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Slavic "pekel" or "peklo" does not come from some (artificial) "Indo-European" word "pich", but from verb "peči" - "to burn" (suffer). The second word of Peklo is Nav
- Modern Slavic peći/pešti/peč/piec etc. < Proto-Slavic *pekti < Proto-Indo-European *pekʷ-, whence also Latin coquō, Sanskrit पचति (pácati) and Ancient Greek πέσσω (péssō). This is a well-attested root, and the derivation in Slavic is regular with the preservation of the original meaning.
- OTOH, the Common Slavic word for "hell; pitch" can be reconstructed as *pьkъlъ, *pьkъlo or *pьcьlъ, reflecting Early Proto-Slavic forms *pikil- or *pikul- (Early Proto-Slavic short *i yielded Common Slavic *ь, whilst Early Proto-Slavic short *u yielded Common Slavic *ъ, /k/>/c/ is due to the palatalization). There are also Baltic cognates: Lithuanian pìkis (“pitch”), Latvian piķis (“pitch”) and Old Prussian pyculs (“hell”), which point to the Balto-Slavic form of *pikul-/*pikil-. Comparison with Latin pix (“pitch”) and Ancient Greek πίσσα (píssa, “pitch”) nail down the original Proto-Indo-European nominal stem as *pik- with the meaning "pitch", which is obviously completely unrelated to *pekʷ- whence the Proto-Slavic *pekti stems.
- The original meaning of "pitch" is preserved in Old Church Slavonic MSS., as well as dialectal Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian. The association with the verb for "to burn" that you describe is purely a result of the folk-etymological reinterpretation under the influence of Judeo-Christian mythology which associates the imaginary notion of hell with intense heat where the imaginary notion of soul "burns" as a punishment for the sins committed during their Earthly incarnation. Which is kind of ironic since the original semantic shift from "resin, pitch" towards "hell" was based on the Christian folklore tradition of a boiling pitch existing in such place (cf. the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno). --Ivan Štambuk 15:14, 12 June 2011 (UTC)