Rus Articles Journal

How etymologies establish an origin of words? About change of word meanings. Part 1

the Word - a bilateral sign, it has the form (which the phonetics, word formation, morphemics, morphology studies) and value (which the lexicology studies).

We considered how there are formal (sound and word-formation) changes. But both the semantic aspect, and many word meanings " changes in language, as in system; move from an initial point, acquired with births the sense of this or that word is transformed for various reasons. There is it not to all words. We will try to consider rather interesting adventures values (semantics) of words.

To the simplest and many competent people the known example is change of sense of the word a charm . In Old Russian language (it is displayed in written sources) it meant, as well as flattery , deception, cunning, insidiousness . Not without reason then wrote: Prince Litovsk_i vzya Smolenesk charm to Take the city charm moreover and to the prince, at that time, it appears, it was impossible. Such value (semantics) of this word remained still in a number of Slavic languages. And not for nothing in translation of tolkinovsky work the main image of the well-known fairy tale is called some heroes charm .

Such cases of change of semantics of the word, from sharply negative to sharply positive, are not single. English nice ( lovely, pleasant ), faithful to the word charming meant once silly (from armor. nescius - not knowing ) .

There is an interesting example when value of an adjective marvelous did not exchange cardinally, and extended. In dialects ancient semantics of the word remained, there it is impossible to call maiden eyes marvelous because And that is why: the root of miracles - meets in many related languages. The Lithuanian dievas and the Latvian dievs equally mean God . The same value has Old Indian d ē vas and Latin dues . Avestiyskoye of daeva more collective, is translated as demon . The Ancient Greek word dios - divine . Even in Russian dialect divya! we find the remains of the same value: God grant! . Follows from this comparison that davny - long ago the root of miracles - designated a deity to which ancestors worshipped. There was a change of sense, of miracles later - began to correspond to some miracle, something surprising, strange, unclear, connected with supernatural forces. Later even some time the use of the word with this root extended.

Now at an adjective marvelous two values: surprising and fine . The second value - new, old - divine - remained in dialects where also unacceptably maiden eyes to call marvelous (they cannot be divine in a direct sense).

From epithets we will pass to essential words. One linguist asked a question: What is washed by the dishwasher? . Really, we know that the dishwasher designates the woman washing the dishes. But not the woman washing vessels. In a root court - old semantics of the word the vessel, vessels - " remained; ware . And such development of value (from ware to vessel, ship, boat ) is regular, that is repeating.

For example, the boat (historically umenshitelno - caressing from lot ) ascends to " too; crockery to value. Tells related Norwegian olda about it - trough (initial ol - before concordant d changed in East Slavic languages in lo - , cf. old Slavic a castle ). From here we can conclude that, most likely, earlier use of words with " value; ware in relation to vessels was ironical, pejorative.

As we see, semantic changes can be tracked, leaning on written monuments or comparing the same word in related languages (and dialects). For example, the guest corresponds to the Russian word Latin hostis [hostess]. Though it, apparently, anything the general with guest has no and is translated as enemy but nevertheless, it appears, in the ancient time the word guest designated merchant . Verb you stay in Old Russian language it is used in " value; to trade to come with the trade purpose (for example, Gostiny dvor in St. Petersburg). But the enemy and the merchant not absolutely alone and the same, you will tell. And put here here in what: comparison of sense of this word in Slavic and Indo-European languages showed that hostis had other, more ancient semantics - stranger, stranger . In Latin this value developed to enemy and in Russian - to foreign merchant and to the merchant in general.

Be continued


1. Kolesov V. V., Russian History in stories;

2. Yu. V. farmers, To word sources: stories about an origin of words;

3. Shansky N. M., Linguistic detectives.