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Word Origin

Word Origin

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04/05/2013

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Etymology:The Origin of Words
Dušan Vukotić
 
(sci.lang discussion)Sweet Sevda(h) 
Tuesday, 5. January 2010, 08:29:10The second annotation I made in my 
 article was
sevdah 
, a turcism (Turkishloanword) in Serbian. 
wrote a comprehensive book on Turkish loanwords inSerbo-Croatian (
Turcizmi u srpsko-hrvatskom jeziku 
, 1966, p. 561), and there he said thatSerbian
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 thereis 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 andwhite';
bilad al-sudan ' 
the land of the blacks'), although it have another additional meaning inphilosophical 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 fluidwas 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 andSerbia as
sevdalinke 
(love songs). At first sight, everything seems to be known: the Turks tookthat word from the Arabs, while the Serbs loaned the same word from the Turks, with some"local' rearrangements done by adding the final -
. Nevertheless, there are some vague thingsabout the Turkish word
sevda 
'love'. First one is the above mentioned discrepancy between themeanings 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 inconsideration 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 fromthe same basis as IE words for "sweet" (
*swe 
-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 asimilar morphology. For example,
uzdah 
'sigh',
predah 
'respite, time-out',
zadah 
'smell', andalmost 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 themeaning '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 toeye' - and in addition - 'to be fond of seeing/meeting someone'. At first glance, it seemsimpossible 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 
 
lava 
ṇá 
'salt, saline, brine', Gr.
ἅλας/ἅλς 'salt'
- elision of theinitial h/s; Gr.
ἁλμυρός = Serb.
salamura 
'brine') appeared to be derived from the PIE "root"
*s 
ə 
-(b 
 )l- 
, which is in fact a prefixed
*belg
h-
basis (cf. Skr.
sa-lava 
ṇ 
'with salt, tin'; cf. Serb.
so- ljenje, do-so-ljavanj
 
‘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 basicwords 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 toconnect this word to Arabic
 
sawâd 
'black' or 'black bile' (the second meaning just in aphilosophical sense; adj.
aswad, saudâ 
'black'); they are semantically conflicting with eachother. 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
*p 
-nos 
). Similar is with the Serbian adverb/adj.
crn-o 
'black' (Russ.
чѐрный, 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
*g 
hw 
ormo-; 
Skr.
gharmá 
'heat, warmth'). Thisprocess 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, theSlavic "root"
*črъnъ 
is derived from the PIE
*g 
hw 
ə 
r-(bl)-g 
- 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
sw 
ṭ 
,
which means 'to be burned' and Akkadian
šahānu 
'to heat up'. Maybe this Aramaic word (sw
) 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 
alsomeans - as we have seen from the above verses - 'lover'. Serbian
 
zavođenje 
is the word thatdescribes the process of seducing and therefore it is the word from the same "arsenal" as Latin
seduco 
-
ducere.
 
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 
issemantically mismatching enough as to be considered related to Arabic
sawdā.
Sometimes it ispossible to make "connections" among different words from different language groups according

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