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Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:49 am
by spiritus
A significant percentage of Indo-European words have Latin and Greek origins.
I'm curious as to what the major etymological influences of Latin and Greek might have been. In particular I would like to know if any of the languages spoken in pre-christian North and Central Africa, were sources. This would include Arahamic, Hebrew, Mdu Neter, and Bantu.

Sincere thanks in advance, for any contributions to this forum.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:13 pm
by haro
Che, I think it should be possible to assess the percentage of words of Greek and Latin origin in modern languages, although I have yet to find a list.

Of course Romance languages (Italian in the first place as the closest daughter of Latin, but also Spanish, Portuguese, French etc.) mainly consist of Latin words, most of them up to 90% or even more (just a rough guesstimate of mine, though). But Latin words have found their way also into virtually all other modern European languages. English, originally a Germanic language, is a special case in that, thanks to William the Conqueror, it came under very heavy French influence. That's why there are so many pairs of words of Germanic and Latin origin that mean roughly the same. Just a few examples: forbid / prohibit, drink / beverage, town / city, teacher / master, etc.. Very often the word of French / Latin origin stands for the more sophisticated, more elaborate, more processed or socially more acceptable version: calf / veal, cow (ox) / beaf, sheep / mutton, house / mansion, wound / injury, etc.. That's because Old William's folks were the high-brass after the Battle of Hastings. So, among Germanic languages, English is the one with the highest share of Latin words.

As for Greek - there is no direct successor of Ancient Greek other than Modern Greek, and that is still so extremely close to its ancient form that Gospel texts in a religious service are read in their original Ancient Greek form (almost 2000 years old) and still fairly easily understood by everybody without translation. However, many Greek words were adopted by Ancient Rome, from were they sneaked into modern languages. That's most obvious in scientific terms. 'Mathematics,' 'geography,' 'logic,' 'astronomy,' 'autopsy,' 'telephone,' 'antibiotics,' etc. all are Greek words, but there also are lots of less obvious examples such as 'critical,' 'center,' 'pole' (the north pole, not the pole in the fence!), 'baptize,' 'school,' 'hour' and the like. I would dare say that the number of Greek words in modern languages outside Greece is roughly the same both in Romance and Germanic languages including English.

By the way, it didn't work the other way round. Greeks have adopted very few words from other languages, especially not those modern Greek-Latin mongrels such as 'automobile' ('autokineto' in modern Greek), 'television' ('teleorasi'). The Latin word 'university' can be found all over Europe and other areas with strong European influence (université, università, universidad, Universität, etc.), but in Greek it's still 'panepistimion.'

As for Hebrew - some words came into modern languages through Yiddish and other ways, but by far fewer than from Latin and Greek. Amharic (I guess that's what your "Arahamic" means, since Aramaic, the native language of Jesus Christ, wasn't spoken in Africa other than maybe in a few small Jewish diaspora colonies) - no idea. I thought it surfaced around the 13th century as a synthesis of several Kamito-Semitic dialects, when Ethiopia had been Christian already for more than 1000 years. I know even less about the influence of the other languages you mentioned, so I better shut my mouth.

P.S. for native Greek speakers (if there are any in this community): Of course I know that Modern Greek, although still sticking to the ancient orthography (again a Greek word, by the way), pronounces 'autokineton' as 'avtokinito'. I speak, write and read Modern Greek fluently, but I did not want to confuse non-Greek people who learned Ancient Greek in school (Hi John Barton!). They still believe in the silly stuff Erasmus wrote 500 years ago. And writing modern Greek in Greeklish might be even more confusing.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:56 am
by Erik_Kowal
Good job you didn't call it Gringlish, Hans Joerg -- as everyone knows, that's the English spoken by gringos.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:49 am
by Edwin Ashworth
Didn't one Scouser achieve an A-Starr in it?

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:21 am
by Erik_Kowal
Yes, after he had beatled off to practise in a cavern.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 11:30 am
by haro
Erik, it wasn't me who called it 'Greeklish.' That's the "official" Netlingo term for various ways of transliteration of Greek into the Latin alphabet. It is meant for use by Greeks in situations where they cannot use their own alphabet, for instance in Internet chatrooms that cannot handle Greek character sets.

The problem is there is no standard but many very different approaches, none of them really satisfactory. There are Greek letters that have no matching piece in the Latin alphabet, and there are others that have one but it looks so different from its Greek sibling that it is confusing for Greek eyes. For instance, the Latin 'X' is the Latin version of the Greek 'Xi' but it looks exactly like the Greek 'Chi.'

Many groups have developed many variants of Greeklish to make things easier. I can fairly easily read most of them but do not like to write any of them.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:55 pm
by spiritus

Judging from your response, I think the phrasing of my inquiry may have been lacking in clarity. I apologize.

I was not asking what percentage of the English language had Latin or Greek roots. Moreover, I was not seeking the unsubstantiated assertions you made, as to the appropriations, from the late Vulgar Latin, which is evident in all Romance languages.

In short, my question was; from which languages, in general, might Greek based Latin have been appropriated and in particular; what are the languages from which Greek is sourced?

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:33 am
by haro
Spiritus, yes, I misconstrued your inquiry indeed. "... influences on Latin and Greek ..." would have made things clear.

Latin is a member of the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European language family, and Greek is the only member of the Greek subfamily, so Latin is not based on Greek, although it was influenced by it. These two subfamilies are separate descendants of the (assumed and undocumented) Proto-Indo-European parent language. The very early roots of Latin were related to - but not derived from - Sanskrit and Greek, and, to a lesser extent, also Celtic and Germanic.

In the Greek subfamily with only one member, of course, the possibilities of comparative linguistics are somewhat limited, and so are my resources. I don't think you will get much help here at Wordwizard. The Welcome paragraph on our home page states that it's all about English. Although English has been influenced by Latin and Greek, we usually don't go back to mostly undocumented and partly speculative earlier sources. None of us is specializing in Hittite or Phoenician. Sorry.

As for what you called "unsubstantiated assertions" - well, I admit I simplified things because I didn't want to blow up my exposition even more. Of course I know that things are more complex than described above.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:55 am
by mongrowl
Unless you are just phishing, thease sites may be in your interests.
TOWER OF BABEL SAMPLE: If the same remains were dug up in India, China or Africa, you can bet that the so-called Indo-European roots in many dictionaries would be traced back to ancient forms of Sanskrit, Sino-Tibetan or Nilo-Saharan. Later on you will see many obvious examples of Indo-European roots that are mildly disguised forms of Edenic.
Which is fostered by this group.

PS another good PIVOT SITE is

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:36 am
by Erik_Kowal
Louis, while everyone is entitled to his opinions regarding the story of the Tower of Babel and the Garden of Eden in relation to the origins of human language, those opinions belong firmly in the realm of religion and have no place in any serious discussion of linguistics, philology or the evolution of language. Religion is the domain of faith; linguistics, on the other hand, seeks to piece together the history and evolution of the world's languages from demonstrable evidence.

Clearly you are a believer in those ancient stories; I am not, and to me it is not credible that someone without a religious agenda, wanting to understand how language evolved, could, for instance, take seriously the premise of the Edenics site that:

"Here you will discover that ALL human words contain forms of the Edenic roots within them. These proto-Semitic or early Biblical Hebrew words were programmed into our common ancestors, Adam and Eve, before the language dispersion, or babble at the Tower of Babel -- which kickstarted multi-national human history. I congratulate you for investigating for yourself if language is an engineered miracle or merely the evolved gesturing of chimps."

This quote proclaims to the world that its writer lacks any conception of the difference between myth and fact. Indeed, his website implicitly invites us to disengage our faculties of logic and reason, and surrender ourselves to an incoming tide of selective mythology that will toss us into a stinking swamp of speculation while the pullulating flotsam of the author's concocted conclusions glops around us on every side.

The Perseus site contains an enormous amount of historical material that is both interesting and of reputable origin. However, it is disingenuous to post the Tower of Babel and Edenics links here as though they actually represented a serious contribution to our understanding; this is not a forum for debating religiously-based beliefs even -- or perhaps especially -- when those beliefs are dressed up as paleolinguistic research and investigation.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:57 am
by mongrowl
WOW!! GEEZ? That isn't in a very good SPIRITUS.

Another good PIVOT SITE

Phoenician words are found in Greek and Latin classical literature as well as in Egyptian, Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew writings. The language is written with a 22-character alphabet that does not indicate vowels.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:09 pm
by haro
Louis, I guess no one doubts the influence of Phoenician, especially of the Phoenician alphabet. However, I don't know how far I can trust the stuff. The family tree at the very top of that page shows both the Etruscan and the Greek alphabet as sort of parallel descendants of the Phoenician alphabet. However, the Etruscan alphabet was derived from the Cumae alphabet, a variant of the Greek alphabet used in southern Italy. First blunder...

The first sentence in the first paragraph tells us that Taautos was "the father of tautology or imitation." Without further elaboration that sounds as if tautology was named after Taautos. Didn't you take it that way too? Complete nonsense. The word 'tautology' comes from Greek 'tauto logo' ('the same word' in accusative form). And that's what tautology really is: a needless repetition of an idea, statement or word (Merriam-Webster OnLine). It has nothing to do with imitation, and I assume it has nothing to do with Taautos either. After that second pretty bad blunder, still being in the first sentence of the first paragraph, mind you, I stopped reading. Can you understand me?

Maybe other pages on that Web site are better, but the one you posted above pretty much looks like the work of a committed amateur using somewhat questionable sources.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:06 am
by spiritus

Your response to Mongrowl's suggested link, effectively conveyed the rudeness and lack of civility in discourse, you intended.

Your point was significantly less impressive.

"...(these beliefs) have no place in any serious discussion of linguistics, philology or the evolution of language"

Erik, any 'serious discussion' of linguistics, and the '*evolution of language', would most certainly allocate places of importance, not only for the role of religion in respect to a languages' word sources, but also inclusion of critical areas for the language generative elements supplied by:

Philosophical world views; creation myths; cultural patterns; gender roles; social and behavioral psychology; artistic disciplines; oral traditions; and genetic and geographical migration. This is the short list of linguistical contributory factors to any languages' origin.

"Religion is the domain of faith;..."

Erik, Religion is not the domain of faith, belief is. And faith in ones belief is often ones 'religion' of choice. This would include a faithful belief in the absolute reason and logic of science; or the absolute belief in the uselessness of any opinion, devoid of 'demonstrable evidence'.

The noun, 'religion'is from the early Ecclesiastical Latin verb , 're-liga-re'. 'Re/ra' is from the Hebrew(ra)/Greek(affix)/Amharic/M'du N'jter(Kemetic), meaning; 'source', 'whole', 'beginning', 'All That Is' or 'the One'. The stem, 'liga' is from Latin/Greek, meaning 'to bind'. (The root of 'ligament'.)
Thus, originally, the act of religare, meant 'to bind (back) to source'. The positing of 're' at both the front and back of this word literally and figuratively re-in-forces(pun intended relentlessly)its meaning.

The later use of 're' as a prefix meaning simply to 'go back' had its earliest usage in St. Jerome's Vulgate; the translation into Vulgar Latin of biblical writings in Greek, which were earlier translations of the original Hebrew. (Take note Haro.)

Its,(religare), earliest usage had no direct religious connotations.

'Binding to the source' was attained by acquiring and applying the laws revealed by higher or divine knowledge. The claim to possession of doctrines of divine knowledge was not limited to early Christianity. But, that requires elaboration that is not relevant here.

Religare was the act of an individuals re-membering, as it were, to All That Is; by learning, believing, and accepting in faith, any doctrine claiming a path to absolute knowing. By that difinition, and your comments----it still applies.

In curious contrast, your almost religious reverence for 'logic' is understandable. The logic of 'logos' is from the Greek, by way of the Hebrew 'loh-gohs', meaning the 'mind of God'.

"en ra-KAY ayn ha LOH-gohs", is the beginning of the Greek Genesis of John 1:1.

The first two words, reading left-to-right, are en ra-KAY, the preposition en meaning in, on, or at, followed by the noun ra-KAY meaning beginning or first. This phrase corresponds to the first line in the Hebrew Book of Genesis, 'be-re-SHIYT'; in fact the Greek (Septuagint) translation of Genesis 1:1 starts off with just these two words, en ra-KAY.

The next word, ayn, is the third person imperfect form of the verb "to be" -- it means "he/she/it was."

The final two words, ha LOH-gohs, are the definite article "the" followed by that very important biblical word Logos. The pronunciation of ancient Greek has it with short O's.

Its semantic range is broad, though I suspect this was not the case originally. Presently accepted meanings include; the mind or word (of God), source, one thing, matter; it's also not the only Greek word rendered "word" in English (the second most common is RA-ma, usually transliterated as rema). English Bibles invariably render ha LOH-gohs in John 1:1 as "the Word" (or "the word," since there is no distinction between upper and lower case letters in the oldest manuscripts).

So a word-for-word translation from the Greek to English is just what most English Bibles render: "in-beginning was the-word.

Thus, the faithful (you may sign that list Erik) may conclude that logic (and by extenstion, reason) are the sole domains of God. Mankind must make do with religion.

Erik,when you write;

"...linguistics, on the other hand, seeks to piece together the history and evolution of the world's languages from demonstrable evidence."

I'm tempted to insist that you provide,'demonstrable evidence', to support your obvious assumption, in the form of whatever might constitute a 'Linguistic's Mission Statement'

I must admit I'm impressed by your psychic abilities; evidenced by your ability to gleam Mongrowl's personal belief system and 'agenda', from nothing more then the link supplied.

"Clearly you are a believer in those ancient stories; I am not, and to me it is not credible that someone without a religious agenda, wanting to understand how language evolved, could, for instance, take seriously the premise of the Edenics site".

*(Note: Languages can not evolve, influence or develop. These are relative values. Languages are not independent agencies nor do they pocess accountability. They doexhibit the various appropriations and acquisitions supplied by their speakers.
Establishing the origins of any language should entail a through inclusion and comparative analyses of all the applicable attributes of its agents---human beings).

For the religion or logic challenged':

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:27 am
by Erik_Kowal
Che/Spiritus, while we're both in a mutually congratulatory frame of mind I ought to mention that I'm equally impressed by your ability to completely miss the point of my last posting. I was not saying that religious practices and beliefs are irrelevant to the development of language; it is also obvious that "philosophical world views; creation myths; cultural patterns; gender roles; social and behavioral psychology; artistic disciplines; oral traditions; and genetic and geographical migration" are all important contributors to shaping its evolution. You read far too much into my statements if you believe I was stating the contrary.

What I was saying was that the myths of the Tower of Babel and the Garden of Eden have no explanatory power whatsoever in relation to how language actually developed. This is precisely because they are myths -- stories invented to account for something that our forebears wanted to understand, and for which such tales were needed to fill the void in their knowledge. I would like to think that overall we have moved on in our knowledge of the world since these accounts came into being (despite the ludicrous attempts now being made in some US states to interpolate creationist dogma into the teaching of science, where it patently has no place).

Finally, I dispute that my posting was rude or lacking in civility. Was I abusive to Louis/Mongrowl? I think not. On the other hand, when it is obvious that nonsense is being peddled as fact, I see no reason to shrink from pointing it out, or to apologise for doing so.

Mother of All Etymologies

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:44 am
by spiritus
I was wondering, if the definition of tautology, you supplied, might also be applicable to those instances in which a speaker or writer, claiming adherence to the aim of objective argument, regurgitates, ad nauseam, the canonical authority of the opinions of others, deemed acceptable by the status quo?

The same speaker/writer, feels no need to explain or prove the objectivity of the appropriated opinions of the status quo he parrots---yet is defensively adament that those speakers/writers, whom express challenges to the authority of the status quo, prove their objectivity.

So Haro, tell me, is that 'tautology', or just a case of, 'monkey see, monkey do'?