Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Origins of the Words "fig" and "boy" in the Concept of Half-Grown - LexiLine Journal 502

The terms for "fig" in Afro-Asiatic are pretty much all variants of the completely different word "tin" - see those terms at the databases of the Tower of Babel site of Sergei Starostin.

In Latvian "tin" means "to twine", i.e. hence this in our opinion originally refers to a "vine" of sorts, whence, perhaps, the Biblical phrase:
"But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it."
As we read at at the Israel government site for tourism :
"Figs can be seen ripening under the summer sun throughout Israel, their distinctive aroma perfuming the air around springs and streams from Caesarea Philippi in the north to Ein Gedi in the south. The word fig is one of several in English that probably comes from Hebrew: paga means an unripe fig. The fruit gave its name to two villages on the Mount of Olives. One is Bethphage, Beit Pagi, which means "house of unripe figs," through which Jesus passed before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1, Mark 11:1, Luke 19:29). The other is Bethany, Beit Te'enah, which means `house of the fig." ... Summer visitors to Israel can recall that "each man sitting under his own vine and fig tree" ... is a biblical symbol of peace." [emphasis added by LexiLine]
That alleged word origin makes sense if we examine the similar term puika in Latvian, meaning "boy", i.e. "an unripe male, a young male (in this sense)", also in the Latvian variant term puisis, with similar terms found in the following languages: Swedish: pojke sv(sv) c, Estonian poiss-, Hebrew `חור (bakhúr) m, Irish: buachaill ga(ga) m., Portuguese pequerrucho m., Sicilian: picciriddu m. (child); picciottu m. (teenager), or Welsh: bachgen cy(cy) m. - or, as noted at MacBain's Dictionary, bucach means a boy (dial.): "growing one".

At some point the guttural sound at the end was lost and we got the English word boy.

The oldest conceptual meaning however will be given to us by the Latvain variant of puika "boy" which is puisis. Since puse in Latvian means "half", and in Latvian pusaudzis (literally "half-grown, from pus-aug") means "adolescent" or pusaudze (g//dz permutation) means "youngster", we see that the Hebrew term and all the other Indo-European terms derive from the basic concept of "unripe" in the sense of "half-grown".

The analysis is eminently clear. What the mainstream linguists and etymologists have written about these terms is confused, incompetent babble.

Marchidan21 replied:

In romanian:
cuţit = knife/dagger
pici = young boy
pitic = small one, dwarf
(Piticot = name of a dwarf from romanian old story)
pui = young bird/animal/children
puică = young female bird / young girl
puiet = small tree/plant
fag = name of a tree

William Glyn-Jones replied:

Latvian puisis for boy reminds me of Latin puer, boy.

The logic of what you suggest makes sense in as much as figs have long been connected symbolically, for obvious reasons with gonads, and because on a fig tree two years’ fruit are present at once, divided distinctly in to the two categories of big, mature, and those small, and half the age. If the Hebrew Pagi are the unripe figs, this would make sense. All the same, not convinced, especially about “half-grown” as original origin for the non-Latvian words for boy, when there are other explanations. “Small” seems likely in at least two of the cases sited:-

Sicilian: picciriddu m. (child); picciottu m. (teenager) – these must be related to Italian for small, piccolo.

Welsh: bachgen cy(cy) m. –boy. In Welsh, bach means small.


Andis Kaulins wrote:

Here is an interesting list of Bantu words for "unripe" which in my opinion support my analysis of the word for "fig" as being rooted in the concept of being "half ripe".
source -

ID Language Nominal Prefix Radical Gram. Genre Cognacy Annotation
02209. Asu G.22
vísì A multiclasse

01724. Basaa A.43a ∅/bì- sùá N 7, 8

01299. Bemba M.42

pòmpò N

unripe fruit
01300. Bemba M.42 ì ßòòßò N

unripe groundnuts
00900. Bukusu E.31c
-ßìsì Ad

00423. Kinyamwezi F22
βɩ̀sɩ́ A

02581. Koyo C.24 è bìsì N 7-8

03410. Lega D.25
bɩ́sɩ̀ A

03035. Rumanyo (Gciriku) K.38
ßîʃù A multiclasse

04269. Yao P.21
vísí A

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