Thursday, 15 October 2009

pashmina and peculiar

*peḱ- "pull out (wool)" in the form *peḱ-s-men- became Persian پشم pašm which means "Wool. Fleece. Hair on the privities, pubes" or if you prefer, "Hair, wool, fur, down; the pubes; anything insignificant or of no moment, anything worthless". This word is found in پشمینه pašmīnah "woolen cloth", borrowed into English as pashmina.

The extended form *peḱ-u-, meaning "herd" and then "wealth", became pecūlium "riches in cattle, private property" and pecūliāris "of or relating to a person's peculium, belonging to a person, one's own, personal, private". Borrowed into Middle English as peculier "Distinguished in nature, character, or attributes from others; unlike others", becoming English peculiar.

Also pecorino and fee

I originally had written that the root *peḱu- "wealth" shifted to "cattle" in other languages but to "wool" in Persian. I changed this based on Glen Gordon's comments. Thanks Glen!


Glen Gordon said...

Hmm. How sure are you that *peḱu- doesn't originally mean 'herd' instead? The fact is we have *peḱ- 'to pluck out (as of wool)' which seems to disprove what you write. Rather the following semantic shift is more plausible: *peḱ-u 'those who are plucked' → 'sheep herd' → 'herd (in general)' → 'wealth'. Classic metonymy.

goofy said...

So *peḱ- is "to pluck out (as of wool)", and Persian pashm is derived from that. And *peḱ-u- "herd" is an extended form. That makes a lot of sense.

Glen Gordon said...

I don't make it a habit of remembering the politics behind every PIE root I come across but upon a quick google search, I notice that the view that the word first meant 'movable personal property' and shifted to 'cattle' was proposed by Benveniste (1969) to which Lehmann (1986) objected. As long as *peḱ- exists, I can't see how it can be effectively argued that *peḱu cannot be a u-stem derivation and ultimately related to wool and sheep.

And might I ponder on another silly question? What can "movable property" really mean in the context of a pastoral society that by definition is frequently on the move? Movable property as opposed to immovable property? What immovable property?? Are there Indo-European buildings I should know about? I may be missing something but it all seems like nonsense to me.

goofy said...

But Glenn, they did have buildings, didn't they? Words for "house","hearth" and "door" have survived.