N.Gmc. *kut- A Reconstruction in Need of Revision Based on
Earlier Semitic Linguistic Occurrences.
ABSTRACT - Various etymologies have been offered for the word "cut". The hypothetic attributions range from the Celtic, Latin to the Germanic. However one can dispel these reconstructions by reexamining deeper the root of "cut" in Semitic languages. This essay attempts at proving that the present etymologies of the word cut are patently false.
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The following facts and theories summarizes the extend of this fallacy:
FACTS: Cut ranks 114th on the Swadish list of 207 words in the English language.
According to the OED, the origin of "cut" and its original sense is uncertain.
The current cut, a word only of Modern English, being the proper word for incision, for which OE. used snithan, ceorfan, is known from, the 16th c. While cut, with the sense of "lot", goes back before 1300.
There is no cognate word, and no derivative from any word meaning "CUTTING", used in the other Teutonic languages; in these, the word LOT, with its cognates, is the native term.
The word "cut" is not recorded in OE. (nor in any WGer., dialect), and there is no corresponding verb in Romanic.
Mod. Norwegian kutte - to cut (chiefly used by sailors), according to the OED, is certainly adopted from English.
According to the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, CUT: [OE. cutten, kitten, ketten; is prob. of Celtic origin; cf. W. cwta to shorten, curtail. However, this conjectured derivation of cut from Welsh cwta "short"' is, in the opinion of Prof. Rhys, quite untenable. Neither cwta nor any of its derivatives have any relation whatever to the use of a knife or other cutting instrument; while the South Wales cwt =cut cwt, gash, e.g. in the hand, is a mere adoption of English.
Finally, "Online Etymology Dictionary" offers two posibilties: 1) Scandinavian origin, from N.Gmc. *kut-, 2) from O.Fr. couteau "knife". (First occurrence in O.French is in 1316 versus Middle English in c.1275.)
REDISCOVERING THE ROOTS OF "CUT"
A proper investigation of the etymology of cut would take us back in time to Ugarit, an independent Canaanite kingdom from the 18th century BCE (present day Syria), which offers the following interesting clue found in Keilalphabetische Texte aus Ugarit 1.114.
KTU 1.114 - is about a tale of Ilu, the chief Ugaritic god, known as the "father of mankind. Ilu is holding a party with all the Ugaritic pantheon gods, at which the moon disguises itself as a dog and runs about under the tables begging for scraps. Ugaritic is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC.
"KTU 1.114" The text describes a drinking society of Ilu, an institution which had its counterpart on earth. Ilu invites all gods for the carving. He encourages them to eat, and to drink wine unto satiety, to drink must unto drunkenness. The more important guests appear to be seated at the table, whereas others have to be content with a humble place under the table. The moon-god Yarikhu puts down the "'saddle-meat" presumably before every deity. He tears it out [qtt] like a dog. He throws some pieces of bread to the miserable gods under the table, that is, to those he knows. `Athtartu and `Anatu pity the god who is passed over and feed him demonstratively the best pieces of meat, a haunch and a shoulder."
REFERENCE: The Ugaritic Texts in Ugaritica 5. Review author[s]: A. F. Rainey. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 94, No. 2. (Apr. - Jun., 1974), pp. 184-194.
It is quite obvious that the Ugaritic word qtt (qopa+taana+taana) in KTU1.114 is demonstrably three millennium earlier than the first occurrence of "cut" in Middle English (c.1275), Old French or Welsh.
While the word "qtt" is not attested in the Northwest Semitic sister languages, such as Akkadian and Hebrew/Aramaic, it is the Classical Arabic that provides us with further irrefutable proof that the word is of a Semitic origin.
Below are the various Arabic definitions of the word qtt (qaf+ta'+ta').
1- in a general sense: separate with or as if with an instrument, i.e. he cut it, meaning a hard thing, cut it breadth wise across, or crosswise, he so separated it; he pared the reed for writing, cut off its head breadth wise across, or crosswise, the blacksmith pared, and made even, the hoof of the beast.
2- A slice cut off of anything, a portion, share or lot. Hence in the Qur'an 38. 15, they say: "Our Lord! Hasten to us our lot (Qittana) before the Day of Reckoning!" In chronology, this suwrah belongs to the early middle Makkan period. c.615 CE.
CONCLUSION: qtt (cut) is found in Ugaritic ( Northwest Semitic) three millennium earlier than in any Indo-European suggested example . While Classical Arabic example with its derivative sense (lot) occurred some six to seven centuries prior to its first appearance in any Celtic or Germanic language. In addition of qtt, Arabic has qt` (qaf+ta'+`ayn) with the exact range of meanings.
t = emphatic t
Andis Kaulins replied:
Once again, you have clearly succeeded in pointing out that current mainstream linguistic ideas about Indo-European etymologies are in great neeed of amendment, here in the case of the etymology of the word "cut".
I might add to your analysis Hebrew: חתוך (khatukh) m., חתוכ�" (khatukha) f. see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cut
However, once again I must point out that the Indo-Europeanists have failed in large part because they again have not looked to Latvian for possible roots. Latvian provides us with two alternative etymological lines.
1. Latvian cirt-, cert-, karta-
One possibility is that "cut" is modern term in English which has lost a weak "R" in front of the T. In Latvian we have numerous terms with the base word cirt-, or cert- meaning "to cut, fell, hew, chop, etc." That same base is also found in Latvian karta- "slice, section, layer, etc."
We maintain this same base in English words such as carve, which the clueless Indo-European linguists ascribe to an alleged root *gerbh-, which of course is preposterous, since gerb- in Latvian is a root meaning "to dress, to put on clothes". That is why the word gerben in German means "to tan, to dress hides", i.e. it is a term referring to the old means of making clothing from the hides of animals.
We find the same bases for cut in for example Danish: skåret and Swedish skuren meaning "having been cut". See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cut
which of course has its Latvian comparable skarnis "butcher" [but also skart "to touch"].
2. Latvian kost-, kod- "to bite"
The second possibility, if we are looking for an etymological line of developoment without an intervening R, is the Latvian word for "bite (with the teeth), i.e. to "cut" using the teeth, which preceded modern tools and implements and must be viewed as the oldest form of human "cutting" viz. "chewing" for which a word would have been given. English here has retained the word cud, i.e. that which is chewed, i.e. "cut" with the teeth.