Re: [tied] Re: There was a crooked snake

From: João S. Lopes Filho
Message: 7874
Date: 2001-07-14

How about a relation between SNAKE and NAGA ? *SNAG- ?
----- Original Message -----
From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: [tied] Re: There was a crooked snake

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 10:43 AM
Subject: [tied] Re: There was a crooked snake

>> In that case the specifically Latin meaning "water snake" (= grass snake) would have been due to a folk-etymological association with <nato:> 'swim'.

> Or the original snake-verb meant "to wriggle", hence "to swim"?
Not very likely. The meanings of <nato:> include things like "float" or "flood", which don't imply active swimming. I think <nato:> is a suffixed by-form of <no:> < *(s)nah2-. What makes me suspect that the old meaning of <natrix> was "adder", as in Germanic, is the fact that the Romans used the word to refer to contemptible individuals. BTW, I have checked the "snake" entry in the EIEC and *neh1-tr- is also analysed as "twister" there.

> Aren't you trying to be Linnaeus again? (By which I mean; Which is (or rather was) the conceptually primary: the snake or the snakeness?)
Aren't _you_ trying to be Plato again? :) Well, I was not interested in a hairsplitting taxonomy for its own sake but in the internal semantic complexity of the PIE concept of "snake". For example, did the IEs distinguish venomous and harmless snakes (by having different terms for them), or did they hate snakes in general, called them all the same names and adopted an attitude that could be summarised as "the only harmless snake is a dead snake"? I was thinking of facts underpinning their snake myths. I do not insist that all myth must have a "rational" factual basis. There may be mythological aspects of "snakehood" (or shall we say archetypal "serpency"?) that are conceptually more primitive than "snakes as animals". I wonder, however, if snakes were always regarded as destructive; down to historical times Aesculapian snakes and grass snakes hung about sacred places in many parts of Europe and were respected but not feared.

> There is another "naga" word that means "tree" >? "spear, knife" > "wound" ("Nóz^ w wodzie", as Polanski filmed). Isn't that also the world tree at the root of which the snake (not "bad" serpent) gnaws? Perhaps the porcupine should be related hereto?
The word *noz^I 'knife' (reflected in the title of Polanski's film) -- is derived from the root *nez- 'transfix, pierce', which survives only in derivatives and has only a couple of very insecure cognates outside Balto-Slavic (*noz^I < *noz-jo-). Inasmuch as it can be reconstructed in the IE frame, it should be something like *neg^H. I am not convinced that Gk. enkhos 'spear' belongs here, but if it does, it may contain a secondary full grade of a root reconstructible as *h1neg^H-. In either case the verbal meaning "stab, wound" is primary, the meaning "knife" is derived from it, and the meaning "tree" is not attested at all, as far as I can see.
The "fire" set would be a good topic for a whole new thread. Gotta crawl away. Ssssee you later.

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