Thursday, 14 July 2011

stomach and zawn

The AHD gives the Proto-Indo-European root as *stom-en- "Denoting various body parts and orifices". In Greek it's στόμα "mouth", whence στόμαχος "throat, gullet" then "stomach", and then borrowed as Latin stomachus, Old French stomaque, borrowed as English stomach. The English word was first spelled stomak/stomack, it seems that it was later respelled stomach after the Latin spelling.

In Celtic it became Middle Breton staffn, modern Breton staoñ "palate", Welsh safn "mouth, jaws, palate", and Cornish sâwn "cleft, fissure, ravine". The Cornish word was borrowed as zawn, a fissure or cave in a coastal cliff.

1 comment :

Hermeneuo.com said...

Cool post.

Was wondering if you thought that nouns/verbs with -o- as the root vowel have to be derivatives of more primitive verbs or nouns. A well known example is Greek domos 'home' being derived from *dem- 'to build'. The idea is that athematic words with -e- as the root vowel are the most primitive.

Here you have stoma, stomatos (i.e. *stomns, *stomntos?). This appears to be a consonant -en- stem neuter noun with -o- coloring in the root, with a mobile s in front to boot.

My crackpot tendencies would lead me to suspect that stoma, stomatos is too well built-up to not be derived from anything.

I can think of two candidates, the most obvious one being the root temǝ- (Waktins 90) of ambiguous part-of-speech. It includes an -i- stem verb *tomyomi- 'darken the mind, suffocate' (Sanskrit tamyami, Slavic tomjǫ), -es- stem Latin verb temerō 'pollute', -es- Sanskrit veb tamas 'darkness - and -a-stem Slavic tьma 'darnkess' with derived adjective tьmьnъ. All of these lemmata seem to be structurally well built-up, perhaps a clue they are derived from another word.

There's also a verb tem- 'cut' (Greek τέμνω, Slavic tьnǫ). Wondering if this is actually the source of Greek stoma (*stomns) - semantically, 'body parts and orifices' < 'dark place' < 'cavity' < 'that which has been hewn (cut)'.