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215272.  Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:39 am Reply with quote

The English word "mouse" does not derive from little Indian thieves, as reported in the extract from Lloyd & Mitchinson's The QI Book of Animal Intelligence in Saturday's Telegraph. mús- is an Indo-European root common to many languages including Sanskrit, where the spread in meaning is likely to have been from "mouse" to "thief" rather than the other way around.

Curiously, another apparent extension of the Sanskrit word is muskah "testicle" ("little mouse"), which gives us our word musk.

215544.  Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:49 am Reply with quote

The extracts from the book have been significantly edited and the edit in this case has given the sentence a slightly different meaning.

The very name 'mouse' ultimately derives from the Sanskrit root mush, which means mouse and also to steal. Hence wherever we went thereafter - on foot, in carts, or by ship - the little thief kept us company.

It also says:

Sanskrit has forty words for 'mouse'. Mushka is 'little mouse' but also means 'testicle'. From this we get 'musk' [from the scrotum-like gland of the musk deer] and 'muscle' [from its mouse/testicle-like movement under the skin].

215773.  Tue Oct 02, 2007 4:37 am Reply with quote

Thanks grizzly.

It's still wrong though!

Our word muscle does indeed mean "little mouse" but it comes not from Sanskrit but from Latin músculus , the diminutive of mús, which is cognate with the Germanic and Sanskrit words - i.e. they share a common (unrecorded) origin.

(Whever the Indo-Europeans spread, there they found mice, which is probably why it's one of the most widespread and best preserved IE animal terms.)

215802.  Tue Oct 02, 2007 5:36 am Reply with quote

The book claims that the word came to English from Sanskrit through Greek (as mys) and then Latin (as mus). Hence "ultimately".

(I removed this part of the quote since it was in brackets and didn't seem important)

215865.  Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:38 am Reply with quote

Indeed. The authors have misunderstood "cognate" (see above)


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