Slavic languages: Bog and fagein

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by xari, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. xari Member

    I read somewhere that Slavic word Bog is related to Greek fagein.

    Can someone explain the correlation between the ideas of God and eating?

  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The Slavic word for “god” (Church Slavonic bogŭ) is believed to be a very ancient borrowing from an Old Iranian word cognate to Old Persian baga- and Avestan baγa-, “god”. This in turn is connected to the Iranian verb bag- (Sanskrit bhag-) “to distribute”, the idea being that the gods distribute good or bad fortune. The Greek cognate φαγεῖν "to eat" occurs in classical Greek only in the strong aorist ἔφαγον, which is active in form but has a meaning more like the middle voice of the Sanskrit verb (“to receive as one’s portion, enjoy”).
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  3. xari Member

    Thank you for your explanation.
  4. shawnee

    shawnee Senior Member

    English - Australian
    If you're ever in the mood to flesh out that connection for us mere mortals fdb, I for one, would be very interested.
  5. francisgranada Senior Member

    For completion, in the Slavic languages there exist also adjectives derived from *bogŭ with the meaning of "rich", e.g. Polish bogaty, Russian богатый, Czech and Slovak bohatý etc ... which may confirm the idea of the "distribution" (in this case evidently of "good fortune" :)).
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  6. ancalimon Senior Member

    There is also the Turkic "bay", "bey", "beğ"

    Proto-Turkic: *baj ( ~ -ń)
    Altaic etymology: Altaic etymology[​IMG]

    Meaning: 1 holy 2 God 3 true, reliable, honest
    Russian meaning: 1 святой 2 бог
    Karakhanid: bajat 2 (MK - Argu, KB), bajɨq (MK Oghuz, IM) 3
    Turkish: bajat 2, bajɨq (dial.) 3
    Middle Turkic: bajat 2 (Abush., Sangl.)
    Oyrat: baj-lu 1, maj- 'first part in a number of theonyms', baj terek 'world tree'
    Yakut: bajanaj 'name of a God'
    Kirghiz: baj terek 'protection, advocacy'
    Comments: EDT 385. See VEWT 56-57 (for derivatives), TMN 2, 379. The root should be probably distinguished from *bāj 'rich' (v. sub *bēǯu). An unattested Tuva source > Russ. dial. (Tuva) bajbá 'spirit of hunting luck', see Аникин 109. Yak. > Russ. (Yak.) bajanaj, see Аникин 125-126.


    The word did not actually mean GOD but something more like "deity" or "lord". Think of it like this: People thought that any rich person who ruled over others was bestowed luck, good fortune.
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There are probably a number of different Turkish words involved here, but bey “lord” is evidently an Old Turkish borrowing from Sogdian βγ- “god, lord, sir”, from the old Iranian root baga- discussed in no. 2. This is also Nişanyan’s well-informed opinion.
  8. ancalimon Senior Member

    Yes that is the case if you theorize that Turks saw Iranians as noble people and every word in Turkic dialects around the world related to nobility is Iranian in origin. On the contrary the Turks did not think highly of Iranians back then.

    Actually at first Nişanyan thought that it entered Turkic though Chinese word meaning "landlord", "noble person". I can see that he changed his idea.

    I would say that I find it more probable that this word entered Chinese and Sogdian from Turkic.
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The Sogdian word has an impeccable Iranian etymon (baga-), which occurs already in Old Persian and Avestan, and has cognates in Sanskrit and Greek,
  10. Maroseika Moderator

    Russian cognate богатый (rich) is based not on the notion of бог (god), but on the original sense of the Iranian word - property, part, protion. So the rich one is who has a big part of smth.
    Cf. Polish zboże - cereals < richness.

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