Comment by Dušan Vukotić

[This is from a comment on some comments on Don Ringe's post "More on IE wheels and horses", 1/10/2009. It was moved here because at almost 2,000 words, it's really too long for a comments section. To others: in general, if you have a comment of this length to make, please post it elsewhere and put in your comment a summary and a link. (Mark Liberman)]

Or might it be more definite? For nstance, 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 words 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 δὲ 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.

Both 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 the 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 σῡλη 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, σῡλη).

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 osl (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 осло́п (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) appeares 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 realtion (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"? :-)