Wednesday, 4 November 2009

swallow and manticore

Proto-Indo-European *swel- "to eat, drink" became Iranian *khvāra- "eating". This combined with Old Persian martiya- "mortal man" to form an unattested compound something like *martikhor, which was borrowed into Greek as μαρτιχόρας martikhoras "man-eater", ie "tiger". This changed to μαντιχώρας mantikhōras and was borrowed into Latin as mantichoras. This was borrowed into English thru French as manticore.

In English, *swel- became swallow.

Old Persian martiya- "mortal man" is from *mer- "to rub away, harm". This root shows up in Persian مردم mardum "man" and مردم گیا mardum-giyā literally "man-plant". This is a possible source of Greek μανδραγόρας mandragoras and Latin mandragora, the mandrake plant.


Glen Gordon said...

If one is going to put the semantic fields of 'rub away' and 'die' together, I would think that 'wear away' is a more appropriate value in English to explain both senses. I've never thought of the two verbs being the same root, although, come to think of it... Why not?

Adam Roberts Project said...

I'm wondering about the connection between the verb swallow and the bird swallow.

mahendra singh said...

one swallow does not a supper make

goofy said...

The bird swallow has cognates in other Germanic languages, like Dutch zwaluw, Swedish svala, but it's not connected to the verb swallow.