Re: [tied] kuningas <-> knyaz

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8155
Date: 2001-07-29

Germanic *kuning-az was borrowed into Proto-Slavic as *kUnIng-U (and into East Baltic as *kunig-as, with the second nasal lost through dissimilation) at some point after Grimm's Law but before the Slavic progressive palatalisation. After the progressive palatalisation the word became *kUne~dzI (e~ = nasal [e]) 'duke, prince', hence Russian kn'az', Czech kne^z, OCSl kUne~dzI, etc.
Polish shows some curious semantic developments. The Modern Polish reflex of *kUne~dzI is <ksia,dz> 'priest, especially a Roman Catholic one' (pronounced [ks'ondz], where s' = voiceless alveopalatal fricative, a 13th-century dissimilatory substitute for an older palatal nasal [n']). The word meant "prince" (in opposition to <król> 'king') in very early Polish, but by the 14th century it was used primarily as a polite term of address applied to priests. The Proto-Slavic meaning was "inherited" by the Polish derivative <ksia,z.e,> (pl. <ksia,z.e,ta>, originally a neuter diminutive in *-nt-).
The family of Polish words based on *kuning- includes also <ksie,z.yc>, now the standard word for "moon" (replacing inherited <miesia,c>, which now means only "month", except in archaic or lofty styles). This word derives from *kUnIng- plus patronymic *-itj-, meaning "son of a prince", an epithet revealing (rather vaguely) something about the role of the lunar deity in Slavic mythology. Perhaps the young moon was regarded as the child of the previous month's full moon.
----- Original Message -----
From: tgpedersen@...
Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2001 1:53 PM
Subject: [tied] kuningas <-> knyaz

  Is there any connection between Germanic *kuningas "king" (as borrowed into Finnish) and Russian (and Slavic) knyaz "prince" (where ya < a nasal vowel). This would presuppose some Pre-Gmc. *kuníngas, I suppose?