Thursday, 20 March 2008

knee and polygon

Proto-Indo-European ǵenu- "knee, angle" (homophonic with ǵenu- "jaw") in the form ǵneu- became Proto-Germanic *knewam, Old English cnēo, English knee.

The suffixed variant *ǵōnw-yā- (*ǵōnw-yeh₂?) became Greek γωνία gōnia "point, edge, angle", borrowed as the -gon of polygon. (poly- is from πολύς "many" from PIE *pelh₁- "to fill".)

In Latin the root became genū "knee", as in genuflect. The ODEE states that genuine is from Latin genuīnus "innate, natural" from genū: "The orig. ref. was to the recognition of a new-born child by a father placing it on his knees". Alternately, genuīnus is an alternation of ingenuus "native, indigenous, not foreign" (here), which is from *ǵenh₁- "to give birth, beget".

4 comments :

Glen Gordon said...

I don't think *ǵōnw-yə- can be considered a valid PIE reconstruction. A Pokornyism for *ǵōnu-ye-h2 perhaps? But still, aside from Greek gōnia, what else warrants attributing this particular formation to the Proto-Indo-European stage?

goofy said...

typo... Watkins has *ǵōnw-yā.

Glen Gordon said...

I see. Still, this should at least be updated to *ǵōnwyeh2 then. However, the proper syllabism of the semivowel *u/*w is weighing on my mind. It seems as though the choice of consonantal *w over vocalic *u either creates an awkward coda in the first syllable or an awkward onset in the second syllable. All this, just to accomodate a lonely Greek reflex, it seems.

Forgive me if I'm wrong but it seems to me as though the stages of Proto-Greek and of Proto-Indo-European are being confused here.

goofy said...

No, I see your point. *u makes more sense.