Monday, 13 April 2009

soma and prosciutto

Soma, the drug in Huxley's Brave New World, is from Sanskrit सोम soma "the juice of the Soma plant" from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma- from Proto-Indo-European *seuH- "to take liquid".

R̥gveda 9.66.7
प्र सोम याहि धारया सुत इन्द्राय मत्सरः | दधानो अक्षिति श्रवः || ७ ||
pra soma yāhi dhāramā suta indrāya matsaraḥ | dadhāno akṣiti śravaḥ || 5
Flow onward, Soma in a stream, effused to gladden Indra's heart,

Bringing imperishable fame.

In English, the extended form *seuH-g- became suck. In Latin, it became sūgere "to suck", and exsūgere, pp. exsūctus "to suck out". This became Italian asciutto "dried", which combined with the prefix pre- to form presciutto "thoroughly dried up". This was altered to prosciutto.

The soma in somatic is unrelated. It's from Greek σῶμα sōma "body" from Proto-Indo-European *teuh₂- "to swell". This root also gives us thousand, thigh, tumor, quark and butter, and of course the Soma Free Psychoplasmic Institute from the film The Brood.


Mattitiahu said...

That is one nice etymology.

(and an awesome Ṛgveda quote too!)

Cailliomachas said...

Cf. Old Irish: súg (Modern Irish: sú) (Latin: sucus); Old Irish: súigid (Latin, sugo, sugere); cf. subh, subhach, súgach, etc.