Re: [tied] Re: Ground squirrels suck

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 5681
Date: 2001-01-21

Teachin' an ol' trapper to track squirrels, eh? :). I'm aware of these connections. The question is how real they are. Polish sus might be a by-form of szus, but Russian evidence cited by Sergei makes it likely that there is a purely Slavic root s^us-/sus- < *k^euk^-/*k^ouk^-, accidentally confusible with szus < German Schuss. This is why we are exploring a (hopefully) new etymological solution. The susl- : sys-/sUs- < *suk^- 'suck' looks to me like a folk-etymology (your derivation of "gopher" is probably another), provoked by the secondarily onomatopoeic value of *sus(U)lU. I know you can find these etymologies in dictionaries, but you'd be surprised to see how often dictionary-compilers are wrong.
The name "gopher" is erroneously applied to various ground squirrels (such as Spermophilus) and prairie dogs, but real gophers make up the exclusively North and Central American family Geomyidae -- they are not sciurids.
----- Original Message -----
From: stefan
Sent: Sunday, January 21, 2001 1:19 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: Fire and the naughty little squirrel

[S] A nice shot in the dark, but I think you have missed with "sus"
which is an alternative form od "szus" and that comes from German
"Schuss" . English "shoot"  also means "to go swiftly and suddenly,
to rush"

The good news is that you are probably on the right track, because
Polish  "susel" (gopher) is derived from the sound that animal
makes - from ChurchSl. "sysati" to hiss or squeak. Gopher is also a
name for ground-squirrel as well as other burrowing rodents. The
etymology of gopher is derived fron French  "gaufre". honeycomb and
that by a circuitous route was associated with the sucking noise
those animals make.
Hence a Polish old expression "he drinks like a gopher" (pije jak
susel) was derived from the word "suck" (sysac, Russ. suslit') Suck
and hiss are similar noises.

A bit involved but it can be unravelled with a bit of linguistic
goodwill  :-))