Re: searching for common words for all today's languages

From: pielewe
Message: 43351
Date: 2006-02-10

--- In, "mkelkar2003" <smykelkar@...> wrote:

> It is unlikely that a language would borrow a word for "water" from
> another language.

I completely agree with the spirit of this, yet an Uralicist I used
to meet in Leiden would object that, you know, in Helsinki slang
Russian "voda" is the word meaning 'water'. Which forcefully reminded
me of the fact that in the Amsterdam dialect, water you can fall into
(canals etc.) is called (or used to be called) "majem", which is
apparently Hebrew. (And a broadening of the meaning from 'water you
fall into' to include any kind of water can't be excluded once you've
reached that stage.) And in Squamish, 'water' is a derivation
from 'drink' in the same way that 'work' is a derivation from 'work'.

So you can't even count on 'water'.

Yet I completely agree with the spirit of the remark: we can't allow
ourselves to assume people are borrowing words meaning 'water' all
over the place, just to extract ourselves from difficulties we might
not have gotten into if we had gone about things differently.