Etymology of land, lingua... origins of Latin?

This is part of a message from the mac.advocacy newsgroup, in which the author was attempting to make fun of someone whose last name is Lund. The interesting part to me is the claim that the English ‘land’ derives from a Hindi word for penis, and that the word ‘lingua’ derives from another Indian word for penis.

“You know that ‘lund’ means ‘penis’ in Hindi. It’s very amusing because in ancient times the ground was the penis of Shiva and the sky was his consort Parvati and the union between them creates life on earth. And the Indian word ‘lund’ enters European languages as ‘land’. Another Indian word for penis is ‘lingam’ and that enters Romance languages as ‘lingua/lengua’ which means ‘tongue’. Isn’t this all very naughty?”

My dictionaries say lingua is a Latin word meaning tongue, and that land is thought to derive from a prehistoric Germanic word apparently meaning “particular enclosed place.” I posted that in a response, and the author came back with this:

Because of the migrations out of northern India from around 1800 BCE, many words from different ancient Indian dialects have entered different ways into the later historical Latin and Germanic dialects (don’t believe in that proto-Indo-European nonsense). It’s very complex and would take me quite a while to explain how lingam evolved into lingua and how lund evolved into land. In Scandinavian dialects it still remains as ‘lund’. If you want, you can check out the various cosmologies relating to the sexual union of Shiva
and Parvati and also the Shiva Lingam motif. They give at least some hint as to the etymologies of lingua and land.

Forget the cosmologies and sexual union junk. I’m interested in whether Latin, German, and Scandanavian languages are believed to have derived from Hindi (or other Asian/Indian languages).

Or, more to the point: did Latin derive from another known language or languages? What about prehistoric Germanic languages?

– Mike –

I’m not a linguist, but I think your poster destroys his own credibility when he says:

There are links between the European languages and some of the languages of the Indian sub-continent. Most of the theories suggest there was a proto-Indo-European language group, somewhere in Central Asia, and that some moved south to India and some moved west to Europe. The languages grew apart, but there still are links of grammar and vocabulary.

The links were first noticed by an English judge in India, around the end of the 18th century, who did some notable comparative studies between Sanskrit (the predecessor language to Hindi) and Latin and Greek. He put forward the theory that the languages were related, which I believe had been generally accepted. However, that is not the same as saying that Hindi has directly influenced Latin and Germanic languages in the way your poster suggests.

He’s…well, kind of right. And kind of wrong, too.

Most of the European languages, as well as languages in a broad arc across Asia Minor to the Indian subcontinent, are related. The family is called Indo-European. There are several sub-families, as well, derived from older Indo-European languages. For example, the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Romansch, Rumanian) are developed from Latin. The Germanic languages (German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English, Frisian, Icelandic) are derived from a proto-German. The Indic languages (Hindi-Urdu, Bengali, and some others I can’t dredge up right now) are derived from Sanskrit. The Slavic languages (Russian, the Balkan languages, Polish) are from a proto-Slavic. Greek, Persian, and Turkish are also I-E.

There are a lot of similarities between these languages, although it may not look like it at first. With allowance made for vowel and consonant shifts, they’re remarkably alike in their root vocabulary. And they’re all highly similar when compared to unrelated languages like Hebrew or Finnish.

But native words in German or English don’t “come from” Hindi or even Sanskrit. And not all native words in any of these languages correspond to every other one. The languages in question separated several tens of thousands of years ago, and probably a majority of the vocabularies involved are younger than that split.

Just a little codicil to my last post to correct something. Turkish is not Indo-European. It’s Altaic, and is sometimes grouped with Finnish and some Baltic languages in the Ural-Altaic family.

My bad… :frowning:

Good post, except for the Turkish thing (which you’ve corrected) and the above. PIE (Proto-Indo-European) split up around 5 to 6 thousand years ago, maybe a bit more.

This is long before anyone wrote down a word in any language, and so is a result of glottochronology. It’s an inexact science, so we can’t pin it down to better than about a thousand year period.

Oops, not quite. Sumerian and Egyptian were being written down then, but not much else. Certainly not PIE or any of its offspring.

  1. Words that don’t look or sound much alike can still be eymologically related. English “tongue” and Latin “lingua” come from the same IE root.

  2. words that do sound and look alike can be etymologically unrelated. For example, “lark” (the bird) and “lark” (a sport or trick) are probably unrelated. There is an Indic word “linga” or “lingam” that is a phallic representation of the god Siva. But as far as I can tell, it is unrelated to Latin “lingua.” In fact, the oldest Latin texts have the word as “dingua”, not “lingua”. The change of the initial letter was apparently influenced by the verb lingere, “to lick”.

The oldest known IE texts are from Hittite (about 3,900 B.P), Vedic Sanskrit (about 3,800 B.P), and Linear B, an early form of Greek (about 3,600 B.P). These dates are only estimates.

bibliophage writes:

Might could be. But the change of initial /d/ to /l/ in Latin is fairly common (cf. PIE *daiwer- and Latin levir). It is, I think, an isogloss that differentiates Italic and Celtic.

Yes, “lingua” is widely accepted to come from “dingua” and is related to the English word “tongue”. Another case of this is Latin “lacrima” which is related to Greek “dakru” meaning “tear” as in teardrop.

There is indeed unfortunately a lot of erroneous and frivolous information out there about language.

Btw, bibliophage (although it’s hard to argue with a name like that!), I wouldn’t put the Vedic oral tradition back quite that far. You’d also have to take into account the fact that the Vedic texts probably weren’t written down until the 1st millenium BCE.