From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 25201
Date: 2003-08-20

20-08-03 07:45, lifeiscool86 wrote:

> Well, is there an Proto-Indo-European etymology to the word <<elf>>.
> As we know, it can be traced back to ancient Germanic cognates but
> does this word occur in Proto-Indo-European or just a borrowing?
> o... Germanic ELF, ALF; Latin ALB = fair?

The Germanic word is *albaz (OE ælf, OHG alp, ON álfr) with a
heteroclitic i-stem plural (OE ylfe) as in ethnic names (which shows
that the elves were regarded as a "society"). They came to be confused
with fays/fairies (BTW the words <fairy> and <fair> are unrelated!) in
Mediaeval literature, but the original Germanic elves were supposed to
be dwarfish and somewhat frightening rather than tall and beautiful.
They were believed to cause nightmares and diseases, and to steal
babies, leaving changelings or "natural fools" in their place. The
etymological connection with *h2al(h?)bH-o- 'white, shining' is possible
but dificult to justify, let alone prove. Skt. r.bHú-, the name of
Indra's artisan, or collectively (<r.bHavah.>) of a whole triad of
semidivine artisans) has been compared, but I think other etymologies
are more convincing.