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Sweet Sevda(h)

February 3, 2010

The second annotation I made in my White Wedding article was sevdah, a turcism (Turkish loanword)  in Serbian. Abdulah Škaljić wrote a comprehensive book on Turkish loanwords in Serbo-Croatian  (Turcizmi u srpsko-hrvatskom jeziku, 1966, p. 561), and there he said that Serbian sevdah ‘love, love longing’ came from Turkish sevda ‘love’, via Arabic sawdā ‘black, black bile’. I think, such etymology of the word sevdah may hardly be acceptable, because there is nothing in Arabic what could possible suggest any connection between the real meaning of that word and ‘love’. On the contrary, sawdā means just ‘black’  (aswad aw abyad ‘black and white’; bilad al-sudan ‘the land of the blacks’), although it have another additional meaning in philosophical sense: black humor or black bile (based on humoral theory of Hippocratic school, later refined by Galen and Avicenna).  According to this theory, white  or colorless body fluid was named phlegma (Arab. balgham; word probably related to Serb. belina ‘whiteness’, beličast/belkast ‘whitish’  and Eng. bleach; from PIE *bhel-), the yellow one was safrá ‘yellow, bile’ (safár esh shams ‘yellowness of sun’), the red one was blood (dam or khun), etc.

Škaljić also mentioned verses from a folk love-song,  Snijeg pade drumi zapadoše (Snow fell, roads closed): ostala ti udovica mama, udala se za prvog sevdaha” (your mother be widowed, and remarried  to her first love). These folk songs are known among the people of Bosnia and Serbia as sevdalinke (love songs). At first sight, everything seems to be known: the Turks took that word from the Arabs, while the Serbs loaned the same word from the Turks, with some “local’ rearrangements done  by adding the final –h. Nevertheless, there are some vague things about the Turkish word sevda ‘love’. First one is the above mentioned discrepancy between the meanings of this word in Arabic and Turkish. The second “problem” is the existence of the words sevgi ‘love’, sevecen ‘loving’ and sevgili ‘loved, darling, beloved’ in Turkish (sf. Turkm. söýgi ‘love’, söýli ‘beloved’, Uzb. sevgi ‘love’, sevgili ‘beloved’), because these words (taking in consideration their meanings and the phonetic “closeness”) may belong to the same “root” as sevda. So, supposedly, we cannot reject the possibility that Turkish sevda may be derived from the same basis as IE words for “sweet” (*sweh-du; cf. Skr. svādú ‘sweet, Lat. suavis -e ‘sweet, pleasant’ ). The final sound ‘h’ in sevda-h, which allegedly has been added to the “Turkish stem” in Serbian, doesn’t look convincing enough. Namely, there are many Serbian words with a similar morphology. For example, uzdah ‘sigh’, predah ‘respite, time-out’, zadah ‘smell’, and almost all verbs when used in aorist or imperfect tense (1st p. sing. gledah, videh, radih, učih, sedeh etc.). Here the Serbian verb zavoditi may be of a special interest because in an aorist/imperfect form, which means ‘I seduced’, it sounds as zavodih or zavedoh (similar as sevdah).

Let us now make a small digression. There is a Latin  adjective suavidicus -a -um with the meaning ‘sweetly speaking’. Phonetically, that word is close to the Serbian verbs svideti ‘like’ and svaditi se ‘quarrel’. Russian rendezvous (свидание the place of love meeting) might be of some help here because it shows that the Slavic verb videti (OSl. видѣти, виждѫ; Cz. vidět) plays the ‘main role” in this case. Actually, Serbian svideti ‘like’ means ‘to see someone eye to eye’ – and in addition – ‘to be fond of seeing/meeting someone’. At first glance, it seems impossible to find any connection between Serbian word svideti ‘like’ and slatko ‘sweet’ (Cz. sladký, Russ. сладкий), and I do not know that any scholar ever connected Slavic slatko/sladak ‘sweet’ and English sweet. Vasmer (IV, p. 713; Brückner: Słovnik etymologiczny języka polskiego, p.500, Skok III, 277) connects Russian солодкий/сладкий ‘sweet’ with соленый ‘salted, savory”. It is hard to determine if he was wrong here, but the name for salt (Lat. sal salis ‘salt, brine, sea-water’, Skr. लवण lavaṇá ‘salt, saline, brine’, Gr. ἅλας/ἅλς ‘salt’ – elision of the initial h/s; Gr. ἁλμυρός = Serb. salamura ‘brine’) appeared to be derived from the PIE “root” *səh-(bh)l-, which is in fact a prefixed *belgh- basis (cf. Skr. sa-lavaṇa ‘with salt, tin’; cf. Serb. so-ljenje, do-so-ljavanje ‘salting’); i.e. it might be supposed that salt is a cognate to the IE words for suffusion, flow, sea (Eng. salivate, slobber, OE slyppe ‘slime’,  Skr. salila ‘flowing, flood, waves’, Serb. zaliti, saliti, sliti, izliti suffuse, flood, pour in/out’; sliniti ‘salivate’; Gr. ἅλιος ‘of the see’).

Turkish word for black is siyah, a loanword from Persian, probably related to  Sanskrit śyai ‘dark, gray’, Avestan sуāvа ‘black’ and Slavic siv ‘gray’ (OSl. сивъ). In Uzbek, there are two basic words for ‘love’. One is sev- and the other is so’y-. Uzbek sevin- means ‘glad, delighted, happy’ (sevinch ‘glee, delight’, Tur. sevinçli, sevin-mek ‘rejoice’) and, it seems, it would be hard to connect this word to Arabic sawâd ‘black’ or ‘black bile’ (the second meaning just in a philosophical sense; adj. aswad, saudâ ‘black’); they are semantically conflicting with each other. In most IE languages the word for ‘black’ is connected to the notion of ‘burning’. Namely, after the process of burning the stricken area would be either black or gray colored. Henceforth, there are words as English black (from PIE *bhleg- ‘burn’, Gr. φλέγω ‘take fire, blaze up’; Lat. flagro -are; Skr. plusyati ‘to burn’, pākalá ‘quite black’; Ger. Fleck; and probably Lat. pullus ‘blackish’ from *pulh-nos). Similar is with the Serbian adverb/adj. crn-o ‘black’ (Russ. чёрный, Cz. černě, Pol. czerń; OSl. чрънъ), which is related to the Slavic verb goreti (OSl. горѣти, Russ. гореть, Cz. hořet; Gr. θέρμω, Lat. formus from *ghwormo-; Skr. घर्म gharmá ‘heat, warmth’). This process will be more understandable if the words like Serbian gorenje ‘burning’ (Russ. горение, Cz. hoření), gar ‘soot’ and garav, garan ‘swarthy, sooty’ are taken in consideration. Actually, the Slavic “root” *črъnъ is derived from the PIE *ghwər-(bl)-ghn– basis (cf. Serb. gorivo ‘fuel’, gorljiv ‘ardent, keen, fiery’). The same PIE basis was used for the naming of the red color (Serb. crveno, rumeno, Russ. червлeный, Cz. červeň; OSl. чръвенъ, чръвлѥнъ).

It seems that Semitic languages fallowed the same pattern by connecting words for ‘black’ and ‘burn, heat’. For instance, there is Aramaic swṭ, which means ‘to be burned’ and Akkadian šahānu ‘to heat up’. Maybe this Aramaic word (swṭ) is related to Arabic sawdā ‘black’ (cf. Aram. sawta ‘old man’, probably ‘gray-haired’). Of course, this is a mere guessing from my side and I would live this assumption to those whose knowledge about Semitic is much better than mine. Nevertheless, at the end of this “story” the fallowing conclusions may be briefly stated:

1) Maybe by chance, but the following Serbian words, zavodnik ‘seducer’, svodnik ‘pimp’ and svedok ‘witness’ sound very close to the Turkish word sevda ‘love’. In Serbian, sevdah also means – as we have seen from the above verses – ‘lover’. Serbian zavođenje is the word that describes the process of seducing and therefore it is the word from the same “arsenal” as Latin seducoducere. Zavoditi literally means “to avert/divert (someone) from the road”. Serbian savet ‘advice’ is also a kind of “seducing” or diverting, but this time from the “wrong” road to the “right” one.

2) Perhaps it could be stated that Turkish sevda hardly might be the Arabic loanword. Sevda is semantically mismatching enough as to be considered related to Arabic sawdā. Sometimes it is possible to make “connections” among different words from different language groups according to our “free will”.  Aramaic zrāq (gray, blue) sounds almost the same as Serbian zrak (ray, beam). May these two words be considered as false friends and true cognates? Who knows, both are related to word “dawn”: Aramaic saḥra ‘dawn’, Serbian zora ‘dawn, daybreak’ (also Arab. saḥar ‘dawn, daybreak’, Hebrew שחר šaḥar ‘dawn, morning, early light’). To give just another example: Hebrew word for ‘gray-hair, hoary, old age’ is שיבה seybah and it sounds very similar to Serbian sivo ‘gray’. On the other side is Arabic sabâh ‘morning’ (sabâh al khayr ‘good morning’) and aşbaḥ ‘black, inclining to red’, which has been “adopted” in Serbian via Turkish as sabajle ‘early in the morning’. And that sabajle resembles to Serbian sintagma “zabijeli se zora” (dawn is lighting up the sky). Earlier mentioned Arabic aşbaḥ could be compared to aswad ‘black’ and to the Serbian noun osvit ‘dawn, dayspring, daybreak’ just as “black inclining to red”.

A Blissful Blessing

December 30, 2009

I almost forgot to comment the two footnotes I have marked in my last article (White Wedding). First is the English word bliss (spiritual joy; OE. bletsian, bledsian ; Serb. blaženstvo; from blag ‘placid’, blažen ‘blissful, placid’; Russ. блаженство), which appeared to be related with bless, although I didn’t find any serious etymologist who would be ready to link these two words explicitly. It is interesting to mention that The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology says that bliss may be relate to blood (!). Chambers (Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, p. 42), for instance, related bliss with OE bletsian ‘consecrate’ and Gothic blotan ‘sacrifice, kill’, while Skeat (Etymological Dictionary, p. 52) was more specific, saying that the “original sense (of bless) may have been ‘to consecrate by blood’ (also Kluge, “sprinkle with blood” – English Etymology, p. 20-21).

In his book, with an indicative title: A Dictionary of True Etymologies (p. 22), Adrian Room is resolute: “”The derivation of the word is not from ‘blessed’ but from an Old English word related to ‘blithe’. (‘Bless,’ unexpectedly, is related to ‘blood’)”. The authors of The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European (p. 194), Mallory and Admas, introduced the PIE root *wolno/eha– (Lat. volnus, Gr. οὐλή, Skr. व्रण vraṇa. Of course, a small umlaut “correction” and it is possible to relate bledsian to sprinkle with blood’ to blood and bleed (ses Lyle Campbell, Historical Liguistics, p. 252), but the problem is that the same thing can be done with the word bliss. Namely, bliss appeared to be unrelated to to bless, although it is related to blithe (from OE bliþe, OHG blidi ‘gay, friendly’; ON bliðr ‘mild, gentle’).

Now, let us compare English bless and bliss with Serbian blag ‘mild’, blagosloven ‘blessed’ and blažen ‘blissful’ (Vasmer, I, p. 171; Russ. блажен ‘blissful, placid’, благословение ‘blessing, benediction’). It seems obvious that Slavic languages have the similar words for both bless and bliss. In Czech and Serbian, the word blaženost could be translated as bless as well as bliss; and that word is a derivative of blag (Cz. blaho ‘bless, bliss’). Here we could compare Slavic and Latin words for blessing. On the other side are the Latin words, beatus ‘blessed happy’, bonus ‘good’ and benignus ‘kind, favorable, obliging’ and all three of them may be translated as blessed. Is it possible that these words, together with those mentioned above (Slavic and Germanic), originated from the common basis? If so, what that basis would be? Isidore de Seville explains: “Beatus, blessed or happy, is as if bene ductus, well enriched, namely from having what he wishes and enduring nothing he does not want” (Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies: translated by Priscilla Throop; p. x.16). Does it not mean the same as English bliss? Isidore also depicted a vague difference among those words and, in addition, mentioned Latin blandus ‘flatering, charming person’. In Greek, the relation between bless and bliss is very close to that in Slavic and Latin: ὄλβιος, ὄλβος ‘blest, happy’, ὀλβία ‘bliss’. Hence, it seems, the question imposes itself: how it happened that only Germanic languages connected ‘blood’ and ‘happiness’/bliss’. Does it make sense at all?

From his own side, Fransis Volpey suggested three possible sources of the Latin word beo ‘make happy, bless’. First was the Greek word βίος ‘life’, and alternative was βύω ‘to stuff, to fool’ and βέο ‘to go’ βέομαι ‘Ishel live’ (probably related to βαίνω ‘step, walk, βαίνειν , make to go’). To add a little more confusion, let us mention Czech blázen ’fool’ vs. blaženýblissful, beatific’ (Serb. bulazniti ‘talk nonsense’, blesa ‘fool’). What about English fool and full; are these two words related or not? Fool comes from Latin follis ‘a leather bag, bellows, purse, puffed-out cheek’, which is from its side related to flatus –us ‘blow, inflate’ (cf. Serb. nabudžiti, budžiti ,bulge’, buđelar ‘purse’, bešika ‘bellows, bladder’). Now, although it might look as some sort of confabulation, it seems, wherever we look we can see the same “progenitor” word, which sounded close to that “imaginary” basis — named earlier *belgh-ghno- (White Wedding).

Greek βαίνω appeared to be akin to Latin venio –ire ‘come, arrive’, and its pro- prefixed form πρρβαίνειν ‘come forward’ seems to be the same kind word as Serbian probijanje ‘pushing forward’ (cf. Skr. प्रबाध् prabādh, ‘drive, urge’, Serb. probadati ‘to pierce, puncture’. In reality, it may be that all the above mention words originated from the one unique word-well-generator. Like in the Bible: in the beginning was the word. Actually, beginning may be of a key importance for the understanding of the process of the branching of words. How can we suppose that, for instance, Serbian početak ‘beginning’ may be related to English beginning, if we do not start to analyze all possible semantic links between these two words. The true is that phonetic laws could be of great help in certain cases, but, on the other hand, they might be a big obstacle in the process of understanding of the evolution of human speech. There are many irregular changes to take the sound laws as an undeniable “measure of the truth”.

One more example: what to say about possible kinship of the Serbian word polazak, polaženje ‘to start/to go off’, moving forward’ and Latin pulsus ‘impulse, beating, blow’. Just when I thought that Serbian polaz ‘setting off, departure’ and the verb puknuti ‘blow up’ were derived from the same “proto-word” as it happened to Latin pullsus (Serb. *bəl-gh-ghən => puknuti ‘explode, blow up’; English blow probably used the same *bəl-gh “basis”, doesn’t matter in what sense, strike or inflate), the “other” word, similar to pulsus, with the meaning of pulse ‘porridge’ came to “blow up” the “prearranged celebration”. Logically, when the thing bulged/inflated to an extreme it had to explode/blow up (the simple law of physics; Latin ex-plodo = Serb. ispaliti ‘to fire off’). Latin puls might be related to Serbian pasulj ‘bean’ (Gr. φάσηλος), and Latin phaselus ‘boat, kanu’ (in accordance to the bean-pod shape of the vessel). Now, visiting Lithuanian dictionary we can find the word pasaulis, which means ‘world’ (similar in Serbian, vaseljena/vasiona ‘universe’). What is happening here? We started with φάσηλος ‘bean,’ phaselus ‘boat, vessel’ (as we can see, vessel came from Lat. phaselus; Gr. φάσηλος), and ended with pasaulis ‘world’ and vaseljena ‘universe’. Close to vaseljena is the Byzantine emperor, Βασίλειος (Basileios; Serb. p.n. Vasilije). At this moment we are coming to the point where all the above thinking proves or disproves itself. Is it not truth that vessel (boat) belongs to the kind of transportation device?

Then, if vessel (form phaselus, which sounds very similar to Serb. vozilo ‘vehicle’, Skr. vāhika) is transportation device, could that word not be of the same origin as Latin vehiculum –i? In this case things appeared to be self-evident: Latin vehiculum is a compound word consisting of the words veho ‘convey’, drive’ and col- ‘something round, round-shaped’ (like oculus ‘eye’; in Serbian too: vozi ‘drive’ + kolo ‘wheel’ (*vohi-həlo => vozi’lo, contraction; cf. Cz. vozidlo ‘vehicle’). Nevertheless, although the above “explanation” of the origin of vehicle sounds pretty plausible, it is hard to say what pasulj ‘bean’, vaseljena/vasiona ‘cosmos’ and Βασίλειος ‘the Byzantine emperor’ have in common with the notion of driving. Maybe, it is just a coincidence, a chance resemblance, vessel, vozilo, vehicle? Of coarse, it becomes clear that pasulj (Gr. φάσηλος) has been named like that in accordance with its round or kidney-like form. Latin vesica ‘bladder’ is obviously the same word as Serbian bešika ‘bladder’, and this Serbian word may be a Romanian loanword (băşică; Petar Skok, Etimologijski rječnik Hrvatskoga ili Srpskoga jezika, I, p. 141), but it doesn’t change the fact that bešika and vesica (vesiculum; băşică) acquired their names thanks to their round form. Actually, bešika (vesica) is derived from the basic IE proto-form, which sounded closely to the “root” *bəl-gh (many times mentioned here). The basic meaning of such a proto-form is lump or round formation (Serb. oblo ‘round’ OSl. обьлъ, Lat. bulla ‘swelling’, oval ‘egg-like’, OE belgan ‘to swell – with anger’, bylg ‘bulge, bag’, Eng. bulge; Gr. βῶλος ‘lump, clod of earth’, Skr. bhūgola ‘earth, globe’ – probably a metathesis of *bulg-).

The other meanings of the above-mentioned “root” are derived differently in different IE languages. In Serbian, for instance, oblo ‘round’ branched later into words like obliti ‘pour over, suffuse’, obilaziti ‘go arround, to visit’, oblaziti ‘go around’, obilaznica ‘detour’, obilaženje ‘detouring’, polaziti ‘start, to go off, depart’. Similar process can be followed in English too: from ball, visit to begin. Now, I hope, we can see the multitude of sound changes that hardly may be traced down in a satisfactory manner (assimilation, dissimilation, metathesis, aphaeresis, haplology, epenthesis, elision, umlaut, ablaut etc.), and, what seems to be the biggest problem, there are a lot of unpredictable changes that can not be subjected to any regular rule. For instance, we can only “understand” the process of phonetic mutation, which split up the *bəl-gh basis to three different words with different but close meanings: one is the above-mentioned palaz-ak ‘setting off’, then it comes pogon ‘driving force’, and finally – početak, počinjanje ‘beginning’. The both words, English beginning and Serbian počinjanje ‘beginning’ appeared to have the same morphology, both have bə- prefixed form of the common ‘”stem” *ghon-. This *ghon-, as a bound morpheme (almost always) indicates a certain kind of movement/motion (cf. Ger. beginnen ‘begin, start, commence’, begegnen ‘meet, encounter’, begehen ‘do, execute, perform, do, commit’, gehen ‘go, move, proceed’, gegen ‘opposite, contra, against’; gucken ‘see, gaze, watch’). In Serbian language, the same morpheme is turned to *čin- (počinjati ‘begin’ (Russ. начинать, Cz. zahájit, začátek, začínat, Pol. zaczynać), počiniti ‘execute, do, commit’ (Russ. учинить, Ita. iniziato ‘initiate’; from Lat. initio ‘initiate’ ab initio ‘from the beginning’, Russ. от начала), a clear-cut counterpart to German begehen (Serb. počiniti nedelo ‘to commit the crime’). All the above-mentioned words might be considered as cognates.

Latin pello pellere ‘beat, drive out, push, strike, drive away’ and bello bellare bellavi, bellatus ‘fight, struggle’ may be of great/crucial importance for the understanding how the IE vocabulary was evolving. Pulsus ‘stroke, beat, pulse, impulse’ seems to be close to Serbian bilo, bijenje ‘throbbing, pulse’ (Russ. биение), as well as to Greek βάλλω/βαλέω ‘throw’ (Russ. валить ‘hurl, throw’; Serb. dial. obaliti ‘fall down, throw’). There is almost no doubt that these words (all seemingly derived form *bəl-gh-ghən- basis) are “cousins” to other “younger” words as Serbian ubijanje ‘killing’, boj, bitka ‘battle’, bolan ‘ill, sick’ (Russ. больной), bol ‘pain’ (Russ.боль), ubadanje/bodenje ‘stabbing, piercing’ (Russ. пробивать, пробить ‘gore, to hole’), paliti ‘burn, spark , burn, stoke a fire, ignite’ (Cz. vypalovat; Russ. воспламенять), opaliti ‘fire off’ (Russ. выпалить). It can hardly be a coincidence that, in this case, Latin and Serbian have the words with a similar phonetics: vulnus ‘wound, mental/emotional hurt’ and bolan ‘painful’, flamma ‘blaze, flame’ and plamen ‘flame, blaze’, even bello bellare seems to be a cognate to Serbian borenje ‘fighting, batlle’ (obviousli from “bol-hre-ghne with the loss of the sound [l]).


Maybe I am not able to explain precisely (especially not in English) what I have in mind, but the main point of my above meditation is my attempt to “instigate” an unconventional approach to the field of comparative linguistics. Namely, how it would be if we did take all the three (above-mentioned) Valpy’s “alternatives” (life, to go, to fill full) as correct? Does it not make sense? The Slavic word bogat ‘wealthy’ (Cz. bohatý, Russ. богатый, OSl. богатъ) may be derived from *bolgat”-; again, the “solution” of this enigma may lie in the Latin words — opulentus opulenta ‘wealthy’ and abundus ‘copious’ or in Greek πλούσιος ‘wealthy’ (Lacon. πλούσιος); all word related to English plenty (Latin plēnus ‘full’, Slavic polno). In Serbian, blago has meanings ‘be well’, ‘treasure’, ‘livestock’ (Russ. для блага народа for the wellfare of the people) and it indicates that the above assumption, that bogat came from *bolgat (one who possess blago, treasure or livestock, all the same) is probably true. Vasmer (I, p. 182) connects bogat to the Slavic noun bog ‘god’ (OSl. богъ, Cz. bůh, Russ. бог, божество), but, according the above analysis, these two words cannot be linked directly. Bog ‘god’ probably acquired that name thanks to his greatness, big (Serb, velik ‘big, bulk’; Serb. veliki bog ‘god is great’, ‘almighty god’; Russ. Великий Бог; Cz. veliký). A special curiosity here: the English word big is phonetically closer to the Slavic word bog, than Slavic velik ‘big’. However, there is the Russian word большой (bol”shoj) ‘big’, which may possibly explain a lot of things about the name of the Slavic god (bog).

Slavic blagosloven ‘blessed’ could be the same word as Latin benedictus (from *belgne-dict-) and both words have the same meaning. It also can hardly be considered as a coincidence. Now we can go back to Saint Isidore’s words mentioned above: beatus –a -um ‘blessed, blissful’, bonus -um, ‘good’, benignus –a –um ‘kindly, mild, affable’ and try to figure out that all they might be derived from the same and unique agglutinated proto-word. The same proto-word was probably used by all IE languages. I would say that the relation between bless and bliss was better understood in earlier times (see on the left what Wedgwood rote in his etymological dictionary).

White Wedding

December 27, 2009

by Dušan Vukotić / December 25th, 2009

White Wedding PDF 220 kb

There is/was a saying in Serbia, odveli/oteli su nam devojku (they took our girl away) usually spoken by parents and girl’s relatives after the wedding. It was like that for centuries: groom was considered as a sort of “pirate” and those who dared to “steal” the girl were never seriously condemned by society. On the contrary, those who committed such “crime” were secretly praised among their friends and neighbors. In the above case (p.p. odveli ‘taken away’) we have to deal with the Serbian verb voditi ‘lead’ (Cz. vést, vodit, Russ. вести, при-водить, OSl. водити).

Now, if someone suggested that English wed is related to the Serbian/Slavic word voditi ‘lead’, I suppose, everyone would be laughing. Nevertheless, let us be more patient and try to reconsider this (mine) suggestion. The same pattern seems to have been used  on the soil of whole Europe and people in the West as well as those in the East used to grab (i.e. to take by force; Serb, grabiti ‘grab’)  their future wedded wife/bliss1. If we thumb more carefully through the Slavic dictionary we are going to find some words that may be cognates to English wed. For instance, there are the Serbian word svatovi, svadbeni ‘nuptial’, svadba ‘wedding ceremony’, svatovska povorka ‘wedding procession’, where, as we can see, the above-mentioned Slavic verb voditi, od-voditi (lead, to take away) is omnipresent. In addition, there is the Serbian word svodnik, that, according to the above words and their original logic, has an unexpected meaning – pimp!

Farther, there are words zavoditi ‘seduce’ and zavodnik ‘seducer’ (Russ. соблазнять ‘seduce’; Cz. svůdník ‘seducer’, svádět ‘seduce’ that, not by chance,  reminds us of  Serbian svaditi, svađa ‘dispute, argument, broil’; Lat. suadeo -ere; -persuadeo, -suadere), who is the same sort of villain/rogue as bludnik ‘rake, wanton’, and this word indicates that the proto-form of IE *wod-, *wed- was *belgh,  an initial, maybe, more agglutinated/extended proto-word, which sounded (roughly taken) like *belgh-ghno- (close to Engliish belggining => beginning). The Latin verb seduco2, seducere has almost the same meaning as Serbian zavoditi ‘seduce, lead astray, lead away’.

An enormously interesting word is the Serbian noun nevesta ‘bride’ (Russ. невеста, Cz. nevesta; Osl. невѣста), because nevesta is ne-uzeta (Russ. взять ‘take’); i.e. it is a girl, which is “not yet taken” (Vasmer, не и ведать; III, p. 54). In fact, Slavic ne-vesta is the word with the same meaning as Serbian ne-udata ‘not married, unmarried’. The meaning of the Serbian word udova/udovica ‘widow’ shows that udova (Russ. вдова, Cz. vdova,  OSl. въдова) is a woman who is “vodiva” (ready to be taken (away) again, free; od-vodiva). Following these etymologies many researchers were confused with a great number of words, which are phonetically close and whose semantics seem to be “intertwined”. Old Slavic возити (Serb. voziti; Russian возить , Cz. vozit, vézt) is clearly related to English way (German Weg, Goth. vagjan, OHG weggen, ONor. bæsa ‘drive’), Greek ὀχέων, ἔχειν, ἄγειν “keep doing, keep going’, and Latin veho ere. In Sanskrit there are almost all the forms of the verb ‘drive’ as in Slavic (váhati, vákṣi , voḍham, voḍhvam , ūḍhvam , úhāna, uvāha , ūhúḥ , ūhé, vakṣyáti; Monier Williams, p. 933) and among such words very indicative are two forms of that word: one is voḷham, which reminds us to the Slavic word vlak ‘train’, and the other is voḍhā ‘led home married’, which asserts the above-mentioned suggestion that *wed- originally meant ‘to lead away’ (Slav. voditi).

In Old Icelandic there is a word bæsa -ta, -tra, which means ‘to drive cattle into the stall’ and it could be taken as a counterpart word to the Serbian verb uvesti ‘to bring into’. Here we can understand the origin of the word vezati ‘bind’ (Russ. вязать, связывать, Cz. svázat, OSl. вѩзати) – it comes from the same proto-word as Serbian vijanje ‘driving, chasing’, vijugav ‘winding’, and uvijanje ‘winding, binding’ (Russ. вить; hence Serb. vez ’embroidery’). Sometimes  certain words may be absolutely different in phonetic sense, although they have appeared from the same “womb”,  like Russian вышивание ‘ebroidery’, which is related to вязание ‘binding’ (Serb. vezivanje ‘binding’) and Serb. ušivanje, šivenje, šiti, šav ‘needle, sew, stitch’, which lost its initial syllable vi- or replaced it with u-.  Surprisingly or not, we can see that Serbian vijuga ‘convolution, wind, row, girus’ (cf. Skr. vīthī ‘line, row’) is the word from the same “depot’ as English way or German Weg, and Latin via, viae ‘road’. Actually, Serbian vezanje ‘binding’ is nothing alse but vijuganje ‘wriggling’ (so, in that sense, Greek ὄφις ‘snake’ is the “winding” animal; cf. ὀφεώδης ‘snake-like’, equal to Serbian uvojit ‘curled, coiled’).

The Serbian words for water, wind and fire (voda, vetar, vatra) are closely related to the winding movement, similar as in English (wind, winding, weather, winter; OE. windan, Serb, uvunuti ‘twist’, vintanje ‘circumvolution’ ). Here we must follow the Latin words like vulgus, volate, vello in order to grasp what the “original output” of similar IE words was the above-mentioned  basis *belgh-ghno-, like in Serbian words put ‘road, path’, pod ‘floor, bottom’, putovanje ‘traveling’. namely, Serbian putovati ‘to travel’ comes from a previous form *bludovati, the same proto-form from which the other Serbian words were born, like blud ‘wanton, lust, whoredom’, lud ‘crazy’ and latalica ‘a tramp’ (cf. Latin vulgo originally ‘divulge, circulate, prostitute’). In this context, it would be interesting to see if the word lunatic is linked to  Slavic lud, ludak ‘fool’ (OSl. лудъ), in some Serbian dialect luntor (crazy man, wanderer, tramp), also landarati ‘to move freely in an uncontrolled manner’.

It seems that we have gone to far away from our “wedding” and therefore let us return to the subject by saying that the Serbian word udata has the same “value” as English wedded (Eng. wedded wife = Serb. udata žena; and Eng. widow = Serb. udova). Old Slavic дѣва ‘virgin, unmarried girl, adolescent’ (Serb. devojka, devica, Cz. děvice) is the grown up, mature girl, which is ready for “abduction” (Serb. odvoditi), and in Czech language, there is a word děvka (whore), now related to  Slavic davati (Serb. podavati se ‘to indulge in sex easily’; OSl. -давати ‘give away’). Also, the Czech word vydávat ‘give’ supports the supposition that wedding is a process of “giving away” (Serb. odvoditi); i.e. it is a process of the implementation or bringing (of a woman) into the house (Serb. uvod ‘prelude’, uvoditi ‘introduce’.  Additionally, the Slavic verb davati/dati ‘give’ is also related ti the verb voditi ‘lead’ (dovoditi, dovesti ‘bring’, odvoditi, odvesti ‘taking away’. Slavic davati is derived from the ancient form *gebh– (cf. Ger. geben ‘give’), and it means that some sort of a “sound hierarchy” must be introduced in a serious investigation, because we can suppose that velars are the “first”, “primal layer” of the speech sounds,  while dentals belong to the much younger layers of sounds. For instance, we must precisely examine how it happened that  the primal form *gebh– was turned to *dav- in Slavic. Nevertheless, that initial form was kept in word gubiti ‘lose’ (OSl. гоубити).

We can also remark that the above-mentioned word svat ‘a member of the wedding procession’ sound very similar to the word svet ‘world’, svetina ‘a multitude of people’ and svetkovanje ‘celebration’. Is there anything more or is it  just a chance resemblance? There are some possible explanation for these enigmas:

1) We have already seen that verbs zavoditi ‘seduce’, svađati ‘quarell’, zavideti ‘be envy’ may be “constructed” on the basis of voditi ‘lead’, but we may suppose that the verb videti ‘see’ is also involved here as a principal ingredient of those words. What is then a possible relation between voditi and videti (OSl. видѣти)? Is there any other Slavic word that may be common for both of these words? What about buditi ‘wake up’ (OSl. боудити)? It seems that the voiced bilabial /b/ is on the first level of the above-proposed “sound hierarchy” (as a “parent”), while voiced /v/, voiceless /p/ and fricative /f/ are certain sort of “children”. If it had been true, then we could have said that the verb buditi was a progenitor of voditi and videti. Philosophically, such a premise could have been taken as really possible, because the process of waking up comprises in itself the both notions: seeing and motion (running, circulation).

2) Slavic svet (OSl. свѣтъ) appeared to be logically related to svitanje ‘day-break, dawning’, svitati (OSl. *свьтѣти; see Vasmer, III, p. 575). The Old English word woruld, worold might be interpreted differently than wer- + old (Kluge-Seebold, p. 885, Torp-Falk, p.21), because the present explanation sounds rather unconvincing and strained. Would it not be more conceivable if we presume that English world is related to German Urvelt  ‘primeval world’? Bosworth’s Anglo-Saxon or-eald (see p. 270; “very old”) suggest a connection to German Ur-Welt (“old world”; see William Bell, Shakespeare’s Puck, p. 94-95). It means that Ur-Welt could, through the metathesis, become world (*urwold => wurold => world). And  German Ur-Welt might be one of few Ur-bases (*xur-bhel-ghn-), that generated thousands and thousands of IE words. Among them is Slavic “world” too – svet (from *survelt => *svelt => svet). Of course, this kind of deliberation deserves a much deeper analysis in the future.

3) English white is probably related to both Slavic words,  svet and cvet/kvet (Cz. květ, OSl. цвѣть; Vasmer, IV, p. 292-293), but it could indirectly be related to wed.  Although it might look strange the genuine “root” of white and svet is *bhelghno-, and those words, Slavic and Germanic are compound words; i.e. prefixed as in Serbian za-beleti, iz-beliti. Hence we’ve got Slavic svitanje ‘dawning’ and svetlo ‘light, bright’ (a metathesis from *s-belt-, s-velt-; cf. Ger. Welt ‘world’). The Serbian words like beljenje ‘bleaching’, paljenje ‘blaze, light up, ignition’, planuti ‘flare up’ are obvious derivatives from the above mentioned Ur-basis. Even English fire came from that same “root” (related to Gr. πυρά ‘to kindle fire’, Serb. purenje, puriti ‘burn’, Lat. flagro -are), i.e. fire is coming from Latin flagro (cf. flare) in the same way as Serbian puriti has lost the sound [l] (*pulrenje, like in Lat. flagro; from *bhel-her).


December 19, 2009

My congratulation Mr. Liberman!

I haven’t read anything more inspiring for a long time (at least as far as etymology is in question) and I am really sorry I haven’t seen your articles earlier.

First, let me make a small digression and compare tram to drum (Ger. Trommel) and to Greek δρόμος (course, race-course, lap, public walk, road, track, way)… and to Serbian drum (road) in addition. Vasmer mentions the Russian words ударить, деру́, драть, раздор (from O.Slav. оударити ’slam, strike, hit, ram’; Serb. udariti, udar, udaram ‘blow, stroke, strike, beat, kick, knock, push’; s-udar-anje ‘clash, shock, collision, crash, impact, smash’) and compares it to Greek δρις, -ἡ ‘battle, contest’. Here it seems also to be interesting to mention that Old Slavic дерѫ, дьрати (d’rati ‘tear, flay’) is a cognate to Sanskrit dr̥ṇā́ti (tear, split) and Greek δέρω (separate by avulsion, skin, flay; hence the Greek noun δέρμα ’skin, hide’). All these words are derived from the same proto-form similar to *xər-bhl-gən.; i.e. from its contracted basis – *xər-gon.

English track is probably the source of Serbian traka (band, ribbon) and it is farther (reversibly) related to Serbian trag (trace, footprint, mark, track) as well as to the Russian word дорога (road, path). One of the first thing we must have in mind here is that the most of those *thər- words are derived from an earlier agglutinated form, which sounded similar to *thuer-bəlgon (Eng. turbid, turbulence, turbine, curving, trouble, Gr. τύρβη ‘tumult, disorder’, Lat. turbidus; cf. Serb. turoban ‘mirky, gloomy’). In this case, the semantic shifts are remarkable: for instance, German trommeln (drum, beat out, pound, batter) is the word from the same “arsenal” as Serbian grmljavina (thunder, thundering; hence Serb. grom ‘thunder’; OSlav. громъ; Gr. χρόμᾰδος ‘crashing sound’, τρίβω ‘to rub, thresh’; τριβόμενος ‘frictional’; Serb. trljanje, trenje ‘friction’, Russ. трение ‘friction’; Cz. tření).

Another word, that should be thoroughly examened, is English group (Ita. gruppo). This word has been developed following the same logic as the above-mentioned “turbulence”. As a matter of fact, turbulence must be a “descendent” word in comparison to group, because the grouping is a precondition for a certain kind of “turbulant activities” in the future. Group is closely related to grab (Ger. graben ‘dig, grub, burrow’, Serb. grabiti ‘catch, grab’, OSlav. грабити, Serb. grablje ‘rake’) and grave (Ger. Grab, Serb. grob; OSlav. гробъ). Serbian krupno (big) and ukrupnjenje (making bigger) are the close relatives to Serbian ogroman (large, big, enormous, giant, huge), and all of these words are derived from the above-mentioned ur-basis – *xər-bhl-gən.

The protoform *xər-bhl-gən is in fact a “twofold or doubled roundness”. It entails  that the primary meaning of such agglutinated word was ring + ball : Gr. κρίκος ‘ring’ + ἀμφέλκω ‘be surrounded by’; Serb. krug ‘circle’ + oblo ’round’; Ger. Ring + Ball, like in kurbeln ‘wind’, Kurbel ‘winder’; Lat. circus + oval or bulla ’round swelling’, OE hring ‘circle’ + bolla ’round object, cup, bowl’; cf. OE hring-boga ’snake’ and Icel. hring-laginn ‘coiled up’, both from hypothetical *hring-bləg(n), i.e. in sense ‘bent in circle’ or ‘coiled being’ (hence probably the Serbian n. rugoba ‘a monstrous creature’ and adj. rugoban ‘monstrous, ugly’). Greek Charybdis (Χάρυβδις) is a word equal to Serbian grdoba ‘monstrous creature’, while Serbian grdoba is just a variant of the above-mentioned rugoba (from *h/rugoba => *gruhoba => grdoba). The name crocodile appears to be obtained in a similar way –*hro(ho)b(d)ile; (cf. Ir. crogall, Sc. eireallach ‘a monster’, eirbleach ’slack-jointed or crippled person, Sc. hirplock ‘lame creature, cripple‘, OSl. хромъ, Serb. hrom, hramati ‘lame, to limp’, Skt. स्राम srāmá ‘lame’, Eng. horrible ‘horrifying, ugly’). Alslo there is Gaelic rìbhinn ‘maid, nymph, serpent, beautifull female’, which might be related to Old Slavic рыба ‘fish’ (Serb. riba; cf. Lat. rubeta ‘toad’) and German Raupe ‘caterpillar’.

We can see that Gaelic cruimhean ‘worms’ sounds close to rìbhinn and cruimh ‘worm’, and Latin vermis (worm) must be obtained from the same language “depot” of “curved creatures” (Ger. gekrümmt, krumm ‘bent, curved, curled’; Lith. kirminas, kirmėlė ‘worm’; Skt. कृमिन् kṛmin ‘worm’) as it happened to PSl. *čьrvь (OSl. чрьвь ‘worm’, Russ. червь, Serb. crv). In fact, in this case, the “curved line” is a basic “motto” in depicting some unusual or even unnatural characteristic (Serb. kriv-ljenje ‘bending, distortion’, Russ. кривой ‘distorted’, искривление ‘distortion, deformation, curvature’).

In order to understand how the initial *kərb- “root” (from proto-form *xər-bhl-gən) changed its appearance and became *kərp-, *kərv-, *kərm- or *kərf let us compare Latin crimen ‘a judgment, charge, accusation, reproach’ (Gr. κρι̂μα ‘a decision, judgment’) with the South-Slavic krivica (guilt, culpability; krivina ‘curve’; OSl. кривъ ‘crooked’, Serb. kriv ‘crooked, incorrect, guilty’; Cz. křivý ‘crooked, awry, incorrect, improper, deceitful’; Gr. κροιός ‘having deformity’; Lith. kreivas ‘crooked, curved, wry, wrong, false, unfair’). The crucial question here is whether the Latin word crimen is or not related to Serbian krivnja ‘culpability’.

Of course, worm (Serb. crv ‘worm’) is not guilty (Serb. kriv ‘guilty’) for his curly or curved (Serb. kriv ‘curved, crooked, bent’) appearance. Similar can be spoken about the relation among Slavic crevo (OSl. чрѣво, Serbian crevo; Cz. střevo), which has two meanings: intestine and hosepipe. In both cases, we have to deal with the curved/hollowed – cablelike objects. The same ‘curved’ logic is well visible among the Greek words κοιλία ‘cavity of the body, belly, abdomen, intestines’, κοῖλος ‘hollow, concave, cavernous’ and σκολιός ‘curved, winding, twisted, tangled’ (cf. Slav. kolo ‘wheel, circle’; OSl. коло). Even the word for worm followed the same pattern as it was seen above (Gr. σκώληξ ‘worm’; literary, a twisted, curved creature) in Slavic and Germanic languages.

In Old Prussian, intestine was named grābs, phonetically very close to German Grab ‘grave’ and Slavic grab (hornbeam; genus Carpinus). Is there anything at all that would be able to connect those three words? On the other hand, OPr. kērmens ‘body’ (Latv. ķermenis ‘body’) appears to be related to Ger. Körper and Lat. corpus, while OPr. kīrms ‘worm’ (Latv. cērme ‘worm’) seems to be related to ‘body’ (corpus) in a certain, maybe unusual way? Latin trabs ‘a beam of wood, tree-trunk’ is a possible cognate to the Serbian word trup ‘body, trunk, torso, corpus’ (OSl. троупъ, Cz. trup; Russ. труп) and there is another Serbian word (trupac ‘beam of wood, tree-trunk’) – whose meaning is exactly the same as the meaning of Latin trabs.

One thing is very interesting here. Namely, the English words tramp, trample (MLG trampen ‘walk heavily, stamp’) and stamp (OE stempan ’stamp’) are the cognates of the Serbian verbs trapati ‘walk heavily’ (n. trapanje; adj. trapav ‘awkward, clumsy’) and stupati ‘march’ (n. stupanje ‘marching’). Both of these Serbian words are related to the tree stem (Serb. stablo ’stem, bole, trunk’; Russ. стебель, ствол; Cz. stéblо) or tree-trunk (Serb. trupac, truplo ‘tree-trunk’). Not casually, Serbian stablo ’stem, stalk’ is used in naming of the most distal part of human leg – stopalo ‘foot’ (OSl. стопа; Russ. ступня, стопа; Cz. stopa), because of the similarity between tree stem and human leg. The almost same relation could be seen in Germanic: Eng. stem (from *stebh-l-; Ger. Stiel, Stamm, Stengel ), step, Ger. Stufe ’step, stair, grade, degree; cf. Serb. stepen, stupanj ‘grade, degree’, stepenice ’steps, stairs’.

Latin ramus ‘bough, branch, twig’ looks as if it has nothing to do with Serbian grana ‘branch’. Nevertheless, both words are probably derived from the same “root” (*grəbh-gn-), which is, in fact, one of the variations of the primeval form *xər-bhl-gən (”a curved line”). Perhaps this would be clearer if we compared Latin ramale -is ‘brushwood’ with the Serbian grmlje ‘brushwood’. The Greek word for thicket is δρυμός; as we can see, phonetically very close to δρόμος (a public walk, colonnade, from δραμει̂ν , aor. inf. of τρέχω ‘to run’). Now it becomes possible that Lat. ramus is a cognate to above-mentioned trabs ‘beam of wood’. In Russian, the noun хребет ‘ridge, edge, spine’ (Serb. hrbat ‘back’, greben ‘ridge’) is the antecedent of грань ‘verge, edge, margin, boundary’ (Serb. granica ‘boundary, border’, grana ‘twig, branch, limb’).

Semantic shifts in these cases seem to be unexpected, but if we supposed that thousands and thousands of words were sprang from the same source, then such shifts should not be seen as startling. For instance, Serbian grumen ‘lump of soil, clod, clump, turf’ (Russ. грум) is probably the same word as Latin gramen ‘grass, turf, herb’ and these two words may be distantly related to Serbian trava ‘grass’ (OSl. трава, Pol. trawa) and Latin herba ‘herb, grass’. In this context, the Slavic appelative d(e)revo (OSl. дрѣво; Russ. дерево; Pol. drzewo) might be from the same origin as trava ‘grass’. As it is quite obvious, now we are entering the field of pure guessing.

Maybe it would be interesting to mention the Czech words křoví, křoviny ‘bush, shrub, scrub’, travina ‘grass’ and dřevo ‘wood, timber’, i.e. dřevina ‘woody species’. Czech křoví ‘bush’ is probably a false friend to Serbian korov ‘weed’ (cf. Serb. adj. za-korovljeno = za-travljeno ‘weedy’; Russian сорная трава ‘drossy grass, weed’). The OE syntagm grēne græs might be an indication that green is related to grass. Swedish gren has the same mening as Serbian grana (branch; Dan. grene sig ‘branch out’), and both of these words must be derived from the same proto-word (*grebhn-; Serb. greben, hrbat, hrid ‘ridge, cliff’). The OE compound word hrycg-weg an elevated piece of ground, ridge-way’ (Serb. greben ‘ridge’, hrid-ina ‘cliff’) is composed of two words: hrycg ( from hring ‘ring’) and weg ‘road, way’(from IE *bhelg-; Russ. бежать, убегать ‘run’, Cz. běh, běžet ‘run’; Latin pello, pellere, pepuli, pulsus ‘drive out’, veho, vehere ‘carry, ride, sail’; also Serb. beg, bežati ‘running away’, voziti ‘drive’; cf. Serb. vozilo – from *vogi-kolo ‘drive the wheel’ or *begi-kolo ‘the running wheel, cart, wagon’ – and Lat. vehiculum, vehi-culi).

Let us now try to resume what we have been talking about until now:

1) German trommeln is equal to Serbian grmljenje (grmeti ‘to thunder, grom ‘thunder’); while Eng. thunder appears to be related to Serb. tandaranje ‘rattle’ (Serb. tandarati from *hun-dar => udar ‘blow, bump, kick, knock, strike, hit’, udaranje (cf. OE þunrian ’striking, beating, kicking’; probably a metathesis from *hundrian). These sound transpositions are the reason that there are different Germanic words for thunder: Ger. Donner, Dan. torden ‘thunder’ (cf. an ancient Germanic thunder deity – Donar, Thor; OE Þunor, Þūr; Celtic Taranis). Latin tono -are ‘to thunder’ also came from the protoform similar to *hundrian. In reality tono -are is a distant cousin to Latin torno -are ‘turn’ and these two words may be compared to Germ. Donar and Thor. Hence Spanish tronada ‘thunderstorm, tornado’; i.e.  from Latin turbedo, turbedinis ’storm’.

2) On the other hand, Serbian drmnuti, drmati ’shake, quake, strike’ is clearly related to grom ‘thunder’ (OSlav.  громъ; Serb. grom je drmnuo ‘the thunder struck’) and trema ’stage fright, shaking, shudder’ (Lat. tremo -are ‘tremble, shake, shudder’). There is another Serbian word – trepet ‘tremble’ (OSlav. трепетъ; Russ. трепетать Gr. τρόμος ‘trembling’, τρέμω ‘tremble, trepidation’), a cognate to Latin trepido -are ‘tremble, be afraid, waver’ – which shows that the above mentioned trema and drmati are derived from the “root” *trebh-; i.e. from a certain ur-word similar to the Latin adj. turbatus -a -um ‘disturbed, disordered, restless, troubled’.

3) Serbian trpljenje ’suffering, troubled by pain or loss’ appears to be logically related to trljanje ‘rubbing’ and trenje ‘rubbing, friction’ (Lat. tero, terere, trivi, tritus ‘rub’; Gr. τρίβος ‘rubbing, attrition, worn truck’; τριμμός ‘beaten truck/path’; Serb. trošan put ‘a worn path’); all probably related to Latin turbulentus -a -um ‘turbulent, stormy, tumultuous, be agitated’. In fact, the English noun storm (Ger. Sturm ’storm’, Strom ‘currennt, stream’; OE styrian ‘disturb’) should be in a close relation to Latin turbulentus as well as to Serbian strujanje ‘current, flux, stream, circulation’ (being stormed = being in trouble).

– Of course, there are a lot of different IE words, which are derived from the same *xər-bhl-gən protoform. One of the interesting words is German treiben (OHG trīban: Goth. dreiban; OE drīfan)’propel, drive, push out, force, pursue’; it seems to be an undisputable cognate of Serbian teranje ‘driving’. On the other hand, Serbian isterati ‘oust, expel, drive out’ looks as if it is a cognate of Serbian istrebiti (Russ. истребить, истреблять)  ‘exterminate, annihilate, wipe out, root out’.  Serbian trebiti ‘root out, exterminate, eradicate’ can be compared to the above-mentioned words, trljanje/trenje ‘rubbing’ and another Serbian word that links trljanje and trebljenje ‘extermination, eradication’ – it is trvenje ‘a  process of mutual annihilation’ (hence Serb. po-tiranje, za-tiranje’annihilation’, sturiti, štrojiti ‘make sterile’). Now, with a high probability, we can say that Serbian teranje, trebljenje and trvenje are derived from the same source as English drive (Ger. treiben, ver-treiben = Serb. pro-terati ‘oust, expel, banish’).

4) Latin termen, terminis ‘limit, boundary, end, terminus’ (Gr. τέρμων ‘boundary’) may be related to Latin trabs ‘beam, tree-trunk’ and this one to Serbian taraba (from truplo, trupac ‘tree-trunk’) in a similar way as Latin palus, pali, which, at the same time, has the meaning ’stake, pole’ as well as the meaning ‘fence’ (cf. Eng. palisade, Serb. palica ’stake, stick, pole, club, rod’, from oblica ‘a round shaped pole’; Serb. oblo ’round’, obala ‘coast’, belega ‘mark, boundary’; hence Serb. obeležiti zemlju ‘to mark the land boundaries’). Although it is said that Serbian taraba ‘fence’ is a Turcism (P. Skok, Etimologijski riječnik hrvatskog ili srpskog jezika, Zagreb 1971; book III p. 443), in reality, it can be compared with Latin trabs (the fence made of treetrunks?; Gr. τράφηξ/τράπηξ ‘beam’) or Serbian trupac ‘treetrunk’ (from trubac; cf. Serb. truba ‘trump, trumpet’; OSlav. трѫба). Old English trem, trym ’step’ is probably related to German Treppen ’stairs’ (MLG trame, treme ’stair, rung of a ladder’; M.Du. trame ‘balk, beam’) and, indirectly, to the above mentioned Serbian taraba ‘a fence made of wooden logs’ (cf. Gr. τράφος ‘ditch, trench, fence’). A similar logic might be used to explain the origin of the Serbian word trem (or trijem) ‘portico, lobby, porch’; in fact, it is a porch made of wooden beams (Gr. τέρεμνον).

5) It seems that Sanskrit करभ karabha ‘trunk of an elephant, wal, metacarpus’ might be of a great help here. Namely, Sanskrit karabha seems to be related to Serbian truplo ‘trunk’, grana ‘branch’ and surla ‘proboscis’ (all from *hər-bhl-gn-; cf. Serb. osoran ‘with a big snout, with a nose turned up (contemptuously), surly’ (from *osurlen). If we compare Lithuanian straublys, Serbian surla and Dutch slurf, all with the meaning ‘trunk, proboscis, virile-member’ (Serb. surlav ‘having a big snout’) we may possible be able to understand the process of sound changes, which started from the above-mentioned *hər-bhl-gn agglutinated ur-form, whose original meaning was close to “curved line” or ’rounded object”.

6) The Old English verb treppan to tread, trample‘ appears to be the same word as Serbian noun trapanje ‘a heavy walk’, trampling’. Hence the Serbian adjectives trapav ‘awkward, clumsy’ (Cz. trapný), traljav ’sloppy’, noun truljenje ‘decay’, trulja ‘rag’, dronjak ‘rag’ (from *dro[b]ljnjak), droplja ‘bustard, wading bird, slow bird’ (Russ. дрофа; Cz. drop; Ger. Trappen) and even drolja ‘a tramp, prostitute’. According to Vasmer, Russian трамбовать ’stamp, trample’ is a borrowing from German trampeln ‘trample’

Shackled Cattle

January 16, 2009

But let us imagine that the original meaning was less definite, perhaps “large quadruped” or the like (the meaning “donkey” of the Armenian reflex is worthy of notice in this context).

Or might it be more definite? For instance, why not something like ‘hoof’? Is hoof related to coffin? An unusual question, isn’t it? How this sounds to you, crazy, foolish, silly… naive?

But, let us first see what the earliest history of hoof might be? According to Pokorny that word comes from the PIE root *kāpho-/ *k^ō̆pho-. Is the German word Huf (hoof) related to Skr. śapha- (hoof, claw) and Serbian šapa (paw; Russ. лапа; Cz. tlapa ‘paw’)? Vasmer says (following the Kluge’s earlier conclusion: …dass an russ. ‘kopát’ angeschlossen werden kann) that Slavic kopito (hoof) comes from the verb kopati (dig, shovel). Can it be accepted as an unshakable truth?

Is Slavic kopati related to German klopfen (to beat, nock, clap; Serb. klepati and lupati ‘beat’, ’strike’,‘clap’, ‘pound’, ‘throb’)?

Let us try to go a step further. What if English coin (OFr coigne, Lat. cuneus ‘wedge’) is related to Slavic kovati (to coin, hammer, forge; Russ. ковать, Cz. kovat) and klin (quoin, wedge, bolt, nail)? Greek κόπτω (to hammer, beat, strike) also belongs to the same sort of IE words.

Is the Serbian verb čupati (pluck, tear out, pull out) in any relation with English chop? What Serbian čupav (tufted) and čuperak/ćuba (tuft) have to do with the above-mentioned words? Of course, Serbian čupav tufted) is not directly related to the Serbian verb čupati (pluck), but both words are derived from the same root, or from the same basis.

Could we grasp that Serbian stopalo (sole; Russ. ступня) and taban (sole) are related to šapa (paw; Cz. tlapa, Russ. lapa) and dlan (Pol. dłoń; Russ.ладонь*; OSl длань)?

Are we able to understand the “unusual” relation between Latin solea (sole; cf. Gr. σανδάλιον; Aeol. σάμβαλον!) and solum (bottom, ground, soil), on one side, and the “connection” among Serbo-Slavic taban (sole), dlan (palm, flat of the hand), šapa (paw; from šlapa/tlapa), dolina (valley, dingle, dale) and zemlja (earth, soil) on the other?

Might the Greek word ἵππος (horse, mare) be derived from the above mentioned κόπτω or κοπτός (pounded, forged; κόπτε δ δεσμούς ‘to forge fetters’)? Is horseshoe a kind of fetter? Compare Slavic okov (fetter) and podkov (horseshoe; pod-okov, literally ‘under-fetter’; Serb. pot-kovica, from pod okov; Cz. pod-kova ‘horsehoe’, kovat ‘forge’, koval ‘forged’; Russ.ковать ‘hammer, forge’, подкова ‘horseshoe’, Pol. pod-kowa ‘horseshoe’, wy-klepywać ‘hammer out’).

English chain is derived from Latin catena (fetter). Although it is difficult to prove, it is quite possible that catena comes from Latin capto, similar to the Serbian verbs okovati, hvatati (catch) and German heften (to tack, staple); German Haft (arrest, jail) is the word equal to Serbian haps/ana (arrest, jail); cf. Ger. ver-haften (to arrest) = Serb. hapsiti (to arrest); also Haft (haft, handle) = Serb. hvat (handle, haft). I suppose I do not need to explain that the German adjective gefesselt (enchained, bounded) is the same word as Serbian uvezan/svezan (bounded, tied; Serb. s-veza-li su ga ‘they tied him up’).

Starting from the “more definite” we are now (unwillingly) pushed back to the David’s “less definite”. Comparing Latin asinus, Gothic asilus with the OSl осьлъ (Cz. osel; Pol. оsiоɫ, Sorb. wоsоɫ) it would probably be possible to imagine (“reconstruct”) the PIE ur-word for that horse’s cousin; it could be something similar to *ha-hin-lu-s or even *ha-gni-(b)lu-s. In Serbian, donkey is also called tovar (load, cargo), because donkey is well known draught animal.

Animals, cabalus and asilus, apeared to be related to the PIE “root” for animal.(*ane-). Although it doesn’t look like that, Latin and Slavic general word for animal are derived from the same basis. Caballus is nothing else but animal and Latin animal is related to Slavic životinja (animal) in the same way as čelovek (man) and galava (head) are related to human and head (OE heafod). One of the arguments that animal sounded once as g/khanibal is the Breton word aneval (animal; cf. Lith. gyvulys and Latv. dzīvnieks); also Greek words ζώων, ζωικός, ζωώδης (animal) seems to be very close to Slavic životnoe, životinjsko, živinsko, živina (animal).

The main problem here is to “reconcile” two different meanings, kovati (coin) and živeti (live) and to understand which one of these two was used as a name for horse (equus = okovan/okovat/hvat/uhvaćen/Haft ‘fettered’ or življenje ‘living’, živo(l)tinja ‘animal’. In some cases is absolutely impossible to determine the way of evolution of a certain word although we know exactly the basis from which that word began its “journey”.

For instance, Gothic asilus sounds very close to Greek ἀσυλαι̂ος (asylum). Asilus in asylum! 🙂 Let us first see why the Greeks used the same word for ‘letters’ as the Serbs did: slova = συλλαβαί (letters, syllable). There are two possibilities in Serbian. One is that the word ’slovo’ (letter, word; OSl слово) is related to ’slava’ (glory, celebration; OSl слава; Gr. κλέος ‘fame’, ‘glory’; see Vasmer p. 3,673) and the Slavic verbs sliti, slivati (pour off; amalgamate, merge, cast), izlivati (pour out), which is indirectly related to iz-lagati/iz-ložiti (to tell, speak; Gr. λόγος) via the verb iz-linuti (pour out; from iz-lignuti). Maybe, it would be interesting to mention that Greek verb αγάλλομαι (to exult, glory, jubilate) sounds almost the same as Serbian galama (noise, uproar; cf. Gr. γλώσσα tongue, language; Serb. glas voice). The other possibility iz that Greek and Serbian slova (letters) are mutually connected by the way how the letters were casted (Serb. iz-liti, iz-livati) from lead (Serb. olovo; from liti, livati ‘pour’, ‘cast’; livid color is in fact the color of lead). The simillar could have happened to the English word letter in relation to lead (metal) if the word lead is a cognate of Latin fluito (to flow; from PIE *plou-d-).

Greek σλη means “right of seizure”, “right of reprisal” and it might be compared to the Serbian nouns sila (force, power), silina (intesity) and the adjective silan (mighty, vehement, terrific). Similar as in Serbian, the Greek language has the word συλλείβω “collect by streaming”, which is equal to Serbian sliv (confluence) and the verb slivati/slijevati se (to flow; novac se sliva “the money flows in”).

Above mention “right of reprisal” or “right of seizure” is a “right to use the force” (Serb. sila ‘force’); also σύλλεκτος ‘gathered’, Serbian slagati (to gather, pile up). In reality, Serbian sila (force), Greek σύλησις (spoiling, plundering) and Serbian silovanje (violation, raping) are the words with the clear association to the river flowing or the river flooding. As we can see, the both languages, Greek and Serbian, used the “flowing of water” (Serb. slivanje “pouring”; Greek συλλείβω “collect by stream”, “flow together”) to name the letters (Gr. συλλαβαί; Serb. slova) and to describe a violent behavior (Serb, silovanje, sila; Greek σύλησις, σλη).

Now it becomes clear that ‘asylum’ is a place were the use of force (Serb. sila) is forbidden (α-̓συλαι̂ος without violence). Most of the Greek and Serbian words used the same basis, but usually it is very difficult to detect. For instance, who would say that Greek συγκλειστός (shut up) is the same word as Serbian zaključati (lock up, shut)? Above mentioned Serbian silovanje (violence), prisiljavanje (forcing, compulsion) or siljenje (forcing) are in fact just one form of sudden movement, similar to the Serbian verb kuljanje/suljanje/sukljanje (gushing; kuljati to spout, gush) and kuljanje comes from kobeljanje (rolling about; Eng. hobble) => gibanje (movement, motion, stir). Namely, it seems that all idea about life and movement is originally connected to the movement of clouds (Serb. oblak; from gnoblak => hoblak).

There is a “byname” for donkey in Serbian – sivonja – and that word (just like caballus) goes back to “animal” (Serb. životinja, živina); i.e. to the above mentioned kobeljanje/gibanje or življenje (gibati ‘move’ = živeti ‘live’). In order to understand this logic of “living” (gi-b-lenie => ži-v-lenie; Lith. gyvuoti) the Serbian word ugibati (to die, perish, expire; Lith. keipti) could be of a great help. Ugibati/ugi(b)nuti (die) is an antonym to živeti (live). Slavic konj (horse, OSl конь), from the proto Slavic *kobnь (Vasmer, p. 2316), and kobila (mare) are cognates to Latin caballus (pack-horse).

The diminutive of the word osel (donkey) is oslić and it rhymes with poslić (a small job). It is hard to tell if Serbian posao has anything in common with English business (busy; OE bisig). In Serbian, posao is probably related to the verb slušati (hear) and poslušati (obey; Russ. послушаться); hence the Slavic words sluga/posluga (servant; OSl слоуга; Cz. sluha, služebna; Gr. κλύω to hear; κέκλυτέ μευ “hear from me”, analogous to Serbian saslušajte me “hear me”, “listen to me”).

Although it is evident that ass/donkey is a man’s servant his name appeared to have nothing to do with his “servile” behavior. The name osel/Esel is most probably derived from the PIE root *stol-b- wherefrom we obtained the words like Slavic stub/stolb (OSl стлъпъ column, pillar, pole), Eng. stubborn, stub, stupid (OE stybb), Serb. tupav, zatupljen; dialect. zatupit (stupid). Now we can understand that osel/Esel is a “stupid animal”, an ass that was named like that in accordance with his stupidity. One of the key evidences for such an assumption is Russian word остолоп (ostolop; gawk, chump), also known as ослоп (metatheses ostolp => oslopt; oslo-p “fool, idiot”; Vasmer, p. 3,161).

What about the Latin word equus -i (horse)? Is it related to caballus (pack-horse)? Is the phonetic similarity between word equus, equi- (horse) and aqua- (water) just a product of pure coincidence? If we compare Serbian adjectives uhvaćen (captured, arrested, caught) and ukvašen (soaked, wet) we can suppose that the verb uhvatiti shifted to ukvasiti in accordance with the Serbian syntagn “uhvatila ga kiša” (caught by rain). Even the noun kiša (rain) appears as to be derived from ‘kvašenje’ (wetting, soaking)? Is Latin capto related to aqua and equus in the same way as the Serbian verbs hapsiti (arrest) and hapiti (take. seize) are related to hvatati (catch), kobila (mare), konj (horse; from *kobnь) and possible to kvasiti (soak, wet)?

What about the history of the words like Slavic skot/skotin/stoka (cattle, animal) and Gothic skatts (money), German Schatz (jewelry), OFries sket (money, cattle)? Does English catlle really originate from Latin caput? Why not from Latin capio or habeo or Gemanic haban/habt? What is the relation (if any) among words capio, habeo, haben, imanje and caput, heafod, golova, kefalos, globe etc.?

Finally, let me try to answer the question I postulated in the beginning of this “essay” about the origin of “equally-aqueous-equus-as/s-caballus“. 🙂 Is it not interesting that coffin also has the meaning “the horny part of a horse’s hoof” (Slavic kopyto)? In Serbian kofa is bucket (kofa from kabao, kabal, kablica bucket, pail) and coffin is kovčeg (box, chest, trunk) and it appeared to be related to the noun kovanje (forging, coining, mintage) as well as to kovač (blacksmith) and to kopča (buckle, fastener, clutch, clasp, fibula). Maybe, this is a good enough evidence that kopyto (hoof) is related to kovati (forge) and okovati (shackle); hence possible Serbian govedo (cattle), from okovati (shackle; dial. okovato ’shackled); okovato govedo “shackled cattle”?