Thursday, 17 January 2008

whore and kamasutra

Proto-Indo-European *keh₂- "to like, desire". The suffixed form *keh₂-ro- (*-ro- is an adjectival suffix) became Proto-Germanic *hōraz "one who desires", which became Old English hōre, taking on the meaning of "adulterer". This became Modern English whore. The wh spelling corresponded to a widespread dialectical pronuncation with /w/. The same thing happened to whole from Old English hāl.

The suffixed form *keh₂-mo- (*-mo- is a noun suffix) became Sanskrit कामः kāmaḥ "wish, desire, love", which combined with सूत्रं sūtraṃ "thread, aphorism, aphoristic rule" to form कामसूत्रं kāmasūtraṃ "a treatise on sexual love by Vātsyāyana".

sūtraṃ is from PIE *syuH- "to bind, sew", and is cognate with sew and suture.

*keh₂-ro- became Latin cārus "dear", and cāritā "affection". charity and cherish are from Latin cāritā, borrowed into English from Old French charite and cherir respectively. charity originally meant "love", and then came to be used for the love you show others by giving them money.

2 comments :

Jon Boy said...

I had assumed that the wh spelling was based on a faulty etymology, but now that you mention it, I think I've actually heard whole pronounced something like /wol/ before.

goofy said...

I've never heard that pronunciation, but the explanation seems reasonable. That bit of info is from the OED.