Etymology: Eyes in Slavic languages - borrowed from Latin?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Outsider, May 31, 2006.

  1. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Moderator edit: I abused this post by Outsider. It now contains all relevant information copied from another thread that could not be split without being destroyed. I hope it is not too confusing. Chronological order has been preserved. Thanks for your understanding. :)

  2. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    If you were to compare which individual language is oldest, Latin would without a doubt win. Keeping this in mind, I could say that occulus is the original word that ochi derives from. Ask any specialist who works in this field. Slavic languages have most probably done the same as the other Latin languages, in other words borrowed it!
  3. werrr Senior Member

    Without a doubt? No!!!
    Maybe Latin is older than any known Slavic language but there is no evidence that Latin is older than family of Slavic languages.

    That's wrong argumentation. By using this you can state that all Indoeuropean languages are derived from Latin.

    And btw, how do you explain that this Pan-Slavic word was used before all Slavs come in contact with Latin culture?
  4. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    The Proto-slavic language (which is the mother of all slavonic languages) started breaking up into smaller languages appr. during the 7th century A.D. It was during this time that "real" slavic languages emerged. Latin dates back to the 8th century B.C, and was spoken thorughout the Dark Ages.

    And I would like to question your statement that ochi was a panslavic word used before any contact with Latin countries. What sources confirm this?? Last but not least, I never stated that all Indoeuropean languages derive from Latin, but you must agree that Latin has had a huge influence on all Indoeuropean languages!
  5. werrr Senior Member

    Do you think that Proto-Slavic language arised from "nothing" or is fully derived from Latin?
    No, there is no evidence that Latin is older than Slavic languages (that Latin words are older than Slavic words).

    That is'nt only about "ochi". That's about big part of BASIC vocabulary and grammar. It is very unusual to replace the most frequented words with loanwords, is'nt?

    I didn't said you said it. I attacked only your line of reasoning.
    Yes, Latin has big influence on all modern languages but, usualy, basic vocabulary is minimally affected.
  6. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    It is ridiculous to say slavic languages borrowed the word for "eye" from latin. They had eyes even before they first met Romans! All indoeuropean languages have approx. the same word for "eye", wether they are Germanic, Slavic, Italic or Arian.
    There is no need for sources to confirm that it was used before contact with Romans - because there was no need to adopt a new word for something they already had. This word was/is used even by slavic people who had no contact to Romans.

    Indeed, wether it's Sanskrit, Tajik, Persian or Gaellic, all have taken the Roman word for "eye". They, just like you Robbie, knew that Italic languages are faaar superior and made this vital decission. No, wait, they didn't even know how to speak - Romans taught them.

    EDIT:Robbie, what's the Romanian singular form of "Eye"?
  7. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    I've started a topic on "eye" in all indoeuropean languages here:

    let me quote vince from there:
    and whodunit:
  8. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Sorry if the tone of this thread has become a bit "hostile".

    To answer your question übermönch, the singular form of the Romanian word for eye is:

    un ochi = an eye
    mai multi ochii = many eyes

    or even an older way of saying it is ochiuri (never used it myself).

    I'm not saying that the Proto-slavic language didn't have a word for "eye". It could very well be so, that an ancient Indoeuropean language has founded this word and exists in most European languages today. But my etymology dictionary in the Romanian language, tells me that the word "ochi" derives from the Latin oculus.

    This brings me to ask another question: what is the Slavic word (Serbian, Czech, Polish, Bulgarian etc.) for eyeglasses??

  9. pjay Member

    German Germany
    Well there is a way to answer these questions scientifically, but without looking into the specifics of sound shifts and morphological changes it is hard to tell whether a word was borrowed from another language (i.e. latin) or derived from some underlying proto-language (i.e. Indoeuropean).

    In the case of Romanian we can safely assume that we are dealing with a latin root (and to some lesser extent a slavic adstratum). In the case of Russian I would assume an Indoeuropean root, but that is guesswork.

    There seems to be some confusion about chronology. Latin is older than any other currently spoken slavic language. But that's only because Latin is no longer in use. The earliest records for slavic languages are written in old Bulgarian, and are not nearly as old as latin. BUT that certainly doesn't mean that slavic languages derive from latin. It just means that we don't have any written records that go any further back in history. Russian does not derive from latin, just as German or Lithuanian don't derive from Latin. Latin has just had much linguistic influence on neighbouring speech communities, which is what linguists call an adstratum.
  10. werrr Senior Member

    Hi Robbie

    No, it wasn't hostile, that was vital disputation ;).

    I agree that Romanian "ochi" is of Latin (or Romanic ?) origin. I only defended non-Romanic origin of Slavic equivalent.

    Czech word for eyeglasses is "brýle". You understand German - so, for you is no problem to reveal the origin of this word, correct:)?
  11. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

  12. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Hi Werrr,

    I do understand the origin of the word "brýle". :) The reason for me asking is because I wanted to see if there was any connection between the word for "eye" and "eyeglasses". If the word actually did exist independent from other languages from the start, ""eyeglasses" would in that case be linked to eyes. Ex:

    ochi = eye
    ochelari = eyeglasses

    oeil = eye
    monocle/lunettes = eyeglasses

    occhio = eye
    oculare = eyeglasses

    ojo = eye
    anteojos/gafas = eyeglasses

    olho = eye
    óculos = eyeglasses

    I would like to know if similar tendecies can be seen in Slavic languages?
  13. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    "Eye" in slavic languages:

    Church slavonic, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian: Oko. Does that fit for all other slavic languages?

    Russian also has glaz, which is more common, what about the others?

    Here are different old indoeuropean languages:
    Latin: oculus

    Classical Greek: ofthalmós
    Sanskrit: akshi, chakshu, netra
    Persian: Cheshm

    Old Irish: Enech

    Old High German: ouga
    Gothic: aug
    Old English: Eage
    Old Norse & Icelandic: Auga

    Germanic seem to be close to the slavic & italic word. Theoretically they both could have borrowed the word from the Romans and passed it Old slavs (which probably originate from western Ukraine/eastern Poland), that's however questionable.

    Russian form's "Ochki", probably an archaic diminutative form of "eyes". The russian plural form of Oko, eye, is Ochi, just like the Romanian singular.

    what are the other slavic plural forms?
  14. werrr Senior Member

    only loanwords are used for "eyeglasses" in Slavic languages I know (Czech/Slovak/Polish...brýle/okuliare/okulary; Slovak and Polish words are from Latin or Italian).

    you can add Slovak to your list of Slavic languages using "oko".

    In Czech we have two different plural forms of "oko" with different usage. Regular plural is "oka" and another plural originated in dual number is "oči".
  15. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Thank you Werr :) , I appreciate it a lot.

    The reason why I asked, is because languages that have a word from the beginning (e.g. "eye") tend to create all the other words that have to do with the original word from it.


    ögon (eye) = glassögon (eyeglasses)

    eye = eyeglasses

    The South Germanic languages tend to use a form of "Brille", but it derives from another word instead of "Augen".

    If the word "ochi" existed before the Romans, the logical word for eyeglasses would have come from the word for "eye". This is though apparently missing in most Slavic languages.
  16. cyanista

    cyanista законодательница мод

    Robbie, your argument doesn't sound that convincing to me. I don't think there is a connection. A new subject that was brought from afar would very often bring its name with it. I suppose that was what happened in Slovak and Polish - and in Belarusian as well.
    Eyes - вочы (vochy).
    Eyeglasses - акуляры (akuljary).
  17. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    @robbie, indeed, the high german word derrives from Beryl, the middle high German word for "rock crystall". And, well, even if it was derrived - in all the slavic languages where it's okkul*- from their, originally latin, word it would be strange if they suddently remembered the correct root once glasse where brought to europe. Words like monocle or binocle also are derrived from the latin word for "eye".

    EDIT: I correct myself, the russian Ochki, the word for glasses, is actually the plural of ochko, Russian for ring(?) or point.
  18. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English

    I didn’t know that the word Brille derives from the Beryl, but it actually makes sence :) . But I still firmly believe that there is something missing. Is there really nobody out there who thinks that my way of approaching this matter seems reasonable?

    Übermönch's explanation only intensifies my assumption that "ochi" actually does come from Latin.
  19. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Nicely put Outsider, even if you took it away :) .

    It seems that the word "ochi" does derive from an archaic form of a word from an ancient Indo-European language. The "ochi" in Romanian is not a loanword from its Slavic neighbours, but a word that has come from Latin languages.

  20. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member

  21. Nineu Member

    Euskal Herria / Basque Country
    Another non-IE word for eye for comparison:
    In Basque: Begi
  22. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    In Serbian:
    eye - oko (око)
    eyes - oči (очи)
    the pair of eyes - par očiju (пар очију)
    eyeglasses - naočare (наочаре) f. pl.
  23. cajzl Senior Member

    naočare or naočale?
  24. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    I think that Croats say naočale.
  25. cajzl Senior Member

    I remember that one guy from Prijedor who worked in our company used to say naočale.


    In Proto-Slavic the word oko was the s-stem word:

    Sing. N. oko G. očese D. očesi ...
    Dual N. očesě ...
    Plur. N. očesa ...

    Similarly: slovo (gen. slovese), kolo (kolese), nebo (nebese), tělo (tělese), uxo (ušese), etc.

    It seems that the stem očes- (and ušes-) is lost in the modern Slavic languages (unlike the stems sloves-, koles-, těles-, nebes-).
  26. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    Sorry if that is off-topic, but what's the swedish word for glass eyes?
  27. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Actually I have been waiting for such a question! :)

    In Swedish we say "porslinsöga(-on)", meaning an eye made of porslin. But you can also say "ett öga av glas".

    Hope this cleared things up! :D
  28. Aldin Member

    In BHS(Bosnian,Croatian,Serbian) eyeglasses=naočale
  29. ServusEtSclavus New Member

    Serbia, Serbian, Montenegrin
    Serbian/Croat/Bosnian/Montenegrin/Herzegovinian word for eyeglasses is naočari, meaning roughly "a thing that one puts onto one's eyes", but I don't see what difference does it make?!?!?

    and yes, in Croat variant of the language more common form is naočale, with the same meaning. In Dalmatia and some parts of Montenegrin coast, common word for eyeglasses is oćali (I remember my grandma saying so), obviously translitterated Italian "occhiali"
  30. JGreco Senior Member

    Citizen of the World
    Native of: English, Portuguese (oral) , and Spanish (oral)
    ojo = eye
    anteojos/gafas = eyeglasses

    Ummm... I thought "eyeglasses in Spanish was "lentes". I have never heard anybody say "anteojos". I might have heard "gafas" once but no more than that.:confused:
  31. OBrasilo

    OBrasilo Senior Member

    Koper, Slovenia, Central Europe
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    In Slovenian, eye is oko (dual očesi, plural oči). And the -s in inflections is still present in some cases, eye-glasses are either očala or naočniki, but the latter is archaic.

    In Italian, eye is occhio (plural occhi), and eye-glasses are occhiali. ;)
  32. OldAvatar Senior Member

    A little correction. Both singular and plural forms are identical: ochi. Only the articulated forms are different: the eye = ochiul; the eyes = ochii.
  33. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Just wondering: anyone who knows why the Latin has a diminutive form (as -ulus is a diminutive, as far as I know) ? What would/could the 'big eye' have been ?
  34. Lugubert Senior Member

    It's much more complicated.

    "At the end of the eighteenth century several chemists were interested in the chemical composition of emerald and beryl, two very similar gems.

    The beryl mineral was named beryllia, after Βηρυλλος [bèryllos], Greek for beryl."

    Also, "The name of this mineral, from the Persian belur, Latin beryllus, ..."

    and "The name Beryl is from the Ancient Greek “Beryllos” for the precious blue-green color of sea water. This was originally applied to all green gemstones, but later used only for Beryl. Some scholars believe the world Beryl is related to the ancient trading city of Belur or perhaps come from the world pearl known as “Velurya” in old Hindi and “Vaidurya” in Sanskrit."

    (Indian Belur, in Hassan district (222 kms from Bangalore and 38 kms from Hassan), is also famous for its magnificent Hoysala Temple Complex.)
  35. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    The s-stem of the Slavic oko eliminates the hypothesis "Slavic oko - a word borrowed from Latin".

    In concern with the Romanian ochi, the latter may come either from Latin oculus or from Slavic ochi. In my opinion, the form ochiuri gives support to the Slavic version.
  36. OldAvatar Senior Member

    Possible. But the pronunciation of Romanian ochi is similar with Italian occhi and it is not like in Slavic languages. More than that, the articulated form is identical when it comes to pronunciation (ochii).
  37. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    The plural form of "ochi" (m.) is "ochii" (like OldAvatar kindely pointed out). In my opinion, this proves that the Romanian word is derived from Latin.

    :) robbie
  38. dave55 New Member

    English - England
    It is incorrect to say that the Russian word transliterated ochi 'comes from' Latin oculi. Rather, Russian and Latin have a common origin in Proto-Indo-European, so there was almost certainly a word in PIE from which both ochi and oculi have come.

    There are a number of other instances where Latin and Russian clearly demonstrate their common origin, as in the following two sentences that I have concocted:

    Latin: Fur videt novam domum. Mater sedet tres noctes.
    Russian: Vor vidit novy dom. Mat' sidit tri nochi.
    English: The thief sees the new house. The mother sits for three nights.

    The words italicised in the English translation are of course also cognate with their Latin and Russian counterparts, but not nearly as obviously.


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