False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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k1234567890y
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by k1234567890y »

Sanskrit आर्य (ārya) /ˈɑːɾ.jɐ/ “noble, noble one” v.s. Proto-Finnic orja /ˈorjɑ/ "slave"

Also

English friend /fɹɛnd/ v.s. Swedish frände /frɛnˈdɛ/ "relative"
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Vlürch »

k1234567890y wrote: 27 Mar 2021 22:13Sanskrit आर्य (ārya) /ˈɑːɾ.jɐ/ “noble, noble one” v.s. Proto-Finnic orja /ˈorjɑ/ "slave"
At least commonly the Finnish term (also found in other Uralic languages) is considered a loanword from Proto-Indo-Iranian, because speakers of Proto-Uralic enslaved speakers of Proto-Indo-Iranian. So yeah, it's a false friend and unfortunate, but not a coincidence... which is what makes it even more unfortunate. [>_<]
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Vlürch wrote: 29 Mar 2021 19:26
k1234567890y wrote: 27 Mar 2021 22:13Sanskrit आर्य (ārya) /ˈɑːɾ.jɐ/ “noble, noble one” v.s. Proto-Finnic orja /ˈorjɑ/ "slave"
At least commonly the Finnish term (also found in other Uralic languages) is considered a loanword from Proto-Indo-Iranian, because speakers of Proto-Uralic enslaved speakers of Proto-Indo-Iranian. So yeah, it's a false friend and unfortunate, but not a coincidence... which is what makes it even more unfortunate. [>_<]
ik it is not a coincidence, but still list them because they are false friends.
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Vlürch wrote: 29 Mar 2021 19:26
k1234567890y wrote: 27 Mar 2021 22:13Sanskrit आर्य (ārya) /ˈɑːɾ.jɐ/ “noble, noble one” v.s. Proto-Finnic orja /ˈorjɑ/ "slave"
At least commonly the Finnish term (also found in other Uralic languages) is considered a loanword from Proto-Indo-Iranian, because speakers of Proto-Uralic enslaved speakers of Proto-Indo-Iranian.
Well, maybe. We know basically nothing about speakers of Proto-Uralic: who they were, where they lived and when they lived, exactly, are all still unanswered questions, AFAIU. So getting into specifics about their culture or policy towards other tribes is iffy, to say the least. Of course, there are certain more recent examples of a parallel connection between an ethnonym and slavery, so it's certainly plausible.


k1234567890y wrote: 30 Mar 2021 12:54ik it is not a coincidence, but still list them because they are false friends.
I'd say these are probably distinct enough in their modern forms that they're not that likely to get mixed up, but then, I haven't really had many discussions about slavery in Sanskrit (or about nobles in Finnish with native speakers of Sanskrit), so I guess I wouldn't really know. 🤔
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Inter-Chinese false friends:
Mandarin [tʰai˧˩t͡ɕi˧˥]"Tai-chi" Cantonese: [tʰai˧˩t͡ɕi˧˥] or [tʰai˧˩t͡si˧˥] "Grape"
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Finnish fani "fan" v.s. Faroese fani "devil"

but well, fans can sometimes be devilish to their idols lol
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by WeepingElf »

German Genie 'genius' vs. English genie
German Genius 'a kind of aerial spirit' vs. English genius

I.e., the meanings are almost perfectly reversed in the two languages ;)

English genie is from Arabic jinni, while German Genie is from French génie < Latin gênius, the source of both English genius and German Genius.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Salmoneus »

WeepingElf wrote: 28 Jun 2021 19:00 German Genie 'genius' vs. English genie
German Genius 'a kind of aerial spirit' vs. English genius

I.e., the meanings are almost perfectly reversed in the two languages ;)

English genie is from Arabic jinni, while German Genie is from French génie < Latin gênius, the source of both English genius and German Genius.
False friends, but not necessarily false cognates. Wiktionary thinks 'genie' is also from French 'génie' (and hence Latin 'genius') - a translation of 'djinn' inspired by sound, rather than a borrowing. In turn, Wiktionary suspects that 'djinn' and 'genius', and Aramaic 'ginnaya' (tutelary deity) are all from the same substrate word.

But yes, it's ironic that English and German have taken different meanings to be primary, and re-borrowed from Latin for the secondary meanings. Although I will say, in English 'genius' can be used for any of the other meanings, it's just less common.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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I dont know .... "compare" seems to be a lexicographers' euphemism for "we dont know if these words are related, but it's tempting...." ... I cant pull out other examples now, but I know Ive seen it used that way (and its scholarly abbreviation, cf.) the words arent that close, really, when you consider that the root structure of Semitic languages treats geminate consonants as sequences, meaning that a vowel can come between them, and i think it's unlikely that a word would be borrowed from a Latin form like geni- and show up with a geminate in early Semitic unless they are known to have done that with other such words. likewise i doubt the Latin word is a loan from Semitic since it already existed as a native root, appearing in words like "ingenious".

just my thoughts though .... Im not well read on pre-Biblical mythology or on which groups lived in the right places for contacts like this to spread.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Mandarin 八 bā "Eight" vs. Vietnamese <Ba> "Three"
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Pabappa »

in eastern Europe, /ponos/ can mean any of ...

pride (Slovenian, Serbian, etc)
pain (Greek)
diarrhea (Russian)
to insult (Old Church Slavonic, but with derivatives in modern languages)
unpleasant consequence (Romanian)

There are still other meanings in some languages but they are transparently compound.

Im not actually sure which, if any, of these meanings are actually related to each other and which are coincidences. The word meaning diarrhea has final stress, making it less likely that it's part of the same family as the others, but perhaps it was reanalyzed at some point as containing the very common Russian prefix po-.

But the Romanian word looks like a possible link between a hypothetical Greek original and all the meanings besides pride. I could even see pride coming from an earlier meaning to insult.

Does anyone know more or have thoughts?
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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When I took Japanese lessons years ago, I was amused by the way Japanese kane 'bell' resembled German Kanne
'jug' - as if the Japanese used jugs for bells ;)
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

WeepingElf wrote: 03 Oct 2021 17:50 When I took Japanese lessons years ago, I was amused by the way Japanese kane 'bell' resembled German Kanne
'jug' - as if the Japanese used jugs for bells ;)
You must have thought something similar about namae and Name.

While we're in Asia, some Korean words for "river" and "liver" are kang and kan, respectively. I find it amusing that in both languages the words happen to be similar to one another.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by WeepingElf »

Backstroke_Italics wrote: 04 Oct 2021 03:22
WeepingElf wrote: 03 Oct 2021 17:50 When I took Japanese lessons years ago, I was amused by the way Japanese kane 'bell' resembled German Kanne
'jug' - as if the Japanese used jugs for bells ;)
You must have thought something similar about namae and Name.
A classic example of a false cognate. Both the IE and the Japanese words for 'name' consist of two morphemes: PIE *h1neh3-mn, Jap. na-mae. In both languages the core lexical meaning is in the first member, and it wouldn't surprise me if Nostraticists considered these true cognates. At least Proto-Uralic *nimi is usually claimed as a cognate of the PIE name-word in those quarters, but the fact that the PIE word is morphologically complex and there do not seem to be any counterparts of the laryngeals in the Uralic word renders this doubtful, and we are probably dealing with a chance resemblance, as with the Japanese word.

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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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/nimi/ could be cognate to the PIE word in the assumption that /mm/ > /m/ during some stage of the long development of the PIE branch, perhaps passing through a stage in which the disappearing /-m-/ made the stem vowel rounded, which then later become reinterpreted as a laryngeal. (By that I mean, in its reflexes , not in the surface pronunciation of the word.)

I agree that the case is very weak, though, since the surface intersection is really just the /n/, which means it's the same level of similarity as the Japanese word.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

Pabappa wrote: 04 Oct 2021 17:42 Our tales begins, long, long ago...
I hate to interrupt, but the Finnish word siemen would seem to contradict any possibility of *nimi being derived from *hnomn.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Backstroke_Italics wrote: 04 Oct 2021 03:22 I find it amusing that in both languages the words happen to be similar to one another.
On that note, in English we have two and to, which in Japanese are ni and ni respectively.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Backstroke_Italics wrote: 05 Oct 2021 05:01
Pabappa wrote: 04 Oct 2021 17:42 Our tales begins, long, long ago...
I hate to interrupt, but the Finnish word siemen would seem to contradict any possibility of *nimi being derived from *hnomn.
FWIW, LSS Ánte says this:
Another possibility is to assume that Proto-Indo-European words were not borrowed directly into Uralic, but mediated by unknown intermediate languages. Such a hypothesis could also better explain those apparent lexical parallels which involve a less precise phonological match, such as PU *nimi 'name' ~ PIE *h3noh3men- 'name'.
Then again, several of the proposed PIE loans in PU are in fairly core vocabulary, which should only rarely be borrowed in the first place (and indeed, the idea that they could all be loans is somewhat controversial, although I don't think there've been any particularly convincing alternative explanations, either). So the suggestion that they were actually borrowed from PIE into other languages first and then again from said other languages into PU feels like perhaps a bit of a stretch. I guess one fairly obvious solution would be to suggest borrowings from some otherwise unattested Para-Indo-European language, but I'm not sure if any serious researcher has looked into that yet.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Why do people so often assume there were loans? It could just as well be, with such a simple concept, that the word is original to both branches of Indo-Uralic and developed according to now-lost rules, likely changing much more on the IE side than on the Uralic side, from the original root. Again, though, the case is weak, since it relies on the theory that PIE underwent a simplification such as /mm/ > /m/.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Salmoneus »

Xonen: There's also the fact that PU is presumably younger - potentially thousands of years younger - than PIE. AIUI it's thought that most borrowings into PU are from Indo-Iranian (or a related branch), but it's possible - indeed probably likely - that the borrowings may have been from multiple languages, at multiple times, and that some of the donors are lost branches of IE. It's also entirely possible that pre-PU might have had contact with para-IE languages (genetically, people associated with Uralic groups have generally been moving westward, but people (whose languages are lost) associated with IE groups have generally been moving eastward through the same areas). And yes, there must have been a great many languages in the area that could have served as intermediaries for loans. If we consider an area from Italy to the Yenesei, from Norway to central China, from central India to the Arctic, we know of only one or two languages (PIE, possibly some form of pre-PU) that were spoken there in the relevant time (oh, and Burushaski, I guess?). That's a vast area we are almost completely linguistically ignorant of.

So it's to be expected that not all borrowings show the same development from PIE.


Pabappa: If they weren't loans, we'd have to assume that IE and Uralic were related somehow, which seems implausible given their histories (except perhaps at an extreme time-depth). We'd also have to deal with the relative lack of these words: why have a tiny number of words somehow survived in suspiciously recognisable form over such time, and yet the vast majority of the vocabulary is seemingly completely unrelated? And given that we have to resort to borrowing anyway (II loans into Proto-Uralic (or Proto-Finno-Ugric or something)), and later Germanic/para-Germanic (and possibly Baltic?) loans into Finnic, not much is gained by assuming a tiny core of non-loanword cognates. There's also the intuitive problem that a lot of the commonalities that seem obvious when comparing Uralic to later IE languages actually look less likely when you instead compare them to the PIE words, when, if it's a true family relation it ought to be the opposite. For instance, "nime" does look like "name"... but less like "hnomn". Likewise, "wete" does look like "water", but rather less like "wodr"...
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