E 0081 BEAR

The word " bear " is of Germanic origin .

H 0707 א ר פ

Concept of root : bear as wild animal

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

א ר פ

par’

living in the wild

Related English words

bear

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

א ר פ

par’

living in the wild

p . r (‘)

English

bear

bear

b . r

German

Baer

br

bear

b . r

Dutch

beer

br

bear

b . r

Old Norse

bjǿrn

byurn

bear

b y . rn

 

 

Proto-Semitic *PAR'À --- *BĒR Indo-European

 

 

This entry is related to E 0071 (Hebrew 0261) , in which we also refer to the "bear".

 

This entry is also related to E 0081 (Hebrew 0706) , that refers to the animal "boar".

 

The common position is that the Germanic words for "bear" come from those for the color "brown". A "bear" would have been named "the brown one", because the Germanics were "afraid" (!) of calling the animal by its real name. No evidence exists about any Germanic word different from "bear", but as the reasoning goes, it should have been like Latin "ursus" or Greek "arktos, arkos" because per definition Indo-European would have had one word for one animal. We really cannot see a basis for any of the elements of this reasoning.

 

It is our opinion that the name of the "bear" has to do with the habitat where it not only lived but of which it was an impressive and important representative. The bear was named "The One in the Wild".

 

 

Note:
  • Greek "αρκος , arkos" and "αρκτος , arktos" both mean "bear". It is hard to say which of the two came first, but very probable is their relation with Old Indian "rksa-" , Avestan "arsha" and Armenian "arzj" for "bear" as well as with Middle Irish "art" = bear". We would try to find an indication for the origin of the Greek name for "bear" in other words that recall some of its characteristics. Bears have the habit of easily tearing up things with their claws.

     

    They do so with anything they eat other than honey. But before touching the honey they still tear apart the beehive. And Greek has roots "R K", pronounced with a vowel A : "RAK", and "R G" pronounced with ‘E, that mean " to tear up" and "to lacerate". It would be quite Greek to form a noun out of such a root by placing an A in front of it : "arktos".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic is supposed to have had the same root one sees in Hebrew "*פ ר א , P R Aleph". It is found both in Arabic and Akkadian, where it is used to indicate another typically wild animal, the fascinating onager. This last word is not Semitic and it comes from Greek "οναγρος , onagros, a contraction of onos agrios = wild ass". "Onos" is an old word, used in Mycenaean.

 

Note:
  • English in Old English had "bera".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic . The words that are found in older Germanic languages clearly indicate that the name of the "bear" has little or rather nothing to do with the colour brown. Old English "bera", Old High German "bero", Middle High German "br, br", Middle Low German "bare, bar, bere", Middle Dutch "bere, beer, bare" must lead to the hypothesis of "*B A R" changing over to "*B Ē R", with variations with a final vowel, dull "E" or "A". The Nordic word "bjrn" is already found in Old Norse and seems a bit puzzling, but then we see "bera" used for "female bear", and the word for the male bear might be a specific Nordic development. It is in fact explained as such : a hypothetical Germanic word, that has the basic part or root "ber" , followed by two suffixes: "*bernunz" that through a metathesis has given "björn".

 

Note:
  • Russian. For a comparison with Hebrew it is interesting to consider the Russian word "зверь, zwerj = wild beast, animal, savage animal ". The initial "Z" probably is a prefix. The origin of this word then lies indeed in "B E R-". Scholars tell that "зверек, zwerek" is used as a parallel to "медведь, mjedwjedj" the common name for "bear" in Russian, that is said to be related to "mjed" which is "honey"! It has a predecsssor in Old Church Slavonian "medvedi.

 

Note:
  • Indo-European. Regarding bear: In Indo-European languages there are names for bears that are quite different from the word "bear". Latin has "ursus", Greek "arktos" and they have sister words in Old Indian, Avestan, Celtic (Old Irish "art") and Armenian. All these words, probably also including Latin "ursus" have a common origin in Indo-European. The original form will have had "*A R G/K-" that in harmony with "satem-centum" changed into "*A R T/S". It was then related to Greek "agros" in the old meaning of "wild , uninhabited grounds".

     

    But besides this there is some more indication for the origin of the word "bear" in Indo-European.

     

    Proto-Germanic" in our view had "*B Ē R-

     

    Old Indian also had "bhalla-gh = bear", with an "LL" derived out of " R " and supposedly developed out of an earlier "*bher-n".

     

    Slavic with a root "B E R" for "wild animal" also in other tongues, probably had this "B Ē R-", even if it did not specify "bear", but "wild animal". This is in harmony with the exposed line of thought.

     

    Indo-European possibly had "*B Ē R-" for "wild animal", with the species not or not always defined.

     

    We further quote the Note from E 0071 (Hebrew 0261) :

     

  • Indo-European. Regarding " Pork, Fearh (Old English):

     

    Balto-Slavic. Old Church Slavonic has a prefix "Ve" in "veprj", continued in Russian "вепрь, veprj = wild boar", with sister words in other Slavic tongues and Latvian "vepris", which indicates a Balto-Slavic "*VE PR-". The function of the prefix "ve" seems a confirming one.The vowel between the consonants "P" and "R" has been absorbed.

     

    There is though another group in Baltic, with Old Prussian "parstian = (young) swine", Lithuanian "parshas = castrated swine" and "parshelis = (young) pig", to which probably may be added in Slavic : Old Bulgarian, Chech and Serbian "prase = pig", as well as Russian "поросенок, poroshonok = (young) pig". This indicates a Balto-Slavic without prefix, with "A": "P Ă R-".

     

    But then Russian still has, again without that prefix, the word "боров, borov = boar". This word is very interesting , as it seems to be based on "бор , bor = pinewood", the typical wild environment where in Eastern Europe large animals could be found. Then we also note the word "боровой, borovoy = growing in a pinewood. Further a pine-mushroom is called a "боровик, borovik = pine-mushroom" . And do boars eat them! This brings us very near our original supposition, in which the "boar" and the "bear" have received their "titles" as "those who live in the wild".

     

    It also shows that besides the mentioned Balto-Slavic "*VE PR-" there probably were two forms without prefix, "B Ō R-" and P Ă R-.

     

    Celtic with Gallic "orco-" and Middle Irish "orc = young swine", may be related and would in that case have abolished the initial labial, but this is not sufficiently clear.

     

    Indo-European, on the basis of the mentioned information, may have had "*B Ē R-", though a "P Ă R-" is very probable, while also a "B Ă R-" and even "P Ē R-" are possible. In Indo European there may have been a tendency towards differentiation ,opting for a vowel "E" for swines and a vowel "A" for bovines. But such a choice, if it has existed, has not been followed to the end if we see for example Dutch "varken = pig". The (re-)introduction of a vowel " Ă " or as in Latin "Ŏ" may be connected to the extension of the root with a final K-sound, used to diversify towards tamed swines.

     

    Anyhow the complicated picture indicates that on the basis of old roots "*P . R" and "*B . R" that referred, both in Semitic and in Indo-European, to various types of wild grounds, names were given to important animals living there, again both in Semitic and Indo-European. Latin, Greek and Balto-Slavic used the same original roots to create a general name for "wild animal", Germanic and Hebrew , but also Latin and others, used those roots in the names of specific animals.

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 19/11/2012 at 11.29.40