Monday 5 October 2015

Death = Stink

In some dialects of Serbian there is a word "baz" meaning stink, stench. In Serbian there is also the word "bazdi" meaning "it stinks". Bazdi = bas + di = stink + where or bazdi = bas+ ti = stink + it is. If we look at etymology of this word we see that it has very old cognates but no etymology. The word is said to come from the Proto Slavic root "pьzděti" which comes from Proto-Indo-European root "pesd-". Cognates are:

Belarusian: бздзець ‎(bzdzjecʹ)
Russian: бздеть ‎(bzdetʹ)
Ukrainian: бзді́ти ‎(bzdíty)
Serbo-Croatian: ба̀здети, ба̀здјети, bàzdeti, bàzdjeti
Czech: bzdíti
Polish: bzdzieć
Slovak: bzdieť

Italic: *pezdō

Latin: pēdō

Latvian: bezdêt

Lithuanian: bezdė́ti

Slavic: *bьzděti

Ancient Greek: βδέω ‎(bdéō)

One thing that I have to ask here is why does the proposed root start with "p" when all the cognates except Latin start with "b"? Wouldn't it be much more logical that the root is "bsd" rather than "psd"? 

Anyway, all these words mean stinking air, stink, fart. But not any fart. They mean "sbd", Silent but deadly. This means that the word is used for the smell of the fart and not the sound. 

In Serbian word for loud, audible fart is "prd" and word for farting is "prdeti". This is onomatopoeic  word which developed from an imitation of the sound of farting. The word "prd" is said to come from the Proto Slavic root "*pьrděti" which is in turn derived from the Proto-Indo-European root "perd-". The cognates include:

Latvian: pirst
Lithuanian: persti
Slavic: *pьrděti 

Germanic: *fertaną

Ancient Greek: πέρδομαι ‎(pérdomai)

Sanskrit: पर्दते ‎(párdate)

Bengali: পাদা ‎(pādā)
Gujarati: પાદવું ‎(pādavuṁ)
Hindi: पादना ‎(pādanā)
Avestan: ‎(pərəðaiti)

Albanian: pjerdh

Phrygian: perdomai

I believe that the above Latin verb "pedo" comes from "prd". Basically it a mispronounced "prd-o", where middle "r" was too difficult to pronounce, so it was replaced first with "er" and then with "ē". 

Now the etymology of the root word "prd" is obvious. It is an onomatopoeic root which imitates the sound of farting. "prrrrd or frrrt

I also believe that the other word used for silent farts, stinky air, stench is also onomatopoeic and comes from the sound of the buzzing of flies. Let me explain why I think this is to be the case.

In Irish the word "bás" means death. The Wiktionary says that the official etymology says that this word comes from Middle Irish bás, from Old Irish bás, from Proto-Indo-European *gʷes- ‎(“to extinguish”). However this is not certain and actually we don't know where this word comes from. If we look at the Pokorny's dictionary we find: "Ob hierher kelt. *bās- `sterben'?" which means: "Does Celtic *bās- come from this root too". I believe not. 

Is it possible that the Serbian word "baz" meaning stink comes from the Irish word "bás" meaning death? Or is it the other way round. Does the Irish word "bás" meaning death come from the Serbian word "baz" meaning stink? I believe that these two words are closely related. How do we know that someone or some animal is dead? It stinks. Really badly, it reeks. I remember playing in fields and forests when I was a kid. A bad stink coming from a bush or a ditch or a hole was a sign that there was something dead in there. 

The word "bas" meaning smell, scent but also foul smell, stench also exists in Hindi.

There's no verb 'to die' in Irish. It's expressed by the formula 'fuair sé bás' -> 'he got death'. Which means that the expression could originally have meant 'he got a bad smell'.

The actual word "baz" could be onomatopoeic, coming from "bz" the sound of flies flying around the stinking rotting corpse. In south of Serbia the word "baz" is actually pronounced "bz". The word "bazdi" meaning it stinks is pronounced "bzdi".  If it "bzdi" and you can hear the "bz" sound of the flies then it is definitely "bás", dead.

I believe that all the other words from the first cluster denoting the silent fart, stinky air, stench come not from the root "pesd" but from this onomatopoeic root "bz" "bzd".

That indeed there is a connection between death and stench can be see from the relation between these two Serbian words "smrt" (death) and smrd (stench).

In Serbian word for "to die" is "mreti". It is said that this word comes from the Proto Slavic root "merti" which is itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European root "mer-" meaning to die. Serbian word for death is "smrt" = s + mrt, which literally means "with death". Serbian word for a dead person is "mrc" pronounced mrts, or "mrtav" from mrt + sav = dead + completely, all. 

The main Serbian word for stink is "smrd" or "smrad". This word is said to come from the Proto Slavic root "smerd" which is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root "smerd". Basically the word for death and stench are almost identical, and i believe that they used to be one and the same. What is dead stinks, and what stinks is dead. So smrt - smrd (death - stink) is exact copy of the bas - baz (death - stink) relationship. What stinks is dead what is dead stinks....

We even have the same pattern of hardening the last consonant to form the word stink from word for death in both word pairs.

bas (death) - baz (stink)  s --> z
smrt (death) -  smrd (stink) t --> d

I believe that the smrt - smrd word pair comes from R1a genetic language group, which genetic language group does word pair bas - baz come from? R1b, Celtic?


  1. Dear friend, I would like to add that the word "bādi" is referred to "sbd", Silent but deadly (stinking) fart, in some parts of India. "mernā" in Hindi means to die. Thanks for bringing out word roots and further its derivations in different languages.

  2. Interesting. Thanks for sharing!