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etymology of the word "dog"

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Jenny
190463.  Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:44 am Reply with quote

Hi Koorosh and welcome to the forum. I'm really interested in what you have to say about IE roots - stick around!

 
suze
190490.  Thu Jul 12, 2007 5:48 am Reply with quote

Likewise! Welcome Koroosh, it's always good to see another linguist around the place.

The shift from /s/ to /h/ is well enough attested, and there are examples from Avestan (the language of the Zoroastrian liturgy), Armenian and Greek.

I can't see a mechanism at present for a shift from /s/ to /d/ - in fact a shift the other way is perhaps easier to construct. As I'm sure you know, the etymology of the word "dog" is one of the Great Unsolved Mysteries - so if you can find a plausible way to link it to Persian, much credit will be due!

 
Koorosh Angali
190654.  Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:47 am Reply with quote

I would like to see some examples for /s/ ~ /d/. The word for "dog" is, and is not, a mystery. It is linguistically possible to proof that this word is a derivative of the old IE for "horse", as in Persian asb. For the sake of argumment, let us compare the following specimens for "dog" and "horse" in different Iranian dialects:

"dog":
Old Iranian vn (you can see the derivative "hound" in it, don't you?), (which could be related to the French cheval 'horse'); Young Avestan (that is, the latter period of the two Avestan periods) spā; Old Persian * spaco-; Middle Persian sak, sag; Semnāni esbe; Tālei sipa; Kāghari esb, esp; Afghani (yes, it is an Iranian dialect) spai; etc.

Now let us compare these with the Iranian words for "horse":
OlPers. asa-; Median aspa-; Av. aspa-; Mid. Pers. asp; New Pers. asb.

As we can see, it is possible to relate these two words; especially that in Persian a diminutive suffix as Mid. Pers. [-ag], New Pers. [-ak] exists. Therefore, we may conclude that the Persian word sag 'dog' is in its earlier development * aspag, *aswag, etc. 'the little horse' (as in little horsy).

All that said, this hypothesis could very well be wrong; in which case, the word for "dog" would still remain as a mystery.

 
B. Frank
411739.  Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:21 am Reply with quote

The problem with the etymology of the word 'dog' is that there isn't a good explanation of why it overtook the wide spread word 'hund'. The ultimate origins of the word will not explain this mystery. I really think etymological analysis is too narrow an approach for finding an answer.

I think the answer is probably to be found outside of the realm of linguistics, i.e., perhaps there was a development in England (and in Spain) before the words 'dog' and 'perro' emerged. Perhaps a new breed was created. Or perhaps dogs assumed a more modern function at this point, something like the move from using dogs to herd sheep to using them as police animals.

One way to pursue this angle would be to do a discourse analysis of all the documents we have from this time period to try to figure out, for instance, who first started using 'dog'. Were they people in authority? Breeders? Farmers? Also, were there other words that emerged at this point, words which might point to a broader shift in social or economic structures? These documents must be available in a digital archive somewhere. I think this problem could be solved if you put together an interdisciplinary team of researchers (two linguists with expertise in the history of English and Spanish respectively, two historians (England, Spain) and a social scientist with expertise in discourse analysis and social and economic changes in the West over the past 500 years.

Koorosh Angali wrote:
I would like to see some examples for /s/ ~ /d/. The word for "dog" is, and is not, a mystery. It is linguistically possible to proof that this word is a derivative of the old IE for "horse", as in Persian asb. For the sake of argumment, let us compare the following specimens for "dog" and "horse" in different Iranian dialects:

"dog":
Old Iranian vn (you can see the derivative "hound" in it, don't you?), (which could be related to the French cheval 'horse'); Young Avestan (that is, the latter period of the two Avestan periods) spā; Old Persian * spaco-; Middle Persian sak, sag; Semnāni esbe; Tālei sipa; Kāghari esb, esp; Afghani (yes, it is an Iranian dialect) spai; etc.

Now let us compare these with the Iranian words for "horse":
OlPers. asa-; Median aspa-; Av. aspa-; Mid. Pers. asp; New Pers. asb.

As we can see, it is possible to relate these two words; especially that in Persian a diminutive suffix as Mid. Pers. [-ag], New Pers. [-ak] exists. Therefore, we may conclude that the Persian word sag 'dog' is in its earlier development * aspag, *aswag, etc. 'the little horse' (as in little horsy).

All that said, this hypothesis could very well be wrong; in which case, the word for "dog" would still remain as a mystery.

 
soup
418814.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:42 am Reply with quote

Heleendje wrote:

Ahhh yeah! And then there's our irritating tendency of naming certain types of dog after famous commercials for dogfood, e.g. "Nero'kes" (Yorkshire Terriers) and "Cesarkes" (West Highland White Terriers). But I suppose we're not alone in that.



Not named after a dog food but Olde English sheepdogs tend to get called Dulux dogs.

http://tinyurl.com/4499dz (use of Olde English sheepdog being called a Dulux dog)

 
Arcane
418856.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:33 am Reply with quote

The same thing was done with Shar Pei's in Australia - a puppy appeared in toilet paper commercial (as you do) so they were called "Roly dogs"for a while.

On a side note regarding dogs: My aunt, known for her brevity, called her dog "Shed" - because it lived in the shed. Eh....

 
Alfred E Neuman
418861.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:41 am Reply with quote

Did she call her shed "Dog" because her dog lived in it?

 
Arcane
418865.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:46 am Reply with quote

No, then the dog would be called "dog" because the shed it lived in was called "dog"!

 
dr.bob
418869.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:59 am Reply with quote

I called my dog "blacksmith" because, every time he heard the postman, he made a bolt for the door.

 
Arcane
419138.  Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:35 pm Reply with quote

Oh that's funny dr.bob ... actually that could make a good little thread if it hasn't been done already!

 
Mandibles
419644.  Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:07 pm Reply with quote

You're all barking mad. :)

 
bobwilson
419652.  Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
I called my dog "blacksmith" because, every time he heard the postman, he made a bolt for the door.


I don't understand - did your dog have an irrational fear of the postman?

 
padithedon
437421.  Sun Nov 09, 2008 4:57 pm Reply with quote

I wonder, is there any chance of the word dog (docga) coming from the same root as the Old Norse word "toga" (OE equivalent togian, originally from the indo-european root "deuk", which coincidentally sprouted the Venetian "doge" according to several sources I've read)?
The words sound similar, and "d" and "t" are easily interchangable sounds. It sort of makes sense as (presumably) the Norsemen would have used dogs to pull sledges back in their Scandinavian homelands. The only definition I've found of the original word "docga" describes it as referring to a powerful canine - and a dog that pulled a sledge would need to be powerful.
It would also explain why the word wasn't recorded until around 1050 AD, as 1) It wouldn't be commonly used in an English climate as the type of dog would be unnecessary 2) I might be wrong, but I'd imagine literacy amongst the Vikings was pretty poor.

It might also explain why the word spread so readily around Europe as it could have been spread by Viking traders and settlers?

Any thoughts?

 
Posital
437453.  Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:23 pm Reply with quote

Could it even be something as dumb as reversing (phonetically) god to get dog?

In Buenos Aires, there's a fashionable word-game where people swap syllables - so tango becomes go-tan. But retains the same meaning.

Maybe the word "hound" became unfashionable for some reason (a la Aujourd'hui in french).

Maybe some kind of joke/religious/political viral marketing in the Middle Ages?

Not that I've heard of anything like this becoming mainstream, beyond "Cockney rhyming slang".

Anyone fancy building a straw man out of this?

 
Dragonblaster
589645.  Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:49 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
In Buenos Aires, there's a fashionable word-game where people swap syllables - so tango becomes go-tan. But retains the same meaning.


In France, they have Verlan (l'invers) or back-slang. It's not a game any more, but common parlance (it was once a thieves' cant, like Cockney rhyming slang, but is now common). I hnave no idea if it was en vogue when the Normans came to town, although I suspect it was a later phenomenon.

However, by that route from English I can see "dog" deriving easily from "cot" (protector of infants, as with Gelert), or "dock" (patrolling shipyards in search of malefactors) . From French, perhaps cte (coast) or gaudir (OF to celebrate --> gaud)?

 

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