Discussion in 'All Languages' started by SuperXW, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    In English, the word "swear" has two meanings: 1) promise; 2) use insulting language.
    So "he swears" may mean two totally different things...

    In your language, is there such a word for "swear" for both meanings?
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Not in Greek:

    Swear (promise): «Ορκίζομαι» [or'cizome] < Classical Gr. verb «ὁρκίζομαι» hŏrkízŏmai --> to swear, take oath < Classical Greek masculine noun «ὅρκος» hórkŏs --> swear, oath (with obscure etymology, possibly pre-Greek).

    Swear (insult):
    1/ «Βρίζω» ['vrizo] < Classical Gr. v. «ὑβρίζω» hŭbrízō --> to offence, abuse, insult (with no certain etymological explanation). Swear (noun): «Βρισιά» [vrisi'a] (fem.) < Byz. Gr. fem. noun «ὑβρισία» ybrisía < Classical Gr. fem. 3rd declension noun «ὕβρις» húbrīs --> hubris/hybris.

    2/ From the Classical Greek verb «βλασφημέω/βλασφημῶ» blăspʰēméō (uncontracted) / blăspʰēmô (contracted) --> to speak profanely, slander (with unknown etymology), two Modern Greek verbs derive: i) «Βλαστημώ» [vlasti'mo] and colloquially «βλαστημάω» [vlasti'ma.o] --> to swear, insult, use profane language; ii) «Bλασφημώ» [vlasfi'mo] --> to blaspheme. Swear (noun): «Βλαστήμια» [vla'stimɲa] (fem.). «Βλασφημία» [vlasfi'mi.a] (fem.) is the blasphemy.
  3. learnerr Senior Member

    Partly true in Russian. Promising is "клясться", "давать клятву" in Russian; the first is an intransitive (because reflexive, notice the "ся" in the end) verb, the second is a combination of the verb "давать" (to give) and the noun "клятва" in the accusative case; these do not mean neither insulting, nor bad or dirty speech. You can "swear"/condemn something or somebody, that is, only transitively ("клясть судьбу" ["swear one's fate"], "проклинать неудачи" ["swear one's misfortune"], for example), but this is elevated, very much unlike the most vulgar situations of swearing. The words, as you notice, are not identical, but they share the same root. The non-elevated and intransitive verb to translate the English "to swear" in the "insulting" sense is "ругаться", which is rather simple in structure (contains only the most usual for reflexive verbs affixes), and means, roughly, "to talk badly".
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  4. ilocas2 Senior Member


    swear (promise) - přísahat

    swear (insult) - nadávat
  5. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog there are 2 levels of Swear. 1.) Pangako (promise)= from pang + Ako (it is me who say it) and 2.) Panata' ( communicating with Diety)= from Pan + Ata(atang) meaning it is me who take the responsibility. I cannot see that this word become insulting in a first glance unless what you say is different with what you intend to do.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  6. ancalimon Senior Member

    In Turkish they seem to be related.

    söy(le) : say
    say(la) : to commemorate, to speak highly of.
    söz: word, swear, promise
    söv: swear, curse
  7. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: not at all.

    Firm promise: (beloven, promise -->) zweren [etymologically linked with swear of course]
    Swear, curse: vloeken [no parallel with modern English, I believe - originally 'to beat']
  8. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    [I vaguely remember an old thread on this tpoic...]

    I think the Russian structure could be a calque from French, where jurer means both "to swear/promise" and "to swear/curse".
  9. kirahvi Senior Member

    No connection in Finnish:

    to swear (promise): vannoa
    to swear (curse) : kirota
  10. Maroseika Moderator

    According to Vasmer, клясться - 'to promise' is from клясть себя - 'to swear oneself' (чтоб я сдох), cf. Cross my heart and hope to die!
  11. biala Member

    In modern Hebrew the difference is very clear:
    braḥa - ברכה - a blessing; Levareḥ - לברך - to bless
    klala - קללה - a curse; Lekalel - לקלל - to curse
    havtaḥa - הבטחה - a promise; Lehavtiaḥ - להבטיח - to promise.

    However in the biblical language the root ב-ר-כ - bless - is sometimes used to indicate the opposite - cursing. Literally it is still a blessing, but the context make it clear that it means the opposite. For example the book of Yiov (Job) 1, 5, Yiov is afraid that his children "Beirḥu" ("blessed", but in the meaning of "cursed") God in their hearts.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  12. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    For the first definition, "to take an oath" would be better than "promise." Many languages have different words for "oath" and "promise." In addition, "swear" is a verb. Some of the translations that have been provided appear to be nouns.
  13. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    You are right. I'm aware of that. Just I couldn't explain it clear enough since my English is limited. Thanks. :)
  14. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In Portuguese, the only connection I can think of is through the word esconjurar, "to conjure", i.e. to exorcize, to summon or invoke -- a deity, but also a demon. This derives from jurar, to swear, though it probably goes back to Latin.
  15. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    There's another one - 'oath' can also mean 'swear word'. :)
  16. ancalimon Senior Member

    In Turkic languages, there is another word for promising. It's "ant içmek" (to drink ant). Ant was a cup of fermented horse milk (kımız) with three drops of blood from the people that were giving a promise. This was usually done by leaders when they were swearing an allegiance. There is also a Turkic tamga (it means shape with a meaning. You probably use the word rune for those letters in your language) for this word alone which resembles a cup with three dots in it.

  17. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    "To drink (or eat) an oath" is an expression that's widespread. It originated in Persian and spread throughout the Iranian, Turkic, and Indic worlds.
  18. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, this is correct. But the basis for it is that two etymologically separate roots have coalesced in Iranian *hwar-. First Indo-European *swer- ‘to swear’, and second the exclusively Iranian root *hwar- ‘to take, take in, eat’. You can read about it in a very interesting article by Martin Schwartz, “Pers. saugand xurdan, etc. ‘to take an oath’ (not ‘to drink sulphur’)”, Lazard festschrift, 1989, 293-5.
  19. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Thank you for this. Do you think the following explanation provided by Mary Boyce in Encyclopedia Iranica has to do with a false etymology? I will have to read Schwartz in detail but her perspective appears to be different than his.

    “The mildest form of such ordeals required the accused to take a solemn oath, and as he did so to drink a potion containing sulphur (Av. saokant, Mid. Pers. sōgand, NPers. sowgand), a fiery substance which, it was thought, would burn him inwardly if he committed perjury.”
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  20. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Boyce’s article in the EIr was published in 1987; Schwartz’s paper is from 1989 and proposes a new theory.
    Even if sōgand xwardan originally meant “to swear an oath” it is clear that it was eventually reinterpreted to mean “to drink sulphur”. This is not contested.

Share This Page