Monday 23 May 2016

Children playing

Irish: "Tá na páistí ag súgradh sa tsráid"
English: The children are playing in the street.

In the above Irish sentence the word "súgradh" (pronounced "sugra") means "(act of) playing, sporting; amusement, flirting, having fun. This is a verbal noun of a verb that has no finite or participial forms. The Irish "súgradh" comes from the Old Irish "súgrad" with the same meaning. The etymology of this word is unknown. This word has no cognates outside of Gaelic (that I know of)...

Now in Serbian we have the word "igra" meaning "play, game". The verb "igrat", "igrati" means "to play, to dance, to have fun". This word comes from the Proto-Slavic jьgra and has cognates in all Slavic languages: 

Belarusian: ігра ‎(ihra)
Russian: игра ‎(igra)
Ukrainian: гра ‎(hra)
Bulgarian: игра ‎(igra)
Macedonian: игра ‎(igra)
Serbo-Croatian: игра (igra)
Slovene: igra
Old Czech: jhra
Czech: hra
Polabian: jagréića
Old Polish: igra
Polish: gra
Slovak: hra, ihra
Slovincian: gra
Upper Sorbian: jhra, hra
Lower Sorbian: gra, igra

The etymology of this word is unknown. This word has no cognates outside of Slavic languages (that I know of)...

Now are these two words related? I think so because in some dialects of Serbian we have another version of the word "igra": "sigra". This word also means "play, game". And the verb derived from this word is "sigrat", "sigrati" meaning "to play, to dance, to have fun".

So we have:

Slavic wide: "igra", "igrat"
Serbian only: "sigra", "sigrat"
Irish: "súgradh"

All meaning 

"play, game" and "to play, to dance, to have fun"

What do you think? Coincidence?

According to the latest archaeological data, Balkans and particularly the territory of today’s Serbia was a mayor Celtic (Gaulic) stronghold between the 4th and the 1st century bc. I wrote about this in my post "Bran - Vran". The genetic data from the Balkans is showing that the descendants of these Celts are still living in the Balkans, Slavicised and mixed with many other people into Serbians. Maybe this is why it is in the Serbian language that we find words like "sigra" which is the link between the Irish "súgradh" and the Slavic "igra"...

Sunday 22 May 2016

Curing = Smoking

There is a Serbian proverb which says: "Ko se dima ne nadimi, taj se vatre ne nagreje". It means: "Who doesn't get smoked, doesn't get warm". The proverb simply states the fact that from the moment people started using fires inside roofed dwellings, the inside of these dwellings looked, pretty much permanently, like this:

Or like this:

The above two pictures were taken recently in Croatia, inside of two traditional houses with a built in hearths used for traditional cooking. Nice and cosy and smoky. 

The problem is that until very recently, houses had hearths and or stoves but didn't have chimneys.

This is a hearth in a reconstructed Iron Age round house.

This is a 19th century Serbian house from Dinara region:

This is a hearth in a 20th century house in Montenegro.

The smoke created by burning of wood or peat inside of the hearth or the oven had no other way of escaping except through the pores and openings in the roof or through the door. This would have filled the inside of the houses with smoke and would have made the houses from the outside look like they were on fire. You can see the smoke escaping through the roof and the door.

If you for instance approached an Iron Age roundhouse village, or any other village with thatched houses, you would have seen something like this:

Iron age village from "The Romano-British Peasant"

The fire in the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age and Medieval houses was pretty much never extinguished. It was constantly smouldering. Preserving of the house fire was one of the most important duties of the housewife. This means that the house was always smoky. Interestingly, the smoke permeating the roof actually protected the roof from rotting as it killed bacteria and moulds. A big problem in these archaeological parks today is that because there is no permanently smoking fire, the roofs rot away very quickly.

During the winter, I would guess, the house doors were shut, so even more smoke gathered inside of the house and slowly drifted upwards towards the roof. And up there, under the roof, on the supporting beams, people hang fish, meat and skins. Why? Well in the same way the smoke killed bacteria and molds in the thatch, it did the same with the bacteria and moulds in meat turning it into smoked meat.


This type of meat curing, preservation is still used today. This is a picture of an inside of the typical private smoke house from the Balkans. The meat is first covered in salt and left to absorb salt from 10 - 20 days and it is only then smoked. This makes the final product much more resistant to bacteria and therefore more durable.

The smoke from the hearths and ovens would also have helped preserve animal skins and turn them into smoked skins (buckskin, leather).

Buckskin is the soft, pliable, porous preserved hide of an animal which is used for making clothes and bedding. In order to make Buckskin from a raw hide, you first need to scrape the hide to remove any flesh remains. Then you need to tan the hide using any emulsified fat, such as egg yolks or the animal's brain mixed into water. After this you need to stretch and dry the hide which involves continuous pulling and stretching of the hide in all directions, which lubricates the fibers of the hide with the oil of the dressing, and ensures that the fibers stay lubricated. Finally, the dry skin which should now be totally supple and soft, has to be smoked, in order to make it washable and resistant to water.

You can see how this all fits inside of a typical Iron Age roundhouse on this picture:

So it turns out that, probably by chance, people realized that smoking meat and skins preserves them, protects them from rotting. No wonder then that smoke has been used to preserve and flavour food and treat leather since a very long time ago. How long time ago is long time ago? No one knows really, but I would venture to say that the intentional use of smoking for preserving food and skin was probably already used in late Paleolithic, early Mesolithic period of human history.

And here is where we come to linguistics. In English, the word for preserving meat and skin using smoking is "curing".

When we look up the word "cure" in the English Etymological Dictionary it tell us this:

"A process of preservation, as by smoking. In reference to fish, pork, etc., first recorded 1743."

So what was the process of curing meat using smoke called before 1743 I don't know. I would be grateful if someone would clarify this for me. Before 1743, the word "curing" was used with the meaning: 

"Act of healing or state of being healed; restoration to health from disease, or to soundness after injury, a method, device or medication that restores good health. first recorded in late 14c." 

The English word "cure" comes from Old French "curer" meaning "care, cure, healing, cure of souls", which comes from Latin "cura" ((archaic) coira, coera) meaning "care, concern, thought; trouble, solicitude; anxiety, grief, sorrow, attention, management, administration, charge, care, command, office, guardianship, medical attendance, healing, rearing, culture, care, an attendant, guardian, observer"

But where does this Latin word come from? Well, the English Etymological dictionary says: "a noun of unknown origin"...

Let's see if we can find the origin of this mysterious word. 

The original meaning of the verb "to care" was "to care for",  basically "to keep alive", "to preserve". We take care of someone or something that is dear to us, precious to us, and which is not able to take care of itself, like a child, a sick or wounded person, a young domestic animal. So what does "caring for" something or someone involve? Well basically it means keeping this something or someone dry, warm, feeding it, cleaning it, sheltering it from wind and rain, protecting it, making sure that nothing bad is done to it and that it doesn't do anything bad to itself and its surrounding (like wreck the place if what you care for are children or young animals). Basically "caring for" means keeping alive. The "caring for" something or someone is a full time job and requires staying in and around the shelter, house all the time. And this is why the "caring for" was always the job of women. They "cared for" children, sick and wounded and young animals. Men "took care of" jobs that needed to be done, flocks, crops, land, and later towns, states...but with male duties the original meaning of "care for" was gradually lost and was turned into passive "worry" or active "manage"...And this is what we are left with today pretty much. We "care" for so many things, we even occasionally "take care of" as thing or two, but we rarely "care for" anyone or anything. 

Anyway, in the past, apart from caring for children, sick and wounded and young animals, women cared for another very important thing: fire. Fire in the house hearth was one of the most precious things which had to be constantly cared for, and never ever be allowed to die. This behaviour has been recorded by ethnographers everywhere in Evroasia even in the 20th century, and it comes to us straight from the Paleolithic, and maybe even Mesolithic times, when people didn't know how to make fire. Fire had to be found, a natural fire from a thunder strike or a forest fire, and then carefully preserved by caring for it. The caring for fire was so important that it was elevated to a level of a religious duty. Every household would care for their own house fire, but temples would would also care for the village or town fire which also should never have been allowed to die. Even after people discovered reliable ways of making fire, this belief in sacredness of fire and caring for fire remained in beliefs related to heath fire. 

So how do you care for fire? Well in exactly the same way you care for children, sick and wounded and the young animals. Basically caring for fire means keeping fire dry, warm, feeding it wood, cleaning it from ash, sheltering it from wind and rain, protecting it, making sure that nothing bad is done to it and that it doesn't do anything bad to itself and its surrounding (like burn the place down). The most important part of caring for fire is feeding it wood, basically keeping the fire alive, keeping it burning. 

In Slavic languages we have a word "kur" which means "to burn, to smoke, to heat":

Proto-Slavic kur - to burn, to smoke, to heat.
Church-Slavonic: коурити, коурити (kouriti), krada - fireplace, hearth
Russian: кури́ть ‎(kurítʹ) - to smoke (tobacco etc.), to burn, produce smoke by burning something, to distil, куре́ние ‎(kurénije) - smoking, incense
Ukrainian: кури́ти (kuriti) - to burn, produce smoke by burning something
Bulgarian: ку́рна (kurna) - to light up
Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian: ку́рити (kuriti) - to burn, to heat, to kindle, to persuade
Slovenian: kúriti - to burn, heat up
Czech: kouřit - to burn, produce smoke by burning something
Slovakian: kúriť - to burn, produce smoke by burning something
Polish: kurzyć, kurzę - to burn, produce smoke by burning something
Lusatian: kurić, kuriś - to burn, produce smoke by burning something

This word has cognates in:

Lithuanian: kùrti - to kindle, light up, heat up (kuriti, goreti - "to burn" in Slavic languages); kuriù - to heat up (kuri, gori u- "burns in" in Slavic languages); karštas - hot (gori šta - "which burns" in Slavic languages); krosnis - oven
Latvian: kurt - heat (kuri, gori tu (to)- "burns there"  (that) in Slavic languages)
Finish: hurja - fierce, fiery (kuri, gori - "burns" in Slavic languages)
Gothic: haúri - coal (kuri, gori - "burns" in Slavic languages)
Old Norse: hyrr - fire (kuri, gori - "burns" in Slavic languages)
Norman, Old French, Middle French: cuire, cuyre - to cook (kuri, gori - "burns" in Slavic languages)
Latin: cremo - I consume or destroy by fire, burn, I burn something to ashes; cremate, I make a burnt offering (kurim, gorim - "I burn" in Slavic languages); carbo - charcoal, coal (gorivo - "fuel" in Slavic languages)
Sanskrit: कृष्ण ‎(kṛṣṇa) - burnt, black

The above Slavic word "kur" to burn is another variant of the Slavic word "gor" meaning to burn, about which I already wrote in my post about warmth, fire, sun. Like the word "kur" the root "gor" also has cognates in other Indoeuropean languages, but it seems to be best preserved in Slavic languages and Irish.

Here is just an example group from this cluster from Serbian and Irish:


goraim -, I heat, warm, burn; bask; hatch.
gorim - warm
gor - warmth
garadh - warm 
goradh -  act of burning; blushing; heat; déan do ghoradh, take a shin heat, incubation, keeping warm
garamhail - useful, profitable, neighborly; warm, snug, friendly;
gorai - place where chicks come out of eggs
gríos - embers, hot ashes; heat; fire; pimples, blotches, spots or rash on the skin;
gríosach - aighe, pl. -acha, f., fire, burning embers; ashes containing small coals of fire; glowing
griosagh - fire


gori - burns; goreti = gori ti = it burns, to burn
gorim - I am burning
gori - burns
grejan, grijan - heated, warm
gorionik - burner, torch
gorešnjak - big heat, hot weather
gorotina - what burns, burned place
gariti - to burn, to rush, to go fast
nagariti - put branches into the fire, feed the fire
garište - place where the fire used to burn
zgarište - something burned down

zgoreljak - something burned

So we have the Indoeuropean root word "cur, gor" meaning "to burn, to make and keep warm". Compare this to the Latin word "cur, coir" meaning to "care for" Is it possible that these two words are connected? And is it possible then that the verb "to cure" meaning "to preserve by smoking" is related to the word "kur, gor" meaning "to burn, to smoke"? I think so. What do you think? 

Thursday 19 May 2016


People who live below high mountains, see only their side of the mountain. Most people are content with that view and believe that they know the mountain, that their view of the mountain is the mountain...When two people who live on opposite sides of the same mountain meet, they sometimes talk about "their" mountain not knowing that they are talking about the same mountain. And sometimes they even get into a fight over whose mountain is taller, bigger, more beautiful... 

People should hike more...Only through hiking, you can get to understand that even though there are many views of the mountain, and even though they are all different, they are all views of the same mountain...

Monday 16 May 2016

Ram and Bull

This is zodiac

Have you ever wondered why Aries (Ram) and Taurus (Bull) astrological signs are where they are on a solar circle? 

Aries (Ram) 21 March – 20 April

Taurus (Bull) 21 April – 21 May 

I can hear everyone say: "Because the constellations in the sky at that time look like ram and bull"!

Well wait till you hear this. 

The mouflon is a subspecies group of the wild sheep (Ovis orientalis). Populations of the wild sheep can be partitioned into the mouflons (orientalis group) and the urials (vignei group). The mouflon is thought to be one of the two ancestors for all modern domestic sheep breeds.

The aurochs, also urus, ure (Bos primigenius), is an extinct type of large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is the ancestor of domestic cattle. The species survived in Europe until the last recorded aurochs died in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland in 1627.

In the article "The Corsican Mouflon - and the EU Life Nature scheme" we read that the main lambing season for European wild mouflon, starts in March and lasts until May. 
In the article "Characteristic activity patterns of female mouflons (Ovis orientalis musimon) in the lambing period" we read that the wild European mouflon were monitored during their lambing season between the 1st of March to the 20th of April.

This means that the wild sheep main lambing season in Europe ended during the time of Aries (Ram or is it maybe Lamb) zodiac sign 21 March – 20 April. 

In the book "Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour of Wild Cattle: Implications for Conservation" by  Mario Melletti, James Burton we read that the main calving season for European wild bison starts in May with 80% of calves being born by the end of July and the rest being born by the end of September.
In the article "Strontium isotope tracing in animal teeth at the Neanderthal site of Les Pradelles, Charante, France. " by Tegan Kelly we read that wild aurochs calving occured in May-June. 

This means that the wild cattle main calving season in Europe started during the time of Taurus (Bull or is it maybe Calf) zodiac sign 21 April – 21 May.

Interestingly, in "Agroecological Practices For Sustainable Agriculture: Principles ...
edited" by Wezel Alexander and in "Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour of Wild Cattle: Implications for Conservation" by  Mario Melletti, James Burton we can read that the main aurochs mating season was most likely July to September. 

So summer, the part of the year symbolised by a bull starts with wild cattle calving and ends with wild cattle mating...

Today, lambing season starts in January and lasts until April and calving season is all year round, but this is not a natural thing. We people changed the natural cycles of animals through domestication because it suited us. But even today, with domesticated sheep, Aries is an important animal calendar marker. It marks the end of lambing season and the beginning of the milking season. I talked about this in my post "Aries must die"....

The first lunisolar calendars were created by our henge building Central European ancestors 7000 years ago. The reason for the creation of the lunisolar calendar is because it allows a reliable way of marking cyclical yearly events that happen in nature, particularly the events linked with agriculture. To be able to do this you need a static point on a solar circle, a point within the solar year, that you can reliably determine and which doesn't change. Once people were able to precisely determine the winter or summer solstice, they had that static point on the solar circle, and now they could plot all natural events that occur during the yearly cycle. 

I am sure that they soon noticed that the lambing season and the calving season always happens at the same time and they simply marked these periods with a lamb and a calf. And hey presto, Aries and Taurus were born...

I can hear you asking: "What about the stars"?

Well I believe that constellations were added much much later. But basically, when the constellations were chosen, they were chosen to look like already existing zodiac signs of Ram and Bull, and not the other way round. And when I say look like, I mean vaguely, very vaguely look like (or not at all) look like... :)

Here is the constellation of Aries:

Here is the constellation of Taurus:

See what I mean?

Neat don't you think? What do you think?

Friday 13 May 2016


This is honey.

Honey is a sweet food made by honey bees using nectar from flowers.

The English word honey comes from Middle English hony, honi, which comes from Old English huniġ, which in turn comes from proposed Proto-Germanic *hunagą. The words for honey in all the other Germanic languages as well as in Finish and Middle Welsh come from this root. The last two are probably borrowing from Germanic languages. Where does this root come from is a mystery, considering that pretty much all the other Indoeuropean languages have words for honey which are based on the two phonetically very similar proposed PIE roots: medu and melid.

Words for honey derived from the proposed PIE root medu:

Latvian: mȩdus
Lithuanian: medus
Old Prussian: meddo
Slavic: *mȇdъ
Ossetian: mud, myd
Sanskrit: mádhu
Hindi: madhu
Urdu: madhu
Malay: madu
Telugu: madhuvu
Romani mol, mod, mou
Tocharian B: mīt

The Indo-European word for honey was prehistorically borrowed into Finno-Ugric, compare Finnish and Estonian mesi, Hungarian méz. Also possibly borrowed into Chinese: 蜜 (OC *mit > mì, "honey"), possibly via Tocharian languages.

Words for honey derived from the proposed PIE root mélid:

Albanian: mjaltë
Hittite: militt, malitt
Luwian: mallit
Old Armenian: mełr
Breton: mel
Cornish: mel
Welsh: mêl
Irish: mil
Manx: mill
Scottish Gaelic: mil
Ancient Greek: méli
Latin: mel. You can see the words for honey languages descended from Latin here.
Gothic: miliþ

On top of all of the above honey words we have these words which mean mead or wine. Mead, an alcoholic drink created by fermenting honey with water is one of the oldest if not the oldest alcoholic drinks made by man. Mead predates wine by millenniums and this is why we find that the word for wine in many languages is derived from the root "med(u)" meaning honey which is found in Slavic, Baltic and Sanskrit and Sanskrit derived languages.

Slavic: med / miod , which means both "honey" and "mead"
Baltic: medus "honey", midus "mead"
Sanskrit: madhu - means both honey or sweet. It also means mead and alcohol.
Old Irish: mid - mead
Irish: miodh - mead
Gaulish: medu - mead
Breton: mez - mead
Cornish: medh - mead
Welsh: medd - mead
Ancient Greek: méthu - wine
Avestan: maδu  - wine
Bactrian: molo - wine
Persian: mol - wine
Old Persian: *madu - wine
Middle Persian: may - wine
Persian: mey -wine
Scythian: madu - wine
Sogdian: maδu - wine
Germanic: *meduz - mead. You can see the words for mead in Germanic languages here. How did Germanic languages acquire the word "mead" is a bit of a mystery considering the Germanic words for honey. Maybe this word was introduced through Gothic which borrowed it from Slavic languages during Chernyakhov culture period. Or maybe the word was borrowing from Celtic word for honey "medh", which funnily enough, again have the same root as the Slavic word for honey "med".

There is also an English word meadow. A meadow is a field or pasture; a piece of land covered with wild or cultivated grasses, usually intended to be mown for hay;

According to the etymological dictionary the word "meadow" comes from Old English mædwe "meadow, pasture," originally "land covered in grass which is mown for hay". This is an oblique case of the Old English mæd, Anglian med "meadow, pasture," from Proto-Germanic *medwo (cognates: Old Frisian mede, Dutch made, German Matte "meadow," Old English mæþ "harvest, crop"), from PIE *metwa- "a mown field," from root *me- "mow, cut down grass or grain"

But is it possible that the word meadow is somehow related to the Slavic and Celtic word for honey: med?

This is a meadow. What do you see on the picture below? Lots and lots and lots and lots of wild flowers. Where there are wild flowers, there are bees, collecting nectar to make honey, med. It is basically the meadows that give material for honey, and hence that give honey, produce honey. In Archaic Serbian "gives honey" is "med dava" = "medava" = meadow = the place that give us honey?

Is it possible that the Germanic word for mowing was derived from the word for grassy area and not the other way round? I would suggest that the word for a piece of land covered with grass developed before people invented scythe and started to mow grass...

Back to the Indoeuropean words for honey. Where do they come from? What are they derived from? Well officially the above two Proto-Indo-European roots are not linked. And we don't know what are they derived from.

Now what I would like to propose here is that there are actually no two PIE roots for honey but only one from which both of the above two roots are derived from. I would also like to propose here that this original single rood for all the Indoeuropean words for honey (except for the English and German one that is) is the Proto-Indo-European root "*h₁ed" meaning "to eat". This root is extremely old and have produced the verb "to eat" in all the old Indoeuropean branches:

Sanskrit  अत्ति ‎(atti), अद् ‎(ad) - to eat
Avestan ad - to eat
Latin edō ‎- I eat
Ancient Greek ἔδω ‎(édō) - I eat
Hittite (e-id-mi) - I eat
Old Armenian: ուտեմ ‎(utem) - to eat
Proto-Germanic *etaną (English to eat comes from this root) ‎- to eat
Old Church Slavonic eсти ‎(jasti) - to eat

Now in Serbian we have several different versions of the word for food which is derived from the verb to eat:

(j)edenje, (j)edja, (j)ed, (j)elo, (j)el, (j)estivo, (j)estija

But what does this have to do with the PIE root words for honey "melid" and "medu"?

Honey is made by bees. The bees found in Evroasia belong to the type known as western honey bee. Honey bees use caves, rock cavities and hollow trees as natural nesting sites. Members of other subgenera have exposed aerial combs. The nest is composed of multiple honeycombs, parallel to each other, with a relatively uniform bee space. It usually has a single entrance. Western honey bees prefer nest cavities approximately 45 litres in volume and avoid those smaller than 10 or larger than 100 litres. Western honey bees show several nest-site preferences: the height above ground is usually between 1 metre and 5 metres, entrance positions tend to face downward, South-facing entrances are favored, and nest sites over 300 metres from the parent colony are preferred. Bees usually occupy the nests for several years. Here is a typical entrance to the western honey bee nest built inside a hollow tree.

Now lets for a second put ourselves back into the position of our ancient Paleolithic ancestors. Even if they new about the existence of a bees nest in a tree trunk high above the ground or in a side of a cliff, they would have stayed as far away as possible from it. Why? Have you ever been stung by a bee? How about 100 bees? I have. NOT NICE :) Even if their curiosity would have led our ancestors to try to see what was inside these buzzing holes, they would have soon lost all enthusiasm for further investigation. Bees get very angry when someone starts poking around their nest, and angry bees have no problem in getting rid of nosy humans...Anyone who was bitten by bees, will stay away from bees. And will teach other people that bees are dangerous and that they too should stay away from bees. And people probably stayed as far as possible from bees nests as they could. Until they discovered honey that is. But how did our ancestors discover honey if they stayed away from the bee nests? The answer is bears.

Bees nests, positioned meters over the ground in thick tree trunks, with very narrow entrances and full of angry bees, would have, as I already said, made it quite difficult, if not impossible for our inquisitive ancestors to explore them. But none of the above made much problems to bears. Bears are great tree climbers. They also have very strong sharp claws, with which they can relatively easily widen the bee nest entrance. And they have a very thick skin and fur which protects them from bee stings.

An inquisitive bear would soon discover that bee nests contain lots of tasty larvae and something else, which is very much worth hard work of climbing the tree and scratching at the tree bark in order to enlarge the entrance into the nests, as well as a few (or even a lot) bee stings: honey.

Bears are omnivores like people. They will eat animals, insects and plants including fruits. Some of the wild fruits are deliciously sweet and flavorsome indeed, like wild berries. But honey...Among the wild foods, honey is in a league of its own. There is nothing really that compares to the taste of honey, nothing that comes even close to it. And the first inquisitive bear that tasted it would have become hooked on it straight away. And would have started actively looking for it. And would have taught his cubs how to find it and get it. And soon all the bears in the area and then all the bears in Evroasia would have learned how to find the bees nests, how to get into them, and how to get their paws on the honey. And would have become honey experts.

Now our inquisitive ancestors may not have been very interested in poking bees nests themselves, but being hunter gatherers, they would have seen bears fussing over them, clambering trees, scratching the hive entrance to make it wider and then scraping honeycombs full of larvae and honey and gobbling them up. After the bear would leave, at least one of our inquisitive ancient ancestors would have gone to the bees nest tree to see what was all the hullabaloo about. And there, he, or she would have found bits of honeycomb with traces of honey on it. And would have slowly and gingerly put this sticky sweet smelling stuff into his or her mouth. And.....

"mmmmmmmmm". This is a universally recognized sound which expresses pure physical pleasure. Two main things that trigger the "mmmmmm" reaction are sensual physical contact and food. When it comes to food triggered "mmmmmmm" reaction, there is nothing more "mmmmm" than the sweet food. Now imagine that you were this inquisitive ancestor of ours, who had just tasted his first honey. Until then his or hers choice of sweet food was quite limited. Few sweetish roots and fruit. And then honey. The ultimate prehistoric "mmmmmmmmmmm" food. Compared to other sweet foods available to our prehistoric ancestors, honey was so much more "mmmmmmmmm" that, as I already said, it was actually in the league of its own. Honey is so sweet it is intoxicating. And guess what. Our ancestor, just like the bear, was hooked on it straight away. 

Now what did our inquisitive ancestor do after the initial honey shock? Well he stuffed his face with every single bit that the bear missed. And then he clumbered the tree and stack his hand into the bees nest to get more of this magical sweet "mmmmmmmmmmmm" food. And he probably got stung few times, but what the heck, its honey we are talking about, who cares about few stings....

And then he or she would have gone home to his village and would try to tell his family and kinsmen what he or she has just discovered. And he or she would have tried to find the word which best described this new magical sweet intoxicating food. And he or she would have rubbed his belly and would have smacked his lips and would have smiled and would have probably said something like:

"I found "mmmmmmmmm" food! I found "mmmmmmmmm" food! I found "mmmmmmmmm" food!" 

Because really, there is no better way to describe honey but as "mmmmm" food. 

Now do you remember the Serbian words for food: (j)edenje, (j)edja, (j)ed, (j)elo, (j)el, (j)estivo, all descendants from the PIE root "*h₁ed"? Well I believe that the actual root was "*h₁e" with three variations: "*h₁ed" (jed, jedi, jedja, jedenje in Serbian), "*h₁el" (jel, jelo in Serbian) and "*h₁es" (jes, jesti, jestivo, jestija in Serbian) . 

What happens when we try to say "mmmmmmmmm" food in PIE using the above three derived roots "*h₁ed", "*h₁el" and "*h₁es"? 

"mmmm" + "*h₁ed" (mmmm + jed, jedja, jedenje in Serbian)
"mmmm" + "*h₁el" (mmmm + jel, jelo in Serbian)

And what we get is:

"mmmm" + "*h₁el" (mmmm + jed) - "m(j)ed(u)" - medu
"mmmm" + "*h₁ed" (mmmm + jel) - "m(j)el(id)" -  melid

Basically what we get are the exact two PIE roots for Indoeuropean honey words, basically both meaning "mmmmmm" food, "mmmmmm" eating...

The rest is history. People started actively looking for the "mmmmm" food, mjed, mjel, and what best way to find honey, but to learn from the honey experts: bears. They knew how to find bees nests, and how to get the honey out. And guess what is the Serbian (and all Slavic) word for bear? It is "medved". 

This word has two etymologies:

Real one: medv(u) + ed = honey + eat = honey eater
False (but common) one:  med + ved = honey + knowledge = "he who knows about honey, honey sage"... 

Interesting don't you think? It seems that Slavs are the only ones who in their languages preserved the memory of the time when bears served as honey guides to people of Northern Hemisphere. The role of honey guides was played by honey guide birds and honey badgers in Southern Hemisphere.  

Eventually people started looking for bees nests and raiding them without the help of bears. They used stone tools to hack at the bees nest entrance to widen it. They used gourds, baskets and pots o collect honeycomb. We don't know when this honey madness started, but we have evidence for hunting for honey from at least 8,000 years ago. A cave painting in Valencia, Spain shows two honey-hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee nest. The figures are depicted carrying baskets or gourds, and using a ladder or series of ropes to reach the wild nest which is inside of a hollow tree trunk.

Now people were of course attacked by bees during this honey acquiring enterprise. The pesky, buzzing, biting honey makers - bees. 

Eeeee, guess what the word for honey bee is in Serbian (and other Slavic languages)?

Serbian word for bee is "pčela" pronounced pchela. This word comes from the Proto-Slavic - bьčela

The etymology of this word is uncertain. There are two proposed option: 

The first proposed etymology says that the Slavic word for bee comes from bučati ‎(“to make noise, roar”) which produces *bъčela. A bee is, therefore, the one that makes noise. True. But a wasp (osa) also makes noise. A bumble bee (bumbar) makes even more noise. And hornet (stršljen) makes the most noise. And none of them is called the noisy insect. 

The second proposed etymology says that the Slavic word for bee comes from the North-West Proto-Indo-European *bʰi-kʷe- ‎(“bee, stinging insect”), which is an extension of the Indo-European root *bʰi- ‎(“to hit, strike, beat”). This is the same root that the English word "bee" comes from. But again wasp (osa), bumble bee (bumbar), hornet (stršljen), mosquito (komarac), fly (muva), flee (buva) also sting, bite, but they are not called biting insects.

I believe that the etymology of the Slavic word for bee is this:

(mpb)zzzz + el - buzzing + food = the buzzing thing, insect, that makes food. Have a listen to the sound of bees. It is a sound that sounds the most like (mpb)zzzz. And bees are the only insects that make food.

Another word for bee that makes the maker of food is the Greek word for a honey bee: "μέλισσα" (melissa). This word  comes from the word"μέλι" (meli) meaning "honey" and also means the maker, the producer, the giver of mmm food, honey. Let me explain why I believe that this is so.

In Serbian one of the words for sweet is "milo". The word "milo" comes from Proto-Slavic "*milъ", from Proto-Balto-Slavic *meiʔlos, from Proto-Indo-European *meyl. The words descended from this root are found in all Balto Slavic languages with the same meaning "nice, deer, sweet", and in Latin "mītis" ‎meaning "mild, mellow, mature, ripe; sweet, juicy, succulent" and Greek meília (couldn't find this word anywhere, so if anyone knows what this word is please let me know).

I believe that the word "milo" comes from the root mmmmm + jilo = mmmmm + food = honey = sweet. In some dialects of Serbian and Croatian the sound "e" in je, jes(ti), jel(o), jed(ja) becomes "i" (pronounced like ee in English). So we get ji, jis(ti), ji(lo), ji(dja). So the word mmmm jelo = mjelo = honey becomes mjilo = honey = sweet. This eventually becomes milo becuse this is easier to pronounce together. So this word is also descended from the same root as all the words for honey and mead we already discussed. Example of the honey words descended from the "mil" root instead of the "mel" root are Gaelic and Western Asian (Hittite and Luwian) words for honey, which all have root "mil":

Hittite: militt, malitt
Luwian: mallit
Irish: mil
Manx: mill
Scottish Gaelic: mil

Interesting link between Hittites, Irish and Western Balkans...Again.

In Serbia we have lots of names which are based on the root "mil" meaning "sweet: Milan, Milojko, Milosav, Milivoj, Milča, Milenko, Mila, Milica, Milena, Milka, Milosava..All of them basically mean sweet, cute, pretty and would have the same meaning as calling someone honey, sugar, sweetie.  Two most common names from this cluster are Milan (male) and Milica (pronounced Militsa, female). 

Now, as I already said, the Greek word for a honey bee "μέλισσα" (melissa) which comes from "μέλι" (meli) meaning "honey".

However I believe that "μέλισσα" (melissa) was originally melida = meli + da = honey + give, honey + giverr, producer and that development went from M(e)ilida --> M(e)ilitsa (Serbian) - M(e)ilisa...

The proof that this was probably the case is the fact that the word "μέλισσα" (melissa) has another version "μέλιττα" (melita). I believe that this was the original version of the Greek word for bee, which then became melisa through mispronunciation.

That there is a direct link between Serbian and Greek words based on the root words for honey preserved in Serbian, we can see from the Serbian word "melem" meaning "balm, balsam", something that is put on wounds to help them heal. In Serbian there is an expression "Kao melem na ranu" meaning "Perfect solution for a problem" but literally meaning "Like a melem on a wound". 

In Ancient Greek we have words "μελέτη, μελέτα" (melete, meleta) meaning  care, attention and "μέλημα" (melima) -meaning "object of care, beloved object, darling, concern". I believe that all these words come from "μέλι" (meli) meaning "honey". Why? Well the etymology for these Greek words will not tell you this. But the reason is because honey was once used as medicine, given to sick people who were cared for. Honey was even until the discovery of antibiotics also used for treating of wounds, so as a balm, balsam. So the link between the Greek word for honey and the Greek word for care seems to be preserved through Serbian word for balm, balsam...

On the "World wide wounds" page we read:

"Honey is an ancient remedy for the treatment of infected wounds, which has recently been 'rediscovered' by the medical profession, particularly where conventional modern therapeutic agents are failing. There are now many published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process; there is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. However, further research is needed to optimise the effective use of this agent in clinical practice."

That the word for honey is directly derived from the word for food and eating, and that that word is very very old, can be seen from the fact that many words for honey from "Non Indoeuropean" languages also seem to come from the same old root "jed, jel, jes" meaning food, eating. 

In Basque the word for honey is "ezti", "eztia". In Serbian (and in other Slavic languages) this word means "to eat, food" (jesti, jestija in Serbian). 

In Sudanese the word for honey is "madu". Sudan is the place where we find a lot of R1b people, descendants of the Indoeuropean speaking invaders. No wonder that the word for honey is based on the same old "mmmm+ed" root.  

In Tajik: asal, Arabic: aslja, asal, Swahilli: asali all mean honey. Do they come from jes + slad = food + sweet?

In Turkish: bal, Mongolian: bal, Kazakh: bal, Azerbaijani: bal all mean honey. Do they come from mmmm + jel = sweet + food?

And how about this: These are Egyptian hieroglyphs for honey bee and honey:

The word used for both is the same: bjt (or bit). Now is this basically the shorthand of the same construct found in Slavic "pčela": bzz + je (i) + da = buzing + eating + gives (alternatively t - feminine ending in old Egyptian)? How come we find these Indoeuropean roots in Egyptian language? R1b people again i would suspect. 

Apparently this Egyptian word could be related to Latin "apis" ‎(“bee”) for which the etymology is uncertain. The proposed root for apis is from Proto-Indo-European "*a(m)pi" meaning ‎(“stinging insect; bee”). From this same root apparently also get the Proto Germanic root "imbijaz" meaning "bee, bee swarm"....Is it possible that the root here  again is: je + mmmm + bzzz  (or bi) = eat + mmmm + buzzing or stinging = stinging insect that makes yummmmmmmy food?

Is this all just a coincidence? If not, how old are these words? How and when did they develop if we find them in all these Non Indoeuropean languages? Well I obviously don't think that this is all a coincidence. As for the age of these words, I would propose that they come to us from at least Mesolithic or early Neolithic, from the time when people started collecting honey for the first time. The words were probably developed by the then forest dwellers of the Balkans and Western Asia possibly during the last glacial maximum. The same population then preserved these words until today, passing them on to everyone they came in contact with. Was this I2a or R1 population? Not sure, but definitely was one of these two because this would explain the existence of all these ancient roots in Slavic and particularly South Slavic languages. I believe that here we have a true linguistic fossil. Again :)

So this is it. What do you think? Interesting? I think so. But believe or not it gets even better. In my next post I will discuss the link between the bees and the development of the first human civilizations which organizationally strangely resemble beehives. And who venerated the Mother Earth in her Goddess of love incarnation, Venus, as the bee goddess....

Until then, have fun...