Thursday, February 07, 2008


Ishinan wrote:

(Part of a series of investigations reexamining aspects of the relationship between IE and Semitic by considering in detail, derivations of words for tree in both IE and Semitic.)
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It is said that sacred groves were a feature of the mythological landscape and the cult practice of various Indo-European cultures. From the "brahmAraNya" the sacred grove in which the Veda was studied, to the legend of Durantia, queen of the Druids. The root of her name, drus, means "oak", and links her with oak trees and Druids.
Augustine's first meeting with British bishops is said to have occurred in a sacred grove. Bede recounts in book II chapter 2 that Augustine was faced with religious missions struggling with periods of relapsed paganism. His obvious selection of a sacred grove as a meeting place was meant originally to placate the Celtic hierarchy under his domination. Despite his efforts, he failed. However, over time, the Roman church gradually won over most of the potentates by embracing many of the Celtic pagan rituals and symbols. Hence, St Columba established the monastery of Dearmach in a sacred grove in harmony with ancient Celtic practices.
Parallel to the Indo-European features and practices connected to sacred groves, the Ancient Near East equally had its share of similar cults connected to groves.

As a matter of fact, groves in the Semitic world were mentioned in connection with various religious worship. In this respect, early Semites consecrated groves to particular gods, and for this reason they were forbidden to the Jews in the Old Testament (Jer. 17:3; Ezek. 20:28).
Ezek. 20:28 - For when I had brought them into the land, which I lifted up My hand to give unto them, then they saw every high hill, and grove, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering, there also they made their sweet savor and there they poured out their drink-offerings.
The Hebrew word used for grove in the OT was 'elon, which was uniformly rendered as grove or plantation. In Gen. 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; 12:6; Deut. 11:30; Josh. 19:33 ( In the Revised Version it is rendered, pl., "oaks" ). Groves also featured prominently in pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. Groves at that time, were looked upon as small gardens of Eden. It is no wonder that they became the inspirations of Arabian poets .
'Imrw' al-Qays (1), the most distinguished poet of pre-Islamic Arabia and author of one of the seven odes in the famed collection of gahiyliyah poetry Al-Mu`allaqat, once said:

Like a grove of palm trees, or like Yathrib's (2) paradise garden.
In Classical Arabic, the term used to depict a grove is grb-h. The base meaning of the Arabic term is a place of seed produce in which fruit trees grow.
Compare with
GROVE –noun 1. a small wood or forested area, usually with no undergrowth: a grove of pines. 2. a small orchard or stand of fruit-bearing trees, esp. citrus trees: a grove of lemon trees. or a group of trees planted and cultivated for the production of fruit or nuts: an orange grove. O.E. graf , from P.Gmc. *graibo-, but not found in other Gmc. languages and with no known cognates anywhere.
Akin to graf in Anglo-Saxon is græafa which has a slightly different meaning as thicket or a thick or dense growth of shrubs, bushes, or small trees. (see attached OED example: We made speed through greves and groves [translated in Latin as: per dumeta et silvas] toward the high mountains).
Incidentally, parallel to the OE, græafa is the Arabic Classical term ghryf which equally stands for thicket (or a collection of tangled trees) see attached JPEG:
Feb. 06, 2008
(1) 'Imrw' al-Qays ibn Hudjr Ibn al-Harith al-Kindiy is the 6th century Arab poet, acknowledged as the most distinguished poet of pre-Islamic times and author of one of the seven odes in the famed collection of pre-Islamic poetry Al-Mu`allaqat. 'Imrw' al-Qays was the youngest son of Hudjr, the last king of Kindah, an ancient Arabian tribe that originated from the area west of Hadramaut region in Southern Arabia. They were the first to attempt to unite various tribes around a central authority in central Arabia.
(2) Yathrib, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Ptolemy, is the oasis known as Lathrippa cf Iathrippa of Stephanus Byzantinus (modern Medina). In ancient Arabia, Yathrib's groves were renown for their lush growth of the date palms, olive trees, and other fruit trees.

Andis Kaulins replied:

I think Latvian gives us a clue as to why cognates of the term "grove" with the alleged P.Gmc. root *graibo- are not found in other Germanic languages, and also not anything close beginning in "g" in Latvian. In Latvian the cognate term is going to be the root krum- viz *krumiba meaning "bushes, shrubs, brushwood, shrubbery, underwood, thicket", so that *krumiba > grumba >gruba > grove.

Since I am a believer in the Out of Africa theory of humanity, it is interesting to look at Tswana Bantu tɬʰàrÉ©, Bukusu Bantu sààlà, Yao Bantu téélá, all meaning "tree" , Bukusu Bantu sààlà "forest", and Bukusu Bantu sìrù - "bush".

The terms for "branch" are very similar in all of the Bantu languages and similar to Yao Bantu ʤáámbí.

- see

Interesting here is that the Bantu words for "wood" are similar to Latvian kok- (pronounced kuok) "wood, tree". Asu Bantu has kwí,
Bemba Bantu has kúní, Kinyamwezi Bantu has kwìí, Koyo Bantu has kóɲì, Rumanyo Bantu has kûnì, Bukusu Bantu has , Tswana Bantu has χʊÌ�Å‹Ì�(compare Tswana qÊ°wà "forest" and Koyo Bantu kÉ"Ì� "forest" , i.e. "woods"), and Yao Bantu has kwí.
The Lega Bantu use sálÉ© as their term for wood, which other tribes use as seen above as the terms for tree or bush.
- see

one also finds a cognate at Bantu Basaa kék "stick" and some similar other terms at

The Bantu Bukusu òòlà or Kinyamweszi gÊŠÌ�lÇŽ "bark (of a tree)" and similar Bantu terms by other tribes give us a hint as to origin of the Hebrew 'elon as originating in the idea of "bark (of a tree)". In view of my discussion of Latvian kuok- "wood, tree" above, it is then interesting to find Bantu Lega kÊŠÌ€kÊŠÌ€ and Bantu Yao kùúÅ‹gwà or Tswana kwàtí, all meaning "wood".
- see

Also related here is the concept of "hard" - (Latvian ciets) but here rooted in the concept of hard wood, not tree....
Bantu Asu kúʤÌ`ì, Bemba kòs, Rumanyo káɲù
- see

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