Saturday, 23 August 2014

etymology of ravens and crows

It just occurred to me that raven and crow are the same word.


Grimm’s law allows h <-> k/c/g between Latin and Germanic; here are some examples:

heart -> card (cardiac)  (h -> c)

garden (yard) -> hortis (horticulture) (g -> h)

hundred -> cent (century) (h -> c)

Examples of lenition (softening) of gutturals or stops in Germanic occurs in similar examples:

Ich (German)

Ik (Dutch)

Ek (Afrikaans)

Ic (Old English)

I (modern English)


Take old English Hraefn or Norse Hravn for Raven. Icelandic pronounces Hr as Kr. Similarly, assuming the H was pronounced and gradually lenited till it disappeared in modern English, we have Kravn -> Raven

But look.

Latin has Corvinus for Crow. (Crvn) Compare this now to the Kravn above.

Yet the Grimm’s law h->k/c shows that Corvin -> Horvin or Hrovin.

Crow and Raven are the same word from presumably a proto Indo European *Korvin or similar.

Now, how is Crow the same as Latin Corvinus? This is easy. Swapping letters around is commonplace; think of “third” vs “three”, or German “Durch” vs English “Through” (OE: Thurh). Thurh in Old English in particular gives three change examples: D in German to Th in English; UR/RU swap; and lenition of the guttural German CH to H in English. So… take Crow in English. W/V/U are interchangeable across Europe under Grimm’s law… (remember: V is actually just latin U, and W is called “double u," not "double vee")… so we get Crov. Then swap OR/RO like in Through/Durch or Three/Third… (OE: Thri; Thrid)… result: Corv; the Latin stem.

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