1. Treaty Senior Member


    The etymonline website gives an unknown ultimate origin for "ape" while citing it was used in three IE families (Slavic, Germanic and Celtic). Another website (20kWEB, based on Skeat 1893) states a Greek κῆπος as a cognate that connects all other IE "ape"s to Sanskrit kapi. (Also, there seems to be a Hebrew kof).

    Skeat's assumption of an IE origin is unlikely, simply because PIE people never shared a habitat with apes. However, could it entered Europe after Persian conquest of Greece or Alexander's conquest of India, same as "tiger" did?
    If negative, how did Europeans encountered a non-IE language that had "ape" in its vocabulary? Please note that this language should itself be close to monkey's habitat: Spain, Cartage, Egypt?.

  2. origumi Senior Member

    Hebrew qof is taken by some as a loadword from a Dravidian language, possibly Tamil. See here for example:

    This is based on the hapax legomenon mention of qof in the Bible, along with some other exotic words that seem to originate from the Indian peninsula (ivory, peacocks, from Tarshish). See 2 Chronicles 9:21.
  3. Treaty Senior Member

    Thank you!
  4. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member


    If that was the case, then the Gr. word for the animal would have been a hellenised version of the Skt. name, which is not:
    Ape: Classical masc. noun «πίθηκος» pítʰēkŏs & in Doric «πίθᾱκος» pítʰākŏs (in MG «πίθηκος» ['piθikos]) from an hypothetical PIE root *bʰidʰ-/*bʰeidʰ-, ugly cf Latin masc. adj. fœdus, ugly, loathsome, or from PIE *dʰeu-, smoke, steam cf Skt. धूम (dhUma), smoke.
    Even in the colloquial language, ancient Greeks used the euphemism «καλλίᾱς» kăllíās & «καλλίᾱρ» kăllíār (masc.) --> "handsome" for the animal (and not some Persian/Avestan/Skt. loan word)
  5. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    May I say first of all that I do not see why anyone would quote an encyclopaedia from 1906 for matters (Indo-European and Semitic etymologies) on which so much new material has come to light in the last 113 years.

    There are four vaguely similar families of words that can be considered here.

    First, Old Indian kapi- which occurs already in the Rig Veda, borrowed into Iranian, e.g. Persian kabī < Middle Persian kabīg < Old Iranian *kapī-ka- < Indo-Aryan. The Indian word was then borrowed a second time (after the p>b sound shift) as New Persian kapī. According to the Tamil Lexicon Tamil kapī is borrowed from Sanskrit, not the other way round. In any case, the suggestion in the old JE that Hebrew borrowed the word directly from Tamil is really mind-boggling.

    Second, Egyptian gjf, gɜf, gwf, Coptic gapi, probably borrowed into Akkadian (Late Babylonian) uqūpu (occurs in contexts referring to Egypt), then (either from Akkadian or from Egyptian) Hebrew (pl.) qōfīm, Aramaic (Talmudic, Syriac, Mandaic) qūfā. Some scholars claim a borrowing from India to Egypt, some from Egypt to India, some reserve judgement.

    Third, Greek κῆβος “long-tailed monkey” is difficult to connect either to the Indian or the Egyptian families, mainly because of the voiced b.

    Fourth, the Germanic family *apan or *aban (ape, Affe etc.), and its alleged cognates in Celtic and Slavic. The supposed loss of the initial k- is very problematic indeed.

    (I have consulted the relevant entries in Mayrhofer for Sanskrit; Gesenius/Meyer/Donner for Hebrew; Brockelmann, Sokoloff, Driver/Macuch for Aramaic; AHWb and CAD for Akkadian; Beekes for Greek; all with further references.)
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  6. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    And if I may add, how is it possible for «κῆβος» to be a Skt. (or Persian) loan when there's even an Aeolic variant «κεῖπος»?
    Doesn't this presuppose a Proto-Greek root?
  7. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    How would the phonetic development from *dheu- > píthēkos have proceeded (in theory)?
  8. sotos Senior Member

    If an obscure etym. dictiοnary would propose that "πίθηκος" comes from "πηδώ" (to jump) (Iliad 14,455), I would be totally convinced.
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Even though they have only one letter (p-) in common?
  10. sotos Senior Member


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