Greek / Etruscan: water

Ben Jamin

Senior Member
Polish
In Modern Greek water is neró. I have recently learned that it was neri in Etruscan. The Clasical Greek had the word hydor ('ydor) for water. Does it mean that nero is an Etruscan loan in Greek? It would be strange, as the Etruscans were great importers of Greek culture, but not vice versa.
 
  • In Modern Greek water is neró. I have recently learned that it was neri in Etruscan. The Clasical Greek had the word hydor ('ydor) for water. Does it mean that nero is an Etruscan loan in Greek? It would be strange, as the Etruscans were great importers of Greek culture, but not vice versa.
    No it does not. «Νερό» is the colloquial name for water since the Byzantine times. It derives from the adjective «νεαρόν» (nea'ron n.-->young, fresh), which in medieval times, prevailed over the noun, and the adjective turned into noun. In the streets of Byzantine cities during summertime, the water-carrier (the man who carried water in waterskin), used to shout to attract attention: "Ὕδωρ νεαρόν!" (Fresh Water!). In time, τὸ νεαρόν ὕδωρ-->τὸ νεαρόν-->τὸ νερόν-->το νερό (Modern Greek). Something similar has happened with bread too. While its formal name is «ἄρτος» ('artos masculine noun), its colloquial name is «ψωμί» (pso'mi neuter noun). It derives from the Hellenistic Greek «ψωμίον» (psō'mīŏn n.) diminutive of the classical «ψωμός» (psō'mŏs m.)-->morsel, bit. It was so common to eat a "morsel of bread" when hungry (ψωμός ἄρτου) that within time, morsel replaced bread in everyday speech.

    PS: Adj. «νεαρός, νεαρή, νεαρό» (nea'ros m., nea'ri f., nea'ro n.) in modern Greek has solely the meaning of young, youngster, it has lost the secondary meaning of fresh.
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    No it does not. «Νερό» is the colloquial name for water since the Byzantine times. It derives from the adjective «νεαρόν» (nea'ron n.-->young, fresh), which in medieval times, prevailed over the noun, and the adjective turned into noun. In the streets of Byzantine cities during summertime, the water-carrier (the man who carried water in waterskin), used to shout to attract attention: "Ὕδωρ νεαρόν!" (Fresh Water!). In time, τὸ νεαρόν ὕδωρ-->τὸ νεαρόν-->τὸ νερόν-->το νερό (Modern Greek). Something similar has happened with bread too. While its formal name is «ἄρτος» ('artos masculine noun), its colloquial name is «ψωμί» (pso'mi neuter noun). It derives from the Hellenistic Greek «ψωμίον» (psō'mīŏn n.) diminutive of the classical «ψωμός» (psō'mŏs m.)-->morsel, bit. It was so common to eat a "morsel of bread" when hungry (ψωμός ἄρτου) that within time, morsel replaced bread in everyday speech.

    PS: Adj. «νεαρός, νεαρή, νεαρό» (nea'ros m., nea'ri f., nea'ro n.) in modern Greek has solely the meaning of young, youngster, it has lost the secondary meaning of fresh.

    Thank you! It is very interesting.
    How will you explain the similarity with the Etruscan word then? It is even more mysterious after your explanation. A sheer conicidence? Or is the Greek neró many centuries older? (I assume that in the Byzantine times Etruscan was extinct.)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It doesn't really need explanation. Chance coincidences are much more likely that many people think. If you take a pair of languages and take one word and look for a similarity in the other language, the probability of a chance coincidence is small (lets call it p). If you aren't limited to a single word the probability is 1-(1-p)^n to find at least one chance coincidence where n is is the number of words in the language. If n is sufficiently large, 1-(1-p)^n ~ 1, even if p is very small.

    In freshman courses in statistics, the professors regularly surprise students when they bet (and win) that there are at least two people in the course who have the same birthday. It is exactly the same statistical phenomenon.
     

    artion

    Senior Member
    Greek
    If I have the right to propose my theory, nero (in rural areas pronounced "niro", which is important) is more ancient than hydor. It is related to the deity of Nereus (Νηρεύς, pronounced Nirefs, a Sea-god son of Pontos (which also means sea), Hesiodus) and her daughters Nereides, spirits of the waters. The word nero was never completely abandoned in Greece, as the Nereides survived in the folk myths as "Neraides" (νεράιδες, pronounced niraides), fairy-like spirits associated with springs, lakes and streams. (http://www.wordreference.com/gren/%CE%BD%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%B9%CE%B4%CE%B1)
    So, rural people pronounce nero and neraides exactly as we assume the ancient pronounciation of Nereus and Nereides.
    The origin from "nearon" (fresh) sounds unlikely if you know the Greek geography. A good proportion of the population lived on or near mountainous areas, surrounded by springs and were unlikely to buy water fresher than the available for free.
     
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    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    But "Nereides" comes from "Nereus", their father, whose name comes, in all probability, from the IE root *nāu-, the same root that gave us "ναῦς".
     
    Artion, your way of seeing things is always interesting :)
    However it's more plausible that in rural places «νερό» (ne'ro) is pronounced «νιρό» (ni'ro) after the synaeresis of «-εα-» into «-η-» (from «νεαρόν»-->«νηρόν» which is a more poetic expression of the adjective) and the following iotacization of «η». The form «νηρόν» exists since the 4th c. BCE (appears in a philosopher Xenocrates' work), and gives the poetic adjective «ἡμίνηρον» (hē'mīnērŏn)-->semi-fresh/half-fresh in Hellenistic times
     

    artion

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Artion, your way of seeing things is always interesting :)
    However it's more plausible that in rural places «νερό» (ne'ro) is pronounced «νιρό» (ni'ro) after the synaeresis of «-εα-» into «-η-» (from «νεαρόν»-->«νηρόν» which is a more poetic expression of the adjective) and the following iotacization of «η». The form «νηρόν» exists since the 4th c. BCE (appears in a philosopher Xenocrates' work), and gives the poetic adjective «ἡμίνηρον» (hē'mīnērŏn)-->semi-fresh/half-fresh in Hellenistic times

    But Nereus is also spelled with η. However we cannot exclude a kind of synekdoche (or subconscious relation, for those of us who believe in Freud) between nearo (new) and nero (water). Instead of a lecture I will just remind you the concepts of birth out of water, the renewal/regeneration with the baptism, the birth out of the amnial fluid etc, which according to Karl Jung explain the universality of the Flood Myths. In other words the water exists as a Jungean Archetype in the common subconscious and gives birth to many phenomena, including languistic ones.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The discussion has become very interesting, but the point is: is it plausible that the Etruscan neri might have come from Greek. Note: it must have happened not later than before the Roman conquest of Etruria ca. 400 BC. Note: we assume that the Etruscans were fascinated with the Greek culture and swallowed it voraciously, not vice versa.
     

    artion

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Artion, your way of seeing things is always interesting :)
    However it's more plausible that in rural places «νερό» (ne'ro) is pronounced «νιρό» (ni'ro) after the synaeresis of «-εα-» into «-η-» (from «νεαρόν»-->«νηρόν» which is a more poetic expression of the adjective) and the following iotacization of «η». The form «νηρόν» exists since the 4th c. BCE (appears in a philosopher Xenocrates' work), and gives the poetic adjective «ἡμίνηρον» (hē'mīnērŏn)-->semi-fresh/half-fresh in Hellenistic times

    Thanks for that. I managed to go at least a century beyond Xenocrates and I found the word naros with the meaning of fluid, wet:

    νᾱρός (νάω), fließend; Δίρκη, Aesch. frg. 426; Soph. frg. 560; VLL. erkl. ὑγρός; nach Phryn., der für νηρὸν ὕδωρ vielmehr πρόσφατον zu sagen räth, ist ναρός od. νηρός = νεαρός, frisch.
    http://de.academic.ru/dic.nsf/greek2deu/62851/νᾱρός

    So, it seems that naro or nero with the sense of water, wet, liquid etc existed since ancient times and is not byzantine or new Gr. The association with nearos (new) is either coincidental or came later, certainly not through the sale of fresh water.

    Some dictionaries explain or associate the Gr. naros with the nose, through the latin nares and nesus (nose) and the Gr. ριν (nose).
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33197/33197-h/33197-h.htm

    But they avoid to explain the links between nose and fluids :)

    In my previous post I alluded a relation with Nereus, the god of sea. Poseidon was also the god of the sea and had a son named (guess what) ... Neleus.
    Did anybody else think of the river-god Nile (Neilos in Gr., pronounced nilos), the main source of fresh water in Egypt?
     
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    <Moderator note: Reply to moved thread moved here>

    Thanks for that. I managed to go at least a century beyond Xenocrates and I found the word naros with the meaning of fluid, wet:

    νᾱρός (νάω), fließend; Δίρκη, Aesch. frg. 426; Soph. frg. 560; VLL. erkl. ὑγρός; nach Phryn., der für νηρὸν ὕδωρ vielmehr πρόσφατον zu sagen räth, ist ναρός od. νηρός = νεαρός, frisch.
    http://de.academic.ru/dic.nsf/greek2deu/62851/%CE%BD%E1%BE%B1%CF%81%CF%8C%CF%82

    So, it seems that naro or nero with the sense of water, wet, liquid etc existed since ancient times and is not byzantine or new Gr. The association with nearos (new) is either coincidental or came later, certainly not through the sale of fresh water.

    Some dictionaries explain or associate the Gr. naros with the nose, through the latin nares and nesus (nose) and the Gr. ριν (nose).
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33197/33197-h/33197-h.htm

    But they avoid to explain the links between nose and fluids :)

    In my previous post I alluded a relation with Nereus, the god of sea. Poseidon was also the god of the sea and had a son named (guess what) ... Neleus.
    Did anybody else think of the river-god Nile (Neilos in Gr., pronounced nilos), the main source of fresh water in Egypt?
    artion, I do not have the knowledge to accept or reject your theory. All I can say is that your methodology is very interesting and...unusual
     
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    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you take a pair of languages and take one word and look for a similarity in the other language, the probability of a chance coincidence is small (lets call it p). If you aren't limited to a single word the probability is 1-(1-p)^n to find at least one chance coincidence where n is is the number of words in the language. If n is sufficiently large, 1-(1-p)^n ~ 1, even if p is very small.

    It is possible that I will understand that if someone explains what ^ and ~ mean.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    ^ = to the power of. 1 – p for one coincidence, square it to give (1 – p)^2 for two coincidences, and so on.

    ~ = approximates to, approaches. The probability approaches certainty for large enough n, despite the smallness of p.
     
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