All Slavic: laska

Teukor

Member
Slovak
Mod note: Thread split from here

When I was a teenager in 80s, the word "laska" referred to an extraordinary attractive young woman, while some 20 years later its meaning was closer to 'just a woman' - and there are some nuances depending on whether the word is used by a man or by a woman.
Funny, in Slovak láska means miłość. Is the etymology of Pol. laska somehow related to love?
 
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  • marco_2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Funny, in Slovak láska means miłość. Is the etymology of Pol. laska somehow related to love?

    Not exactly: In Polish laska is a stick, so someone probably associated it with a slim, graceful woman.

    But:

    Polish: łaska = Slovak: milost'
    Polish: miłość = Slovak: láska :)
     

    Teukor

    Member
    Slovak
    Not exactly: In Polish laska is a stick, so someone probably associated it with a slim, graceful woman.

    But:

    Polish: łaska = Slovak: milost'
    Polish: miłość = Slovak: láska :)
    :) I did not know about the stick. In Slovak we use the word 'kosť' (slang) Pol. kość for a slim woman. Otherwise I love semantic shifts between Slovak and Polish.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Funny, in Slovak láska means miłość. Is the etymology of Pol. laska somehow related to love?

    According to the etymological dictionary by Boryś, Polish laska (=walking stick; stick, cane, rod) originally meant 'bough of a hazelnut tree' and therefore is related with the Polish word for hazelnut tree, leszczyna (Russian лещина, Czech líska if I'm not mistaken). Old Polish had leska for the tree, and leszczyna rather meant 'hazelnut tree thicket', but leska has since disappeared from the language. As to the etymology of leska/leszczyna , Boryś mentions it may be derived from las (=forest) but it's not at all an established fact.
     

    Teukor

    Member
    Slovak
    According to the etymological dictionary by Boryś, Polish laska (=walking stick; stick, cane, rod) originally meant 'bough of a hazelnut tree' and therefore is related with the Polish word for hazelnut tree, leszczyna (Russian лещина, Czech líska if I'm not mistaken). Old Polish had leska for the tree, and leszczyna rather meant 'hazelnut tree thicket', but leska has since disappeared from the language. As to the etymology of leska/leszczyna , Boryś mentions it may be derived from las (=forest) but it's not at all an established fact.
    I see. It corresponds with Slovak lieska. All the mentioned words descended from Proto-Slavic *lěska.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Concerning the colloquial and somewhat derogatory Polish word laska in the meaning 'attractive girl' its etymology seems to be unestablished; there is a discussion on the PWN Podadnia Jęykowa laska - Poradnia językowa PWN . In short:
    1) The first recorded use of the word is from 1990, and it would seem to have come into use no earlier than circa 1970 (although the reasoning leading to the second date does not seem convincing to me).
    2) It might be related to the word `laszka' which, it seems, was used by (AFAIU) Lithuanians to refer to Polish women; a reference is given to the Mickiewicz Ballad `Trzech Budrysów' (=Three Lithuanians) from 1827 in which feminine virtues of `laszki' (=Polish women) are extolled (best lovers, cheerful as kittens, faces as white as milk, eyes as stars etc.).
    Perhaps, but it's just a guess, this word laszka is derived from the name Leszek, diminutive of Lech, the legendary founder of Poland (compare with the adjective Lechitic or the adjective 'lengyel' meaning `Polish' in Hungarian ). What happened to laszka in the period 1827-1991, and how sz turned into s, is anyone's guess :)
    3) The word 'laska' might have come from а misunderstanding of the Czech word láska, with which Poles came into contact through Czech TV programmes and songs. Someone indicated specifically that the 1973 song `Ach, ta láska nebeská' by Eva Pilarová and Waldemar Matuška, apparently very popular at the time in Poland, was responsible for introducing the word.
    4) Hazelnut boughs are slender and flexible, which are desirable feminine attributes, so the stick might have come to be used to indicate a woman with those characteristics.

    Option 3) seems the most plausible to me, followed by 4).
     
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    marco_2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    1) The first recorded use of the word is from 1990, and it would seem to have come into use no earlier than circa 1970 (although the reasoning leading to the second date does not seem convincing to me). Of course not: in the 1970s the word 'laska' in Polish youth slang meant 'penis' and never 'girl' - you can trust me, because I was a high-school student then. This new meaning must have appeared circa 1990 or a bit earlier, but not before 1985 for sure.
    2) It might be related to the word `laszka' which, it seems, was used by (AFAIU) Lithuanians to refer to Polish women; a reference is given to the Mickiewicz Ballad `Trzech Budrysów' (=Three Lithuanians) from 1827 in which feminine virtues of `laszki' (=Polish women) are extolled (best lovers, cheerful as kittens, faces as white as milk, eyes as stars etc.). I don't think that young people would have related to so remote and literary associations, it must have been simpler and not so sophisticated. By the way, the words Lach - Laszka come from East Slavic languages (in the Great Duchy of Lithuania Ruthenian language was used) and, according to most of Slavists, come from the word 'lechy', 'ledy' which meant 'fields' - hence Lędzianie - a West Slavic tribe bordering with its Eastern neighbours (the same was for Hungarian Lengyel or Lithuanian Lenkas). The words Lach - Laszka eventually became offensive for the Poles.
    Perhaps, but it's just a guess, this word laszka is derived from the name Leszek, diminutive of Lech, the legendary founder of Poland (compare with the adjective Lechitic or the adjective 'lengyel' meaning `Polish' in Hungarian ). What happened to laszka in the period 1827-1991, and how sz turned into s, is anyone's guess :)
    3) The word 'laska' might have come а misunderstanding of the Czech word láska, with which Poles came into contact through Czech TV programs and songs. Someone indicated specifically that the 1973 song `Ach, ta láska nebeská' by Eva Pilarová and Waldemar Matuška, apparently very popular at the time in Poland, was responsible for introducing the word.
    4) Hazelnut boughs are slender and flexible, which are desirable feminine attributes, so the stick might have come to be used to indicate a woman with those characteristics.

    Option 3) seems the most plausible to me, followed by 4). To me as well :)
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Someone indicated specifically that the 1973 song `Ach, ta láska nebeská' by Eva Pilarová and Waldemar Matuška, apparently very popular at the time in Poland, was responsible for introducing the word.

    That song is from 1961, not from 1973.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In Russian, ласка (IPA ['ɫaskə]) is caress, endearment (pl. ласки - petting, contrectations); a weasel (cf. Pol. ɫasica). But I suppose that a recent poorly motivated loanword from Russian is not very likely.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    That song [Ach, ta láska nebeská] is from 1961, not from 1973.

    Ah. That pushes the original version of this song a bit too far back in time. I found an interesting hint in a 2013 radio interview with the Polish singer Maryla Rodowicz. In 1978 she sang at the Intervision Song Contest in Sopot in duet with Helena Vondráčkova a Polish adaptation of `Ach, ta láska nebeská'. They report:
    "Ach, ta laska nebeska", a to był tytuł piosenki. Spolszczyło się, że laska ma u nas podwójne znaczenie, to była gra słów. Nie pamiętam tego tekstu po latach. Miało być dowcipne i ironiczne - powiedział [Jan] Pietrzak. Laska nebeska, to po czesku niebiańska miłość. Ostatecznie Maryla Rodowicz zaśpiewała piosenkę z Heleną Vondráčkovą. Wyszła na scenę z pomalowaną na niebiesko laską. Jak zapewnia, bawiły się świetnie.

    The double entendre for `laska' in Polish they are referring to is here `penis', not 'girl'; perhaps this particular occasion (no doubt televised all over the country at the time) played a role in stimulating the new slang meaning. It's just a hypothesis, but it doesn't seem too far-fetched. On youtube one can find a 2006 Rodowicz appearance on Czech TV in which she sings a song (in Polish) with Vondráčkova containing the word laska and holding a blue-coloured walking stick; I don't know whether this is the same as the 1978 version (I'd say no, from the music, but I didn't listen carefully... there's only so much Rodowicz I can take in a given day).
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In Russian, ласка (IPA ['ɫaskə]) is caress, endearment (pl. ласки - petting, contrectations); a weasel (cf. Pol. ɫasica). But I suppose that a recent poorly motivated loanword from Russian is not very likely.

    I think that's unrelated... Russian ласка is, I guess, derived from ласкать, to caress / fondle, which is related to Polish głaskać (to caress/ to pet) or łaskotać (to tickle). I haven't checked the etymologies but they seem very likely.
    I noticed Russian has леса/леска meaning 'fishing line', I was wondering if it's related to (or derived from) лещина, which would make it a `cousin' of Polish laska. However it seems more likely to me that these words are related to Italian lenza (=fishing line), which is related to 'line', from Latin līnĕa (linen rope or thread), ultimately from Latin līnum `linen' (Russian лён and Polish len evolved independently of Latin from a common Indoeuropean root according to `l'ETIMOLOGICO - Vocabolario della lingua italiana di Alberto Nocentini').
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian ласка is, I guess, derived from ласкать
    In its first meaning - yes. I just believe that comparing a girl to a weasel (which is somewhat reinforced by the aforementioned homonym) is more expected than comparing her to a... stick. Although a loanword from Czech is certanly more likely here.
    I noticed Russian has леса/леска meaning 'fishing line', I was wondering if it's related to (or derived from) лещина
    Possibly, even though Vasmer wasn't entirely sure.
     

    Ukigirl

    New Member
    Ukrainian, American English
    In Ukrainian “Laska” «ласка» means grace. However if you say “будь ласка» “byd’ laska” it means “please” .
     
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