User talk:Stephen G. Brown/About etymology of "father"

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About etymology of "father"[edit]

In the etymology section of the word father a fact is not just missing but actually is replaced by a hypothesis. Please correct me if I am wrong but the fact is that the oldest attested record for father is the Mycenaean Greek pa-te πατήρ (pater). Why then does a hypothesis ("Proto-Germanic *fader, Proto-Indo-European *p@ter") takes the place of the fact?Kassios 14:05, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. (1) What is the fact that is missing? (2) What does Mycenaean Greek have to do with the English word father, other than being cognate with it? As far as I can see, the etymology is good, although other spellings are frequently used for the reconstructed PIE. —Stephen 14:16, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, what I am trying to say is that the required in an etymology section is, by definition, to cite the origin and historical development of a word, by determining its basic elements and earliest known use, referring to its oldest recorded form if possible.
So the fact that is missing here is exactly the oldest attested word for father, which is the Mycenaean Greek pa-te "πατήρ" (pater), from which obviously all the other cognations of the word derive from. I don’t see how it can be missing from a good etymology section.
Furthermore, the unattested "Proto-Germanic *fader, Proto-Indo-European *p@ter" are there, while the oldest historically attested Mycenaean Greek pa-te is not! That could happen only if historical accuracy is not required. Forgive me if I sound like I take it too deep, but for me, being an etymologist, historical accuracy is a must in a section of etymology. So can I edit it by adding the fact?Kassios 15:37, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, you can edit the part about cognates to reflect the the Mycenean word, but remember that it is just a cognate and not actually in the line of descent.
An etymology traces a word back af far as possible, with special explanations sometimes needed for unusual cases such as backformations or re-romanizations. Nevertheless, it is helpful in an etymology to list some cognates, but this is not a requirement and only a select few are ever given (this is where the Mycenean word would go).
Separating a word into its basic units and tracing each unit is also normal if there is evidence that the complete word did not come in one piece from the earliest source, in this case PIE. And even if, as with "father," the word is believed to have existed fully formed in PIE, it is still useful to explain the morphemes, and this is certainly something that we know about the word "father," and adding it is an excellent idea. If I recall correctly, the morpheme "pa" is baby talk (like "ma"), and the suffix "-ter" signified familial relationship (but I would have to look in some of my books to be sure of this).
Although unattested, the Proto-Germanic and PIE words are in the direct line of descent, and therefore they are extremely important. While the Mycenean word is historically attested, it is only a distant cousin, and that’s why it’s not as important as the Proto-Germanic or PIE. In fact, the main importance of the Mycenean word is its value in reconstructing the PIE form. —Stephen 19:15, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Come on now Stephen, once more you mentioning to me some made-up "Proto-Germanic *kussijanan < PIE *kuss-," while I proove you the actuall attested real etymons of the words. The first and main rule of etymology is to ascertain the earliest form and use of the word and observe chronology, and then everything else, history, geography, phonetic laws, etc. So terms like "Proto-Germanic, PIE, IE" have a place in theoretical linguistics but they should be left behind in an good methodical etymology section simply because they cant (and shouldn’t) overtake historical data!
Like our dispute on etymology of father for example: You are right that the morphemes "pa" and "ma" are obviously sound formated so they could be found in any language. But the suffix –τηρ "–ter" comes from Ancient Greek language, where it has the meaning of "the active one" or "the dominant one" for either a person or a thing and also has the meaning of "observing" uppon someone, or something. You can see that in almost any of the 587 Ancient Greek words that end with -τηρ "–ter". Add now the above to πα- or μα- and all together to the historical facts I mentioned to my previous posts to you and you have the etymology of πατήρ - father (and μήτηρ - mother), from actual facts and not hypotheses!
Anyway, whan can I say? We obviously have different approach on the etymology issue. Kassios 16:34, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
No, it’s not just different approaches. You are simply in very serious error. You keep harping on "made-up" Proto-Germanic and PIE words. That’s disingenuous. The forms are NOT "made up," they are reconstructions based on plenty of research and sound linguistic principles. While it is possible that there is a minor discrepancy in this or that reconstructed word, the thing that is NOT in question is that the English word came from that word in that language. And while you may have a solid cognate in Ancient Greek, it is JUST a cognate, and the English word did not come from that Greek word by any means whatsoever.
For example, the suffix –τηρ. The English -ter/-ther did not come from the Greek suffix at all, but from the Proto-Germanic -ter, and both Greek –τηρ and Germanic -ter come from PIE. You seem to be laboring under the misconception that English, and by extension the other Germanic and Romance languages, are all offshoots of Greek. That is so ridiculous on every level that I cannot imagine anyone over the age of 8 even considering it.
This is going to be a big problem here, because the etymologies that you are writing are completely wrong, and you’re going to make Wiktionary a laughing stock. I sorry but we simply cannot allow this nonsense to stand. —Stephen 11:14, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Help! Please see User talk:Widsith#On etymology. I am not an admin and I don't really know what else I can say to him. He has now reverted changes to wine, and don't even get me started on daughter and brother. Widsith 08:46, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

I’ll have a look. I just had the same problem with him at father, and then kiss. What he is writing is absolutely ludicrous. —Stephen 11:14, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
See also the new BP discussion. Widsith 11:20, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

"Harpage" and the Letter H in Ancient Greek[edit]

As I said to Widsith, in the rough breathing dialects of the Ancient Greek (Aeolic, Attic, etc.) the letter H declared the exact sound that the same letter has today in English (in Ancient Greek scripts you'll see HELLAS, HEROS, HERAKLES, etc.) In the smooth breathing dialects (Ionic, Lesbian, Cyprian, Cretan etc.) and especially in Minor Asia’s Ionic, the letter H used primarily to declare the long e, which in the rough breathing dialects was only declared with the letter E. However, the Ionic alphabet started to take the place of the Attic alphabet in Attica in about the middle of the 5th cent. BCE and it was officially replaced by it in 403 BCE.

The letter h (ASCII 68) is Roman and was not used in Greek. I don’t know which letter you are trying to describe, but it isn’t ASCII 68. Greek Ηη, for example, are U+0397 and U+03b7. Digamma Ϝϝ = U+03dc and U+03dd. So you have to decide if you’re using the Greek script (no h’s) or a Roman transliteration. —Stephen 20:07, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
The letter H is Greek, as the rest of the Roman letters are. You seem to forget that the Romans had no alphabet until the late 6th cent. BCE when they adopted the Chalchidian (or Euboean) Western Greek Alphabet via the Etruscans. Anyway, here are a few links about H in Ancient Greek: Kassios 19:10, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

You are confusing the graphic with the encoding. While Latin H and Greek Η look the same, they are encoded differently. Fontmakers very often use the identical original artwork to produce both characters, but they always have different encodings. As recently as the 1990’s, all the Greek letters shared Roman encoding, and Roman Hh was encoded the same as Greek Ηη ... the only difference was the selection of font. That has now changed and the only Greek glyphs that share encodings with Roman are the numerals and some punctuation and other translingual symbols. By the way, I am very familiar with both alphabets and their development, as I am with many non-Roman scripts. —Stephen 04:20, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Indeed I got confused then… Sorry for the inconvenience. Kassios 18:18, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

In an etymology edit I always try to state the primal form of the word (in this case HARPΑΓΕ "harpage" and ΗΑRPΑΖΩ "harpazo" are how the words where spelled in their primal forms as seen in ancient scripts) instead of the later (αρπάγη, αρπάζω). Dont you think that's appropriate? Kassios 19:13, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

No, I don’t think that’s appropriate. The primal forms that you are talking about can only be represented in a graphic file such as a GIF or PNG. At various times, the letter R has been drawn with and without the second leg, but when the second leg is present, it is usually shorter. In any case, if a graphic is used, it must indicate the language/dialect and approximate date. But this falls outside of the bounds of etymologies, and is only useful in a treatise on scripts and the development of writing. For an etymology, the useful thing is to use Greek script and accepted Ancient Greek spellings such as ἁρπαγή. If know for certain that a different dialect that is not represented in Unicode is the etymon in question (and I DON’T mean the oldest attested it is extremely unlikely that this will EVER be the case), then you should just transliterate (harpagē) and then you could add the Classical Greek ἁρπαγή as a cognate. —Stephen 20:07, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
I can live with that.  :) Kassios 19:10, 16 May 2006 (UTC)