Re: [tied] The Obviousness of the Money Word

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16305
Date: 2002-10-16

Very true, but I was talking of the origin of _English_ <money>, which derives from Romance *mone:tam via Old French moneie in a very straightforward way. The real connection between _them_ has nothing to do with Iuno Moneta, whose involvement in this etymological narrative was earlier and is irrelevant for explaining <money>, unless of course you want to know the _full_ story including the ultimate origin of the Latin word (all right, no etymologist worth the name would wish to miss any part of it :-)). Also mint < OE mynet < West Gmc. munito: <-- mone:ta (which became a common noun already in Latin, whatever its earlier history). I was careful not to mention the link between mone:ta and moneo:, which indeed is purely coincidental and impossible to recover without knowing the historical background. Here I agree with you completely.
----- Original Message -----
From: x99lynx@...
Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2002 5:13 PM
Subject: [tied] The Obviousness of the Money Word

Well, if you connected "money" or "moneta" with the meaning of the Latin word
<moneta> > <monere>, of course, you would have apparently been dead wrong.

NOT in a million years would you have guessed how <money> is now thought to
be connected to <moneta>.  If you were doing the same analysis that has been
applied to Bagaudae, you might have said -- Ah! coinage.  <monere> means "to
remind, admonish, warn, instruct, prophesize."  There's an OBVIOUS connection
between minting and money and monere.  (Money is official, coinage is
replicated, money is sacred, counterfeiters were committing a sin against the
gods, etc., etc.)

But actually the connection between <monere> and "money" looks to be PURE
COINCIDENCE.  One that we -- none of us -- could never have guessed without
written background.

Here's apparently the real connection:
Sacred birds are kept at numerous temples around Rome for the prophetic
reading of entrails and feeding of the priesthood.  About 390 BC, some sacred
geese kept at a Temple of the goddess Juno warn the Romans during the Gallic
seige of 390 BC.  Due to this episode, Juno is given the epithet (one of
many) "Moneta" -- the warner. 

About 344 BC, L. Furius Camillus takes a vow during the war against the
Auruncii, pledging to build a temple to Juno in her role as a "Moneta".
Sometime during the Roman Republican era, a coin mintage is built next to the
temple -- "ad moneta" has been I believe attested in early reference to this

There are a number of coin mints around Rome, not necesssarily next to
temples, but this particular mint becomes a major one, and shares its name
with the neighboring temple. And the well-circulated coinage from the mint
took its name from its source.

And the word "money" is born.  It could just as easily been called

The phonetic connection between <money> and <moneta> -- if it had been
unrecorded and preliterate -- would have completely MISLED us as to the
original meaning of money and how the sounds came to be shared.  There
appears to be no substantive connection.  Just as there may be no substantive
connection between, for example, Geats and Go:te -- even though the words
show phonetic relation.  Prehistory hides such stuff from us.

What is the probability of such random associations?  No one knows because we
can't verify the pre-literate.  But in literate times we know that they are
very common.  But no scientific probablities have been done to my knowledge
-- a prerequisite I would think to any firm statements about how likely these
"non-genetic" associations are.

I don't doubt that the comparative method is a powerful tool in tracing
history, but it has limitations like any tool.  Piotr speaks of "limited
knowledge" and it is probably wise to remember how limited that knowledge may
be -- for all of us.

<<In my first language the word for 'coin' is <moneta> (from Latin, of
course), so I associated that with <money> before I started studying

But not in a million years would linguistics have eventually told you what
the real connection was.  Anymore than it would have told you that America
was named after a 15th Century Italian sailor if all this had happened in
pre-literate times and if written history had not helped out.  I've always
thought that "Vespucciland" has a certain ring to it.  Like a well-minted

Steve Long