Sunday 4 December 2016

From your hands

In Serbian the word "ruka" means "hand, arm". This is Slavic only word, borrowed by Latvians and Lithuanians. The expression "iz ruke" means "from the hand". You take something that someone is giving you from his hand. The expression "iz ruku" means "from the hands". You take something that someone is giving you from his hands. To give something, you need to "let go of it", "let it out of your hand" which in Serbian is "iz ruke" = from the hand, "iz ruku" = from the hands, or if you are an "uneducated peasant" you would say "iz rukama" = from the hands

But today while browsing the Sumerian dictionary, as you would :) , I came across this: Sumerian: ISRUK = Gave (he gave) ISRUKAM = Gave (he gave to me)

I also found this word:


NADANU = Give, Give (to pay)

In Serbian when an "uneducated peasant" wants to give you something, especially whey he has to give it to you grudgingly, like for instance when he has to give you money, he will often say to you "na!" meaning "here you go", "here it is", "take it". The word "na" also means "to, at, of" so in South of Serbia "uneducated peasants" would say "podaj to na njega" meaning "give this to him".

Once the thing is given, in Serbian it is "dan (M), dana (F), dano (N)" meaning "given".

Now the Slavic verb "dati" meaning "to give" comes from Indoeuropean root "deh₃-". But how many non Slavic languages have word "na" with the above meaning?

And what the hell are these words doing in Sumerian???

Any plausible explanation anyone?


  1. It's a good question)) By the way, from the Sumerian NADANU is stemming the Hebrew נְדוּניָה (nedunjA) — «endow/dowry».

  2. The Slavonic "ruka" is coming from Proto-Slavic *rǫka, from *ronka, from *ronkā, from PIE *wronkeh₂, from *wrenk- «collect, pick, rake».

    1. Evgeny, i know about the official etymology, but I don't agree with it. I think that ruka (roka, raka in some Slavic dialects) has more to do with raklja, raslja in Serbian and rake in English. Look at the shape of all these things. I don't see how you can derive this from wrenk. The only reason you have this as the official root is because of Lithuanian: rankà which could be just a mangled borrowing

    2. I see what you mean. By the way, here is official etymology of rake - "toothed tool for drawing or scraping things together," Old English raca "rake," earlier ræce, from Proto-Germanic *rak- "gather, heap up" (source also of Old Norse reka "spade, shovel," Old High German rehho, German Rechen "a rake," Gothic rikan "to heap up, collect"), from PIE *reg- (1) "move in a straight line" (source also of Greek oregein "to reach, stretch out," Latin regere "direct, rule; keep straight, guide;" see regal), perhaps via its action, or via the notion of "implement with straight pieces of wood" [Watkins].

    3. Problem is the rake is not made with straight pieces of wood. First rake was ruka, hand at the end of and arm. In Serbian ruka means both hand and arm. So ruka (raka) - rake. Rake being imitation of arm - hand (ruka) is made to resemble arm - hand: long handle (ruka) with bent pieces of wood shaped like bent fingers of a hand (ruka) which is ready to scratch or snatch. In Serbian greb (scratch) and grab (snatch). These words I believe have lots of cognates in other Indoeuropean languages. Scratching then became root for scribbling as first writing was scratching... Same position of the hand, same root for words...We have to look at functional aspects of objects and actions when we are analyzing words and their etymologies.

    4. we still have a word "račiti" (to treat)

  3. A rake has tines/fingers which take; cf. tlaca (Aztec) = attach/detach.

    Endow (English) & endo (Greek) from endu (Bambuti) = into mother's dome hut.

    Every language is but a leaf on one tree/trunk/ruka.

  4. Well, if it isn't Indo-European, which a Sumerian word shouldn't be, and, since it is a basic vocabulary word, rather than something that would have been encountered from the outside, it must be a substrate word from whatever non-Indo-European language was spoken in Serbia before the Indo-Europeans arrived -- probably in the same macro-linguistic family as Sumerian. I would look to see if there are Greek words that could come from the pre-Greek substrate there, Hattic words from pre-Hittite Anatolian, or Caucasian language words where a word with the same source could also be present. If so, you could be onto a wider first wave Neolithic, pre-Indo-European linguistic substrate with an expanse that extended probably to the Vinca people as well as the Anatolians and Mesopotamians.

    1. I think we need to seriously consider the existence of much older Indoeuropean language than Sumerian and Accadian which lent some words to these languages but retained roots of these words. Sumerians did not live in isolation. They were a coalition of city states, so they could be a conglomerate of people of various origins and languages...One official written language, many spoken ones. We have that even today in many places...

  5. Hattic seems a poor fit. and Elamite (which could have borrowed words from Sumerian) also doesn't look very promising nor do the few surviving words of Dacian. Kassite looks a bit more promising although the correspondences aren't as clear cut. Hurrian not so much

  6. Some scholarly references that might help (especially [23] which discusses in fine detail Hurrian-Sumerian lexical sharing and the mechanism and cultural context that could have been involved):
    [20] I.M. Diakonoff, "The early Trans-Caucasian culture" (1984) (suggesting a demise of the culture ca. 2000 BCE).
    [21] Edens, Christoper, "Transcaucasia at the End of the Early Bronze Age" (Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research Aug–Nov 1995) (suggesting a demise of the culture ca. 2700-2600 BCE).
    [22] Mariya Ivanova, "Kaukasus und Orient: Die Entsthung des "Maikop-Phanomens" im 4. Jahrausend .Chr.", 87(1) Prahistorische Zeitschrift 1-28 (2013) (in German) (abstract translated at Dienekes Anthropology Blog).
    [23] Alexei Kassian, "Lexical Matches between Sumerian and Hurro-Urartian: Possible Historical Scenarios" (Cuniform Digital Library Journal Preprint October 3, 2014).
    [24] Arnaud Fournet, "The Kassite Language In a Comparative Perspective with Hurrian and Urartean" (The Macro-Comparative Journal 2010).
    [25] Konstatine Pitskhelauri, "Uruk Migrants in the Caucuasus", (6(2) Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences 2012)

  7. Or maybe ancient Greek "κίρκος" (circle) comes from "krǫtiti" (to turn, to twist, to twirl), "k" (to) + "rǫtiti" (to use hand), "rǫka" (hand).