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Within the realm of Indo-European an important find in analysis and comparison of languages has been the observation that there is a number of roots that are common to Latin and Germanic tongues, but with the characteristic that these roots begin with “C” in Latin and “H” in Germanic.
Perhaps on the trail of enthusiasm, the two groups of languages were defined as :


                                 “centum-languages” and “hundred-languages".




The risk this approach has created was that scholars began to see a limited phenomenon as a rule. And considering thus a rule like :

“Latin C corresponds with Germanic H”,

has led several people up the wrong trail.


One of the most spectacular erratic conclusions has been that there was no direct relationship between Latin “habere” and German “haben”. The two words have absolutely the same element, “HAB” and the same meaning “TO HAVE”, and this indicates a perfect kinship. For the record, “TO HAVE”, “HABEN” and their Germanic sisters are seen as derived from the root “CAP”, in Latin “CAPERE”, “TO TAKE”. Thus “to have” is seen as the result of “to take”.


The interesting thing is that the conclusion that "capere" and "haben" are related, in itself can be right. Only that there are some steps in between. And , as we said, “TO HAVE” and “HABEN” are sisters of Latin “HABERE”, but both “HABERE” and “CAPERE” are related to the Hebrew roots “KAP = (palm of the) HAND” and hypothetical “*HAV = TO HOLD”. We will deal with this more in detail in another text. See chapter ( To have, hold and love)



Meanwhile we should like to make an approach to the real situation in Latin. In a normal good Latin dictionary we have looked for the number of roots that begin with "C” and those that one can find beginning with “H”. To define the number we have considered only one word of groups of words that are based on one and the same root. Our findings are related in the annexed figure.






The aforementioned brief lists merit some further comment regarding the following words . We are aware of the fact that for the etymology of some of these words exist quite different theories , to which we do not think we can agree .



The example seems very interesting . The Latin word means “ young goat” , but accordingly also “ he-goat “, with the adjective “haedinus “ saying “ of the buck ( he-goat )". For the young goat there is also the diminutive “ *haediolus “ , as well as “ haedulus “ later on .


Similarity number E 0499 Hebrew 0351 shows a comparison between Hebrew and Germanic . There we see a striking similarity between Danish and Hebrew, but also what we see as the particular development of two different words , one for “ goat “ and one for its “kid “ , out of one root .



There is also the Latin adjective “ hesternus “ and the adverb “ hesterno “, that are more clearly related to the Germanic words, like German “ gestern “. “Heri” is considered to be a development of “ * hesi “, probably because of the word “ hesternus “. The final vowel “I” would be a “ locative “, a placing “ in time “ in this case .



Our supposition is that there has been a metathesis , that made Greek “χθές , ghthès" and "εχθές , eghthès , yesterday “ differ more from the stem “* gest “ as found in Germanic words .


An extra vowel as found in front of the second version of the Greek word is not uncommon in that language . It can be added without changing the meaning like the ε in εχθές , but also to turn it around as in many words beginning with an α στερητικος , steritikos ( privative or negative ). In other cases the vowel, mostly an aleph as well, will confirm, reinforce, add to the meaning or sum it up. It is then called αθροιστικος , athroistikos .



“Caelum" gives problems . It has the same meaning as German “Himmel” and English “ heaven “, but the similarity in sound is far off. The same goes for Avestan “asmānәm“ with its double meaning “ stone “ and “ heaven “. It seems that this is based on the concept of “ stone heaven “, or the idea that the heavens are made of stone . Greek άκμων meant “anvil “ and not “ heaven “, though there exists the supposition that in archaic times a stone with the name “akmon” was pending from heaven . We consider such an origin not too probable, because the same word means also “ mallet “.


For the word “caelum” as such no reasonably convincing etymology has been found. The same goes for German “ Himmel “ and all its Germanic sisters . English “ heaven “ and its predecessor, Old English “ heofen” or “ heofon” are no better off.


Yet there exists some very interesting reasoning , like the one that sees” Himmel “ as a cognate of English “ hammer “. In Old Norse “hamarr “ meant simply “ hammer “, but also “ stone “. In the far past hammers were made of stone, and this may explain this matter . But Old Norse for “heaven” did not use "hamarr", but the specific term “ himinn “. Germanic words for “ heaven “ have in common that they begin with “ H “ , and many have also a second consonant “ M “. Quite a few have also the same third consonant, an “ L ” . We should like to make a comparison with a similar Hebrew root:


The root “ ח מ ל , GH . M . L “ in Hebrew indicates the concepts of “ compassion “ , “ mercy “ and “ indulgence “. If the people who chose to speak of “ Himmel “ considered it just the sky, there would be no link in meaning. If instead they were thinking of G.d living there, some relation between the heavens and compassion or indulgence exists. But we have no further indication that H.M.L. or something like it would be related to the mentioned Hebrew root.






Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: Friday 31 May 2013 at 21.27.21