Connections between Semitic languages and Latin or Greek

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by rogermue, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. This is a matter I'm very much interested in, but my knowledge of Arabic is only a basic one, too limited for such studies.
    I assume there must be a lot of connections, but I don't know if there is much research work done.
    So I think that raj-ul might have a connection with Latin reg- ere.

    From Universal dictionary:
    English German Arabic
    n: [​IMG] sir [​IMG] Herr سيِد [​IMG]
    n: [​IMG] overlord ; master ; lord [​IMG] Gebieter; Herr سيِد [​IMG]
    n: [​IMG] Mister ; Mr ; Mr. [​IMG] Herr سيِد [​IMG]

    from Wiktionary

    man [​IMG] Mann (m); Herr (m) رجل (m) (rájul)
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  2. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Why might they have a connection? Simply based on the fact some of the consonants are the same?

    I think the word rajul is derived from the word rijl (foot), perhaps because a man is a pedestrian or 'on foot'. Which doesn't at all match up with the PIE root reg-.
  3. It was an assumption that there might be a connection. The consonants should fit together (taking into consideration consonant change according to historical changes) and the meaning should be the same or if there is a minor difference considering usual shifts in semantic development.

    In early times (ancient Greece) there was a cultural flow from Egpyt and other countries in the Middle East into Greece. Best example is the alphabet the Greeks took from the Phoenicians. And so we can assume that a lot of semitic word came into Greek. And I would like to find traces of such words. But my knowledge of semitic languages is far too limited for such a task. So I need the help of others. Furthermore I think I could find right-left pairs.

    The Babilonian name Ishtar and the words L aster, stella (probably from *sterla), Ger Stern, E star, F étoile might be an example for a connection between
    Semitic and IE languages. See the thread 'star'.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  4. Names of numbers
    Arab. sab' - Latin sep-tem, German sieb-en, Engl. seven.
    I think there might be others too, I have not yet looked into this.
  5. The Greek names of the letters are Semitic. But that's no wonder.
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    Now you've stumbled on a genuine match. The numerals 'six' and 'seven' do look similar in Semitic and IE (but so they do in Basque, Georgian, Etruscan, and even Hurrian, which is a real puzzler), and there are a few nouns like 'horn' and 'bull' (taur-) where the resemblance is strong enough that borrowing is a real possibility.
  7. The feminin ending in Latin is -a, e.g. regin-a queen, in Greek a>ae, in Arabik malik king, malikah queen. Astonishing. But I lack knowledge to evaluate this. Is it really the system in Arabic to form femina with -a/ah?
  8. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, we had this futile discussion on here recently, and I pointed out that Arabic malika has a short a, whereas Greek ᾱ > η is a long vowel. So it is not the same thing.
  10. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Well there are indeed many borrowings both ways between the Semitic languages of the mediterranean and the IE ones. But I don't think this looks like one of them. The IE root reg- goes all the way back to proto-IE, which would tend to suggest it is not a Semitic borrowing. Generally Semitic borrowings into IE languages of Europe (like Latin & Greek) will not have cognates in for instance languages of the Indo sub group.

    This is really not as concrete a link as it might seem on the surface. The statistical probability that words with similar consonants and meanings will co-exist by chance in the world's 6000 odd various languages is pretty high. So take such similarities with a grain of salt.
  11. Theoretically a semitic word can come into an IE language at an early time and if it is an important word it can develop a word family in that IE language and it can spread to all or most of all IE languages. An IE root says only the word is common in most IE languages (in the west and the east), but this does not exclude the possibility that originally the word was a Semitic one and the possibility of right-left word formation should be considered as well.
  12. Abu Rashid said: This is really not as concrete a link as it might seem on the surface. The statistical probability that words with similar consonants and meanings will co-exist by chance in the world's 6000 odd various languages is pretty high. So take such similarities with a grain of salt.
    I don't compare languages that have nothing to do with each other. So it would be idiotic to compare 6000 languages for similar pairs. I compare languages that have a close relation with each other as Greek and Latin, and as Latin had been the principal language in western Europe for a long time its influence on German was of great importance.
    It is interesting to see that old words in IE of the west are also existing in Sanskrit. But I don't work with Sanskrit words to explain our words, because I think a direct influence of Sanskrit words is not the probable thing.

    But the relation between the Greek language and semitic languages was close and so I suppose there must be traces to be found. But I almost have the suspicion that there isn't too much study in this special field.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  13. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Yes it could have happened, and this is perhaps the case with the example given above for the word for bull/ox. But the cases of this are almost non-existent, hence the reason this one is so unique and interesting.

    I think you're mixing up writing systems with languages here. Right to left writing order has nothing at all to do with this.

    Semitic languages & southern European ones have about as much to do with one another as most of the 5950 odd other languages of the world do, speaking on the genetic level that is.

    Are you confusing borrowings with cognates here? IE languages like Latin & Sanskrit have a lot of words that are similar, because they both inherited them from a common ancestor language they both shared, not because one has direct influence on the other.

    So you seem to be putting a higher value here on borrowings than on cognates for finding "similarities" in languages? Doesn't sound very logical to me.

    Borrowings between languages that exist in close physical proximity to one another are always going to be a reality, but their influence is meagre compared to that of common genetic relationship, ie. where two languages share a relatively recent ancestor language.
  14. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Indo-Iranian and European languages are not compared because an influence of one on the other is postulated (this happened as well but that is another story) but because they are cognate language groups (urverwandte Sprachen).

    Moderator note: If you disagree with the Indo-European Hypothesis this is your right; but I am afraid this would not the right forum to discuss theories that completely contradict consensus view in historical linguistics. Please read the EHL forum rule #15 here.
  15. You misunderstand me completely. I don't disagree with the Indo-European view, I think that relation is established well enough. And the resemblance of basic nouns as father, mother and so on, in numbers, and above all in basic verbs, and in the grammar system (verb conjugation) show that there is no doubt about a relation.
    But it is a matter of time.
    When do you think we had a population that spoke a common Proto-Indo-European. I don't know exact estimates, but I would say around 2000 minus or perhaps 3000 minus as a rough guess.
    At a certain point the Greeks, Romans and the Indoeuropean population in India were settled in Greece, Italy and India. I would take as a rough date 1000 minus.
    And after that time a direct influence between Sankrit and Greek or Latin is not very probable

    PS By the way it isn't necessary to explain to me what IE languages are. I did a lot of IE studies and even Sanskrit studies when I was younger. Today I'm not so sure as you in consonant changes from PIE roots to Greek or Latin, then the consonant changes towards Germanic languages and then towards Old High German. Because this is a field that is not my main interest. And in this area I have sometimes to look up things I have forgotten.
    But normally I don't work with IE roots, I prefer the Latin and Greek words, that is much simpler.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  16. AnNafs New Member

    Tunisia - Arabic & French
    I also noticed some parallels between Semitic and Indo-European languages (especially Greek and Latin). These are languages spoken around the Mediterranean so I do think it is possible that they have a common origin. But apparently it is a polarizing subject.

    Indo-Semitic languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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