Greek κυνηγός (huntsman) sounds almost the same as PGerm. *kuninggaz (OE cyning; Goth. kuniggs). Slavic knez (OSlav. kъnѩѕь) is also the above mentioned gonič (hunter). Originally, knez is hunter (Serb. ženik bridegroom) who chase/hunts the woman (Serb. žena, ženka). In Russian, knjaz’ (knяzь) has the additional meaning (possible related to English knave) – bridegroom (Russ. ženih; Serb. ženik, mlado-ženja). Now we can see that Slavic knez may be compared to Serbian neženja (bachelor, neženjen unmarried), and it shows that neženja comes from earlier *gnegenja or *gnaganja. What really happened here? Could it be possible that English young (OE geong) is related to king and then to Slavic neženja (bachelor, unmarried young man).

Now we are going to prove something what at first sight looks completely impossible. Namely, comparing the Latin word iuvenis (young) with German jung and Russian юnый (young) we might have logically supposed that these words are closely related; but the question is how? In our everyday speech the word young can be often replaced with new (Latin novus fresh, joung, new; Serb. nov; Russ. novый;Cz. nový; Serb. pri-nova a newborn child). Is it not amaizing? There must be something in it: if Latin novus is derived from novellus (cf. Serb. novajlija a new one, fresh) then juvenis must have previously sounded as *juvelnis (*jubelgnih; from *g(n)ubelgnih). Hindi navayuvā or naujavāna (youngster; literally “new young”) is a compound word of nāva (new, young) + javāna or yuvā (young; cf. Hind. śāvaka young, jīvana live; Serb. živahan quick, jovial, lively). One of the possible evidences that proposed ur-form *g(n)ubelgnih is correct (or close to correct) is the Serbian noun ob-navljanje (re-newing) and English novelty: i.e. the above mentioned Latin novellus (young, fresh, new). And the first thing we have to do when we meet a novelty (or a new thing) is… what? Yes, you are right, we must name it! In many IE languages the word for name is derived from the PIE root PIE *nomn-. English adverb namely is Serbian naime (namely). Serbian naimeno-vati (to give a name, assign, denominate) is analogous to English naming. Naturally, there is nothing unusual in it, but if we say that English name is at the same time related to the Serbian verb zvati/zivkati/zovnuti (call, name) it must be totally unexpected. This Serbian word (zvati call) and its numerous forms as zovnuti, zov, zivkati, zvuk (sound) etc., shows in the best way that vowels are of very little importance for the understanding of history of any specific word.

Above mentioned Serbian naimenovati (to name) and naime (namely) are prefixed forms of the noun ime (name; Russ. imя; Cz. jméno; Pol. imię; Slv. meno; OSl. imѩ), na-ime (”on name”). It means that Serbo-Slavic ime lost its “laryngeal”, which from its own side was born from the gn cluster (similar as in Latin nobilis, from gnobilis “knowable”) and sounded likewise Greek γνώμη; i.e. PSlav. *gnime => *hime => jime => ime (name). Now it becomes clear that Greek γνώμη (the faculty of knowledge, opinion) and Latin gnobilis (noble, knowable; knowledgeable) are cognates and it clearly indicates that “gnome” was born from “gnobe”, probably through the nasalization (gnoMb- => gnom-). Slavic synonym for ime (name) is naziv (appellation, name, term, title; Pol. nazwa, Russ. nazvanie, Czech název;OSl. zъvati, zovѫ call; Serb. zvati call; Skt. hava-s/hávatē call, Avest. zavaiti; Hind. āhvana call; Serb. zvanje calling), and that word’s -ziv morpheme (from na-ziv name), as well as its unprefixed forms (zov call, zvanje calling, vocation and zvuk sound) were derived from the same above-mentioned ur-basis *g(n)ubelgnih, just like all the words from different IE languages we were considered here.

Roman preanomen Gnaeus or Cnaeus sounds like Serbian Knez. Is it just a chance resemblance or is it something more than that? Gnaeus is believed to be derived from Etruscan Cneve (also Cnaive), Oscan and Old Latin Gnaivos, wich preserved the sound /v/ that is replaced in Roman Gnaeus with /u/. Does it not suggest that Slavic/Serbian knez is subjected to the similar process (knez from knevs)? In an attempt to find solution to this “mystery” we started from the ancient Egyptian “intellectual” god Kneph (Logos) or Babylonian Nabu/Nebo (god of wisdom and writing; Roman Neptun?) and then we “visited” the Ethiopian sovereign Negus (probably from Nevgus, with the loss of the initial k/g; Knevgus => Negus). Also we mentioned the Babylonian king Nabunaid whose name is present even today in Serbian personal name Nemanja (from G/NeMb(l)agna; related to nebo heaven; Goebel; Gnabel, Nabel, Nobel). Finally, why wouldn’t we go to the North of Europe and visit the Danish prince Hnæf whose name reminds us of the Egyptian god Kneph. Hnæf was the prince of the Germanic people of Nibelungs (ON Niflung; Niblung; Hniflung-r). If we now compare the supposed proto-word for “king” – *g(n)ubelgnih we will see that all the above mentioned words perfectly fit into such an assumed basis. Serbian konjanik (cavalier, horseman) sounds almost the same as Dutch koning or Swedish konung (king) and it happened because konjanik also is derived from *g(n)ubelgnih basis (Gon-Bel-Gon in HSF), from kopljanik (lancer), in accordance with Latin caballus and Slavic *komen (konj horse; from koMbljen; cf. Serbo-Slavic kobila mare; ORuss. komonь). The things are appearing to be clear here, you cannot be a noble man (GNibelung) without the lancer (Serb. koplje) and horse and it shows that horse was named in accordance to his horseman (cavalier; k/noble, kopljanik; caballus, kobila) and not vice versa. Finally, knowledge belongs to elite or g/nobility.

As for queen, she might have been derived from the word king; i.e. from an earlier form which sounded like kneva (metathesis kvena; kneva => kvena => queen).

Dušan Vukotić



Explore posts in the same categories: Comparative Linguistics, Germanic languages

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