To cook in English

dihydrogen monoxide

Senior Member
Slovene, Serbo-Croat
How come the word cooker does not mean the one who cooks in English, but refers to a machine?. Usually, the suffix -er, is given to a person and denotes something being done. How did English end up with cook as someone who cooks, I don't know other examples of this in English. So the regular outcome would be to cook-cooker 'someone who does cooking as a profession', what prevented that regular outcome?
 
  • pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    I assume it has to do with the fact that "cook" (person who cooks) came from Latin at a very early date, so early that it was borrowed into pretty much all of the Germanic languages (I assume through Proto-Germanic). Even Icelandic has a cognate (kokkur; note: -ur is the nominative suffix, not an agent suffix), which to me demonstrates just how early it must have been, because the active linguistic purification of Icelandic would likely have replaced it with a word of Norse origin if it were perceived to be foreign. The verb "to cook" was based on the noun, not the other way around, which would necessitate the addition of the agent suffix -er. (cf. v. speak > n. speaker)

    From Wiktionary for the Proto-Western-Germanic noun *kok ("Borrowed from Latin coquus")
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    How come the word cooker does not mean the one who cooks in English, but refers to a machine?. Usually, the suffix -er, is given to a person and denotes something being done.
    The -er suffix forms agent nouns from verbs but that doesn't necessarily mean that these agents have to be human beings. I am not quite sure where you get that idea from. The suffix is frequently used to construct words that describe machines that perform a certain action or are used for performing an action like computer, toaster, mower, ... Some of these nouns have been used for both persons and machines, like computer, which until the late 50s used to mean a person employed to perform computations.
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I assume it has to do with the fact that "cook" (person who cooks) came from Latin at a very early date, so early that it was borrowed into pretty much all of the Germanic languages (I assume through Proto-Germanic). Even Icelandic has a cognate (kokkur; note: -ur is the nominative suffix, not an agent suffix), which to me demonstrates just how early it must have been, because the active linguistic purification of Icelandic would likely have replaced it with a word of Norse origin if it were perceived to be foreign. The verb "to cook" was based on the noun, not the other way around, which would necessitate the addition of the agent suffix -er. (cf. v. speak > n. speaker)

    From Wiktionary for the Proto-Western-Germanic noun *kok ("Borrowed from Latin coquus")
    I see that Pfeifer derives both the noun Koch and the verb kochen directly from Latin (i.e. from cocus and cocere respectively).

    DWDS – Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Usually, the suffix -er, is given to a person and denotes something being done.

    Sometimes it refers to a thing, sometimes to a person and sometimes to both. The word which springs to mind which covers both is "cleaner". "Duster" and "sweeper" can be applied to persons but more usually refer to things. There is also the noun "sweep", but that is generally restricted to chimney sweeps.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I have looked up the entries in the Latin etymological dictionaries (most recently de Vaan). The prevalent view seems to be that the verb goes back to IE *pekʷ-e/o- and the noun to *pokʷ-e/o-. The noun appears without further suffix also in Greek arto-kopos “bread baker”.
     

    OBrasilo

    Senior Member
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    If it does go back to that IE root, then it might be related to the Slovenian pek which means "baker". Notice that it's also without a suffix. There is a suffixed word, pekač, which means the rectangular, metallic thing where you put food into for baking.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Having taken a look at this list on Wiktionary of derivations of the PIE root *pekʷ, it's very interesting to me that the Germanic branch is conspicuously absent. I know that not every root made it to every language family (or, rather, not every root is reconstructable from all language families), but I wonder what happened there. I assume that people spoke about cooking before the arrival of coquus, but for it to displace the original word(s) in a whole slew of languages (even if it was still some level of the proto language, the territory where it was spoken was rather large) is very interesting to me.
     

    jimquk

    Member
    British English
    Having taken a look at this list on Wiktionary of derivations of the PIE root *pekʷ, it's very interesting to me that the Germanic branch is conspicuously absent. I know that not every root made it to every language family (or, rather, not every root is reconstructable from all language families), but I wonder what happened there. I assume that people spoke about cooking before the arrival of coquus, but for it to displace the original word(s) in a whole slew of languages (even if it was still some level of the proto language, the territory where it was spoken was rather large) is very interesting to me.
    Perhaps because in Germanic the descendant of PIE *peku- meaning "cattle, wealth", from which we have "fee, fief, feudal" would have been indistinguishable from the descendant of *pekw-, but that's just a guess; moreover *peku doesn't seem to have cognates outside Latin and Germanic.

    pecuniary | Origin and meaning of pecuniary by Online Etymology Dictionary
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Perhaps because in Germanic the descendant of PIE *peku- meaning "cattle, wealth", from which we have "fee, fief, feudal" would have been indistinguishable from the descendant of *pekw-, but that's just a guess; moreover *peku doesn't seem to have cognates outside Latin and Germanic.
    IE *peḱu- is the source also of Sanskrit paśu-, Avestan pasu-, Lithuanian pēkus, Greek pekos. A link with *pekʷo- is not really possible.
     

    jimquk

    Member
    British English
    IE *peḱu- is the source also of Sanskrit paśu-, Avestan pasu-, Lithuanian pēkus, Greek pekos. A link with *pekʷo- is not really possible.
    What I meant was that, if the two roots had the same outcome in Germanic (would they have?), then this might explain why one was replaced by the loan from Latin.

    I didn't know about the cognates of *peku- in other branches, etymononline let me down there.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The -er suffix forms agent nouns from verbs but that doesn't necessarily mean that these agents have to be human beings.
    And sometimes it doesn’t refer to an agent at all, as in “reader,” which can mean “a book to help you learn how to read,” or “bestseller,” which doesn’t sell anything but is itself sold.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think you can analyse bestseller as an agent noun of the intransitive sense of sell as in This book sells well.
     
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