Tuesday, 5 April 2011

myna, musth, masti, meat, mate

myna is borrowed from Hindi मैना mainā, derived from Sanskrit madana-śārikā a kind of bird, "with reference to the affectionate behaviour of kinds of birds" (OED). मदन madana is "love", from mad "to be drunk" from Proto-Indo-European *mad- "wet", also referring to various qualities of food.

*mad- also became Sanskrit matta "excited with joy... intoxicated" and Persian مست mast "drunk, intoxicated". The Persian word was borrowed into English as musth, a word referring to heightened agression in male elephants and camels due to elevated testosterone. The related Persian noun مستي mastī "intoxication" is used in modern Hindi to mean "mischief" or "fun". At least I assume that all the Hindi films entitled Masti and festivals like this one aren't meant to inspire you to get drunk.

In Germanic, *mad-i- became English meat. And Middle Low German mat "comrade" or the person one shares ones food with, which was borrowed into English as mate.


Glen Gordon said...

Wait, how did we get from *mad- 'to be intoxicated' to *mad-i- 'meat' again?

goofy said...

Well, the AHD says *mad- is "moist, wet, also refers to various qualities of food", and *mad-i- is a suffixed form. But which suffix?

Anonymous said...

Supposedly an "athematic derivational suffix", here the i- stem.

Page 112 (item 6.42)- Fortson IV, Benjamin W. Indo-European Langauge and Culture An Introduction. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics, 19. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004

Other than forming nouns from "verbal roots" (thus "derivational"), not sure what the semantic significance was. That Chopra problem has got me on the phonosemantic track, so if anyone has a guess I'm all ears.

As promised I'm trying to gather material on the phonosemantic/Chopra problem, I had this root *mad- (& germanic *matiz > *madis 'meat') under MeC 'wet' of my material buildup: http://hermeneuo.com/?page_id=1732

Still quite messy, my day job is keeping from making much progress lately. Sorry!

Glen Gordon said...

Goofy: "Well, the AHD says *mad- is "moist, wet, also refers to various qualities of food", and *mad-i- is a suffixed form. But which suffix?

I understand the suffix to be simply a variant of the common alternating theme *-o-/*-e-. However, semantically, I cry foul.

To get from 'I am drenched (in alcohol)' to 'I am drunk' makes some sense. But now what exactly does *mad-i- mean fundamentally? 'That which is wet'? Unless it's meat soup, I have a hard time thinking of such a word as synonymous with 'meat'. Still confused on what this lexical flowchart would look like.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but couldn't resist.

Lubotsky: The primary meaning in Indo-Iranian is clearly `to be under influence of Soma/Haoma'.

soma-mad - 'intoxicated with soma.' How cool a word is that?

@Glen - I think the phrase "eat drink & be merry" or even "party!" is what Pokorny 694-695 was aiming at. "wet" -> "greasy, fattening (meat)" -> "jolly" is another way to look at it.

Admittedly Starostin and Lubotsky appear to have separated Germanic matiz out from their mad- entries; apparently Watkins and Pokorny do not.

If you have any info on how *-i- alternates with *-o-/*-e- as a 'noun stem vowel', would be much obliged. It's always made me scratch my head.

jamesdp35 said...

It might be that meat/'something wet' might have refered to fresh or raw food, rather than something smoked, salted, dryed, or otherwise preserved. Most people like fresh food over something (perhaps sketchily) preserved, so a name for fresh (wet) food could come to refer to prefered and/or ideal foodstuffs, and thence to anything generally edible.

Glen Gordon said...

Hmmm, maybe we should just face the obvious that the proposed etymology is unproven and highly conjectural. Reminder: the KISS principle. If we want to explore this seriously, it would help if we had more facts and evidence. Are there any languages demonstrating a specific semantic shift of 'wet' → 'grease', for starters?

Anonymous said...

Regarding 'wet' → 'grease', how about the Indic data for starters? Pokorny 694-695 has Indic mad-, and then also mēdas- n. “fat”; mēdana- n. n. "the act of fattening [Mästung]" RV. x , 69 , 2.; and "mēdya- “fat” quote "(mēda- from *mazda-, IE *mad-do- or *mad[e]z-do- and = O.H.G. mast
" also mástu- n. (*mad-stu-)
"sour cream".

Would Indic mad-mēd- not be the simplest derviation?

goofy said...

Glen, aren't all these PIE etymologies unproven and conjectural? I'd argue that "unproven" is the wrong word, since science doesn't prove, it disproves. But if you meant that this particular etymology is less certain than others, I agree.

Glen Gordon said...

"Proof" means different things in different context. In science, it's what's measurable and tangible. In linguistics, it's what's evidenced which may not be by tangible evidence.

There's no evidence or any indication of this alleged semantic shift (unless someone can show otherwise?).

We shouldn't be naive to think that all theories have the same weight simply because they're "theories". If a theory fails to reflect likelihood (aka reality), it's flawed compared to those that can.

Unless there's any hint of this alleged development in Germanic or any evidence in real languages of this same semantic shift, on what rational basis is anyone supporting it?