A remark to *k'onk-

From: Petr Strossa
Message: 9293
Date: 2001-09-10

The presumed root *k'onk- of Germ. words like English _hang_ is
still quite a mystery for me. I could somehow intuitively imagine the
development of such a verb from original perfect forms with
intransitive meaning to a regularly derived causative/transitive.
_If_it_were_so_, the o-grade in the forms of both types would be
natural. But the Germanic forms look almost the other way round (?):
the forms with transitive meaning (OE. _ho:n_ <- PG. *hanhan) seem to
be older, while for the forms with intransitive meaning, a kind of
regular derivation is supposed. (Calvert Watkins gives Prim. Germ.
*hange:n -- stative/intransitive type. But according to J. & E.M.
Wright, OE. _hangian_ could perhaps be an original denominative! But
from what noun?)

Well, what if the `original' root was in fact not *k'onk-, but
*k'ank- -- identical with that one meaning `branch'? (This root
is mentioned in connection with such words as OSl./PSl. `soNkU',
Cz./Russ. `suk', Pol. `se,k' and Welsh `cainc'.) The semantic
shift is not so unexpectable: e.g., Czech _viset_ (`to hang') and the
similar words in all Slav. languages are also sometimes explained as
cognate to Old Prussian _vipis_ (`branch'); after all, what could
people hang things on in the oldest times?

This hypothesis (I think) does not bring more light to the
question why the old-looking `simple thematic' verb forms have
transitive meaning (perhaps it was generally more natural for
these forms?), but at least it could explain the intransitive
Germ. forms as derived -- either in a really denominative way, or as
stative/intransitive verb type from a root giving also nouns.

What do you think of it?