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Re: [norse_course] Bear taboo

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  • Deep Stream
    My utterly unsubstantiated ramblings: Not only the original word for bear (related to Latin Ursus ) but also for wolf (related to Latin Lupus ) were lost
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 1, 2002
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      My utterly unsubstantiated ramblings:

      Not only the original word for 'bear' (related to
      Latin 'Ursus') but also for 'wolf' (related to
      Latin 'Lupus') were lost in Germanic apparently
      to taboo-ifying (there's a fancy word for that
      I've forgotten).

      The idea is that people were so anxious about
      encountering bears or wolves they avoided 'saying
      the name of the beast lest he come' and used
      monikers (bear being 'the brown one' and wolves
      being 'the woofers' - ie, people imitated their
      sound).

      Something funny I noticed: In German *almost* no
      nouns have declensive endings or alterations, but
      the word 'bear' does. My idea is that this is
      because the word bear developed for an adjective
      ('brown'). For this reason it still has some
      slight adjective-like declension. That's not true
      for the word wolf; however, "woof" is not
      necessarilly a adjective.

      In German *nouns* do not carry declensive changes
      like in Norse. In Norse, a noun can change alot
      depending on whether its in the nominative or
      accusative case. In German, the noun v v rarely
      changes at all in different cases, but any
      articles and adjectives related to it do change
      in generally the same way as they do for Norse.

      Look at the comparison in Germany:

      Hund (dog) is normal:
      Der braune Hund sieht mich (the brown dog sees
      me)
      Ich sehe deN brauneN Hund (I see the brown dog)
      >>The article and adjective 'the' and 'brown'
      both change in the accusative case.

      Baer is funny:
      Der braune Baer sieht mich (the brown bear sees
      me)
      Ich sehen deN brauneN BaereN (i see the brown
      bear)
      >>Not only the article and adjective but also the
      *noun itself* changes in the accusative case.

      The word 'bear' modifies in the accusative (and
      incidentally in all cases other than nominative)
      just like it would if it were a weakly-declined
      adjective instead of a noun. The modification is
      not like adjectives otherwise (ie no nominative
      or strong declination modification), but it seems
      funny that some random word like 'bear' should
      have adjective-like characteristics at all.

      There are other words in Germany that modify like
      this ('Customer'), but I dont' see that they are
      necessarilly because the root is an adjective.

      - DS

      --- Haukur Thorgeirsson
      <haukurth@...> wrote:
      > > > The general word is 'bj�rn';
      > > > thought to be derived from the same stem as
      > 'brown'
      > > > with the original IE-stem (lat. ursus)
      > being lost
      > > > due to a taboo.
      > >
      > > I'm subscribed to the digest, so this may
      > have been
      > > asked and answered, but I'm curious about the
      > taboo
      > > you mentioned. Can you describe more about
      > this
      > > or point me to some writings?
      >
      > Not really :-) My only source for this is
      > �slensk
      > or�sifjab�k by �sgeir Magn�sson. I didn't have
      > it
      > at hand when I wrote that and I don't have it
      > now
      > but I think he said "e.t.v. vegna bannhelgi;
      > perhaps
      > due to a taboo" (so my statement above is a
      > notch
      > too definite).
      >
      > I doubt anything is known for sure.
      >
      > Kve�ja,
      > Haukur
      >


      =====
      Kindest Regards,
      - DeepStream
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    • Dan Bray
      ... Certainly, Germanic languages have replaced the IE root-word for bear, possibly through taboo-ification , but this process is certainly not the case for
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 1, 2002
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        Deep Stream wrote:

        > My utterly unsubstantiated ramblings:
        >
        > Not only the original word for 'bear' (related to
        > Latin 'Ursus') but also for 'wolf' (related to
        > Latin 'Lupus') were lost in Germanic apparently
        > to taboo-ifying (there's a fancy word for that
        > I've forgotten).

        Certainly, Germanic languages have replaced the IE root-word for bear,
        possibly through "taboo-ification", but this process is certainly not the
        case for 'wolf'. The PIE *wlkwos "wolf", which gives us Latin 'lupus', Greek
        'lykon', Old Indic 'vrka' and Russian 'volk', also gives cognates in Germanic
        (ie ON 'ulfr', OE 'wulf', OHG 'wolf' and Gothic 'wulfs'). The PIE root may
        possibly be derived from words meaning "wild, dangerous", a possible
        indicator of taboo status, but there is no indication of taboo status for the
        wolf in Germanic languages.

        --
        Daniel Bray
        dbray@...
        School of Studies in Religion A20
        University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
      • Tony Glister
        Taboo is a Tongan word. Type Tongan Language in your search engine for interesting results. Nearest English probably proscribe. GB ... From: Deep Stream
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 1, 2002
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          Taboo is a Tongan word. Type Tongan Language in your search engine for
          interesting results.

          Nearest English probably "proscribe."

          GB

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Deep Stream" <DeepStream@...>
          To: <norse_course@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, July 01, 2002 10:36 AM
          Subject: Re: [norse_course] Bear taboo


          > My utterly unsubstantiated ramblings:
          >
          > Not only the original word for 'bear' (related to
          > Latin 'Ursus') but also for 'wolf' (related to
          > Latin 'Lupus') were lost in Germanic apparently
          > to taboo-ifying (there's a fancy word for that
          > I've forgotten).
          >
          > The idea is that people were so anxious about
          > encountering bears or wolves they avoided 'saying
          > the name of the beast lest he come' and used
          > monikers (bear being 'the brown one' and wolves
          > being 'the woofers' - ie, people imitated their
          > sound).
          >
          > Something funny I noticed: In German *almost* no
          > nouns have declensive endings or alterations, but
          > the word 'bear' does. My idea is that this is
          > because the word bear developed for an adjective
          > ('brown'). For this reason it still has some
          > slight adjective-like declension. That's not true
          > for the word wolf; however, "woof" is not
          > necessarilly a adjective.
          >
          > In German *nouns* do not carry declensive changes
          > like in Norse. In Norse, a noun can change alot
          > depending on whether its in the nominative or
          > accusative case. In German, the noun v v rarely
          > changes at all in different cases, but any
          > articles and adjectives related to it do change
          > in generally the same way as they do for Norse.
          >
          > Look at the comparison in Germany:
          >
          > Hund (dog) is normal:
          > Der braune Hund sieht mich (the brown dog sees
          > me)
          > Ich sehe deN brauneN Hund (I see the brown dog)
          > >>The article and adjective 'the' and 'brown'
          > both change in the accusative case.
          >
          > Baer is funny:
          > Der braune Baer sieht mich (the brown bear sees
          > me)
          > Ich sehen deN brauneN BaereN (i see the brown
          > bear)
          > >>Not only the article and adjective but also the
          > *noun itself* changes in the accusative case.
          >
          > The word 'bear' modifies in the accusative (and
          > incidentally in all cases other than nominative)
          > just like it would if it were a weakly-declined
          > adjective instead of a noun. The modification is
          > not like adjectives otherwise (ie no nominative
          > or strong declination modification), but it seems
          > funny that some random word like 'bear' should
          > have adjective-like characteristics at all.
          >
          > There are other words in Germany that modify like
          > this ('Customer'), but I dont' see that they are
          > necessarilly because the root is an adjective.
          >
          > - DS
          >
          > --- Haukur Thorgeirsson
          > <haukurth@...> wrote:
          > > > > The general word is 'björn';
          > > > > thought to be derived from the same stem as
          > > 'brown'
          > > > > with the original IE-stem (lat. ursus)
          > > being lost
          > > > > due to a taboo.
          > > >
          > > > I'm subscribed to the digest, so this may
          > > have been
          > > > asked and answered, but I'm curious about the
          > > taboo
          > > > you mentioned. Can you describe more about
          > > this
          > > > or point me to some writings?
          > >
          > > Not really :-) My only source for this is
          > > Íslensk
          > > orðsifjabók by Ásgeir Magnússon. I didn't have
          > > it
          > > at hand when I wrote that and I don't have it
          > > now
          > > but I think he said "e.t.v. vegna bannhelgi;
          > > perhaps
          > > due to a taboo" (so my statement above is a
          > > notch
          > > too definite).
          > >
          > > I doubt anything is known for sure.
          > >
          > > Kveðja,
          > > Haukur
          > >
          >
          >
          > =====
          > Kindest Regards,
          > - DeepStream
          > |'''' ''''||'''' '||'''' '':
          > ||'''' ''''|'|||'''' '||'''' '|'''':
          > ||'|'''|'''' ':|||''''||'''' ':|||''''||'''' ':
          > |||'''' '|'''' '''|':|'''' ''''||''':|||'''' '|||''||''
          >
          > __________________________________________________
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          >
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          >
          > - Keth
          >
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