"COGNATES IN ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN - DOC"
COGNATES IN ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN Darkstar 01/2010 How many historical cognates could you spot in two sufficiently distinct languages, such as English, and, say, Russian? If we had no Latin or Avestan, and English were the only Germanic language available, would we still be able to predict the existence of PIE? Some notes on reading Russian (1) The apostrophe in Slavic marks “softness”, which is actually a strong palatalization of the preceding consonant. It emerged as the loss of the short vowel /i/ in Proto-Slavic. Consequently, the pronunciation of /n’/ is in fact similar to the pronunciation of <n~> in Spanish or <ny> in canyon in English. For this reason, this sound is frequently denoted as <y> or <i> when written in the Latin alphabet and pronounced as a short /i/ by foreign speakers, e.g. /n’e/ > nie > nee-Eh (not), however this is never the case with the native speech, where the “softness” (palatalization) is intrinsically part of a preceding consonant; (2) /o/ is pronounced as /aw/ in British English or <o> in Spanish but never a diphthong—not as in “Oh!”; (3) /y/ is a back vowel distantly similar to /i/ in “bit”, “dim” in American English, but the back of the tongue is located much further in the throat. Similar sounds may be found in the Turkic languages or Korean, but the Slavic /y/ is probably even deeper. (4) The Russian stress is almost completely unpredictable and is one of the most difficult points in learning this language, since it’s not usually marked in writing. Herein, it is marked as a capital. (5) Unstressed vowels in the standard Moscow dialect are reduced, which means that they are normally pronounced indistinctly (o > a, e > i). A similar vocalism instability in the stressed position is, in fact, typical of American English (hot > hUt, sometimes: get > gIt ), but in Russian this type of vocalic reduction in the unstressed position is even stronger and more common, whereas most unstressed vowels are reduced to a schwa (more or less as in about). However, in some older Russian dialects, and other Slavic languages, such as Polish, the unstressed vowels are always clearly pronounced, as in Spanish or Italian. COGNATES body parts eye Oko (archaic; the modern “glaz” is akin to the English “glass”) nose nOs (finger)nail nOgat’ brow brOf’ beard baradA ear Uha rib r’ebrO cheek sh’ekA (not proven, though obviously similar) natural phenomena day d’En’ night nOch sun sOn-tse month mEs’ats (month; crescent moon) salt sOl’ snow sn’Ek water vadA wind v’Et’er (water)well valnA (wave) dale dal’Ina (valley); dOl (archaic: open valley) biological phenomena milk malakO egg yai-tsO meat m’Asa nest gn’ezdO leaf l’ist; l’ipest-Ok tree d’Ereva wild and domesticated fauna beaver bObr wolf vOlk lynx rYs’ (historically irregular, “lys’” expected) otter vYdra rook grAch (cf. Belorussian “grak") (< Old Eng. hroc) goose gUs’ (historically irregular, a Germanic borrowing into Proto-Slavic suspected) swine svin’yA (pig) cow karOva (not proven) bull, bullock bYk (relatedness not proven, but the phonetic similarity is obvious) mouse mYsh bee pch’elA (also akin to the Lithuanian “bite”) wasp asA hamster ham’Ak (irregular in Germanic, borrowed from Slavic) wild and domesticated flora lime l’Ipa aspen as’Ina alder al’hA ash-tree yAsen’ birch b’er’Oza rowan r’abIna beech bUk moss mOhh rye rOzh apple yAblaka domestic objects door dv’Er’ garden agarOd gOrad (city, town < fort surrounded with a wooden wall like a garden) family terms mother mAt’ brother brAt sister s’estrA daughter dOch’ man mUzh (husband) muzh-Ik (derogatory “man”, originally of a “peasant man”) muzh-ch’Ina (man) juvenile words with repetitions It’s frequently claimed that these words cannot be placed among cognates, since they are “reinvented” by children each time or something to that extent. This is not necessarily true, many juvenile words in fact seem to be going far back in time into the proto-language. mummy mAma nanny n’An’a daddy d’Ad’a (uncle) baby bAba (dame, broad; originally of a peasant woman) caca kAka (clearly ancient, also cf. Latin сacare, Armenian khakor, etc) pronouns, prepositions, modals I yA thou tY that (one) tOt (m.), tA (f.), tO (neut.) no n’Et not n’E on nA to do (as far as; to; until) need nAda to me mn’E (dative) me m’in’A (accus.) my mOi (posses.) thy tvOi (possessive) to thee t’ib’E (dative) thee t’ib’A (accusative) to be bY-t’ (there) is yEs-t’ am yEsm’ (Old Russian; Old Church Slavonic, but no longer in use) verbs to eat yEst’ to do d’Ela-t’ a deed, deal d’Ela (deed, deal, business) to stand sta-yAt’ Stop! StOi! to lie down lE-ch’ to lie (on th flo) lezhA-t’ to lie (=to talk) lgA-t’ lie (falsehood) lOzh to sit sidEt’ to beat bI-t’ to lick lizA-t’ to suck sosA-t’ to love l’ubI-t’ love (n) l’ubOv’ to sow s’Eya-t’ to sew shi-t’ to mill molO-t’ mill (n) m’El’-n’itsa mill-er m’El’-n’ik to bear brA-t’ (take) to skid skolz-It’ (slip, skid) to splash pl’esk-At’ to step (on) na-stup-At’ to thaw tAya-t’ to fart p’erd’-Et’ adjectives, adverbs many, a lot mnOga new nOv-yi thin tOnk’-ii s-mall mAlen’k’-ii mAlo (few, little) full pOln-yi (adj) polnO (adv) (full, a lot of, plenty) cold (adj) halOd-n-yi cold (n) hOlad yellow zhOlt-yi numbers one od’In two dvA three tr’I four ch’etYr’e five p’At’ six sh’Est’ seven s’Em’ eight vOsem’ (Osem’ in other Slavic) nine d’Ev’at’(irregular from *nEv’at’) ten d’Es’at’ thousand tYs’ach’a unobvious cognates These are the words that either changed their meaning or became strongly modified phonologically or have no clear-cut confirmation via regular changes: heart s’Er(d)-tse Hence, also s’er’ed’Ina (middle) s’erd’It-yi (angry, cf. broken-hearted) s’erd’It-s’a (to be angry) hundred stO home sem-yA (family) axle Os’ to know znA-t’ gold (n) zOlata green zel’On-yi big bal’sh-Oi (the relatedness is not proven) silver s’er’ebrO (Germano-Balto-Slavic isogloss, possibly borrowed as a cultural term) listen slUsha-t’ loud slOva (word). Hence, slAva (glory) knee kal’Ena (historically irregular) Hwo ktO Hwat shtO Hwere gd’E Hwen kagdA Hweel kal’e-sO Hwite sv’Etl-yi (light, adj) sv’Et (light, n) Hwistle (n) sv’Ist Hwine (n) zvOn (ringing) light lUch (ray, beam of light) good gOd-n-yi (usable, valid) long dl’In-n-yi length dl’inA long time dOlgа short karOt-k’-ii eel Ugor’ (doubtful) name Im’a sow, seed sEm’a (seed) foot p’Atka (ankle) pAda-t’ (fall down < “stumble”) to feed p’I-t’ (to drink) (probably, from “to feed a baby”) food p’Is-sh’a fist za-p’Ast’-ye (wrist) (< Old Russian p’ast’ “fist, palm”) feel pAl’e-ts (finger) fire pylA-t’ (to burn bright) pYl (rare ardor, blaze) for pr’e- (prefix “before” in verbs) feather p’erO to float, flow plY-t’, plAva-t’ (swim, float) fleet plOt (raft) mind mn’E-niye (opinion); pA-m’at’ (memory) to mind mnI-t’ (presume; think of oneself) mumble n’emOi (mute); (dissimilation m > n) hence n’Em-tsy (Germans < “mute, dumb people” apparently as opposed to Slovene—Slavs, or “worders”, those who use slovo (word) to speak) through ch’Er’ez (cf. Sanskrit tirah, Latin trans, though Vasmer neglects this, assigning it to Lithuanian skersas, which is more regular phonologically) breast br’Uha (belly, stomach (folksy)) stone st’enA (wall) side staranA (side), stranA (country) (relatedness not proven) deep dnO (bottom) hill hOlm (most likely, a Germanic borrowing) stem st’Eb’el’ (possibly unrelated) worm ch’Erv’ (irregular in Slavic, “ch’erm’” expected) sea Oz’era (lake) (uncertain: judging by the Icelandic sjór (sea), Old Norse sær, and Lithianian ežeras (lake); the meaning “lake” is also preserved in German, Swedish, Old English, etc) Conclusion: We found only c. 180 cognates in modern Russian and English, of which about 40 would look rather dubious at first glance or even after consideration. There may be more, but still this might look hardly enough to convince the skeptics of their relatedness, if we had no other historical sources. However, (1) the cognates occupy a large part of the basic vocabulary, and may become easily noticeable to anyone who wishes to take a closer look; (2) the ability of the Indo-European languages to clearly preserve the second syllable evidently indicates linguistic relationship in certain multifocal words, e.g. mother (mat’), sister (sestrA), brother (brat), etc, which can hardly be coincidental. Therefore, the final answer would probably be that these languages are most likely related to each other.