Weird etymological coincidences

26 Feb 2017

So, lately, I had a ridiculous amount of free time on hand and was big into language learning (still am). In the process; I noticed a great deal of word pairs in different languages that happened to share a common etymological ancestors.

Those pairs are usually some Turkish word + English cognates. Though there’s a great deal of English + other IE language cognate pairs through non-obvious ways. If I collected all the pairs I noticed throughout last year; I’d have a ridiculously long list.

But there are three super weird examples I can think of off the top of my head; first is Turkish ‘şopar’ colloquially meaning a gypsy kid plus British slang ‘chav’ derived from Romani ‘chavo’ meaning boy. Those are actually derived from the same word, spoken in slightly different accents.

The second is Turkish ‘çarşamba’ meaning Wednesday and English ‘four’. The first word actually means fourth day in middle Persian, where four can be traced back to a PIE root. So can the English numeral be obviously traced back to the original root.

The third is; Turkish ‘kefal’ means a type of salt water fish. It is somehow related to the English word ‘head’. Like pretty much all fish names in Turkish, kefal has a greek root, κεφαλος. Which is derived from the Greek word for head κεφαλι. It was probably named that way in Ancient Greek due to its prominent head. So, that word is derived from PIE root *kapolo. From the same root, through Proto-Germanic, we get the English head and its cousins in other Germanic languages. When we look at its modern German cognate, Haupt, the similarity gets a bit more visible.