E 0503 KING

The word " king " is of Germanic origin .

H 0370 ן נ ג

Concept of root : protection

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ן נ ג

ן נ ג ו

ganan;

gonen

to protect, defend ; protecting, defending

Related English words

king

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ן נ ג

-

ן נ ג ו

ganan;

-

gonen

to protect, defend ;

protecting, defending

g . n . n

Old English

cyning

king

c . n . ng

English

king

king

k . ng

Dutch

koning

koning

king

k . n . ng

Swedish

konung, kung

konǚng, kng

king

k . n . ng ,

k . ng

 

 

Proto-Semitic *GAN, *GON --- *KON-ING Proto-Germanic < *KON- Indo-European

 

 

We see a similarity because the Hebrew verb expresses the function of the Germanic nouns. In other words, kings were elected with the task of guiding and protecting the men of the Germanic tribe in war and defense.

 

Perhaps the second N in Germanic has developed into NG , to express the difference with the usual suffix ending on N. Another possibility is that in fact the final word parts "-ing" and "-ung" are suffixes of a participle. Thus the meaning of the words for "king" is "the protecting one" or "the protector". In English "king" we see the substantive contracted, as was already the case in Middle English "king". In Swedish one still sees both forms, original "konung" and contracted "kung". If one reads in Swedish the word " kungen ", than this is different. The substantive here is still "kung" and the suffix "-en " is in fact the definite article. The Nordic languages attach this article to the noun, at the end of it. Perhaps under influence of this rule, the definite article is more frequently used in these languages.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew. Makes a clear distinction between the concept of "enclosed garden" and that of "protect and defend" that is also expressed by the verbal form " ג ו נ ן , gonen ", already mentioned before. This is in sound identical to the participle of the Biblical verb "ganan". For that reason we have also specified that verbal form. In fact "gonen" for "protecting" is amazingly near some words for "king", such as German "Koenig", Dutch "koning" and Swedish "konung".

     

    An especially interesting aspect we would consider the following. The Germanic king was the elected protector of the tribe or people. But of course he did not do so single handed. Instead he availed himself of the able men. And we see the Hebrew causative form of this verb , "hgen", expressing not just " to make protect " but directly "to protect, to defend". Just like the king's protection this includes the making the able men protect and defend "themselves and the tribe".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. This root is seen in Aramaic "ג נ ן, genan = to protect". There are possible cognates in Akkadian "gannu = cover" and Arabic "jannay = he covered". It may well have been in use in Proto-Semitic. "*ג נ ן, G N N". This root had developed out of and existed alongside an earlier two consonant root "* ג ן, G N". This two consonant root may have been pronounced with a vowel " O " as often was the case: "*ג ו ן, G O N".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic. A king was originally a man, elected by the assembly of men of a tribe, in order to rule and protect the people for a certain period. We do not believe that the word for "king", a very distinctive figure, is linked to that of the not distinctive concept "kunne (family, gender, linked with Latin genus)", only because a king is of a noble family.

     

    It is rather the other way about. A man’s family becomes "noble" when he has been elected king. The choice of a king was not limited to certain families and the function ended at the end of its term or also earlier if the assembly so decided. Being king was a not only difficult but also risky responsibility. The assembly remained sovereign. The Germanic concept of kingdom was very different from the Mediterranean or Eastern one.

     

    The Germanic words for "king" are very similar between them: Old Saxon "kuning", Old English "cyning" and "cyng", Old Norse "konungr", but also already "kongr, kungr", Old High German "kuning" and Middle Dutch "coninc". Proto-Germanic probably had the form "*K O N ING-, developed out of "*K O N- by adding the suffix *"-ING".

 

Note:
  • Indo-European.

     

    Old Church Slavonic "kŭnezĮ = prince "

     

    Lithuanian "kningaz = lord, priest ", that recalls a role of protection, though its sounds a bit suspect like a loanword from Swedish.

     

     

    Indo-European may indeed have used a form "*K Ō N-" or "*K Ū N-".

 

Note:
  • English. It should be remarked that the word " queen " is of completely different origin from the word "king ". In English we still see " quean " for an impudent or disreputable woman . The hypothetical but probable old word was " cwene ", still found in Old English as meaning " woman, wife " . In Scottish, a probable loanword from English, " cwene " says " young woman ". In Dutch a " kween " has become just an " old woman " .

     

    Already in the period of Old English that same word , " cwene " acquired as well the meaning of " THE woman " that is " the queen ".
    Interesting is that Greek has the strictly related word "γυνη , gn " for "woman" . This has given birth to many words in English : gynecology , gynecocracy , gynaeceum etc..
    In Scandinavian we see Norwegian " kone " for " woman ", but Swedish " kona " has become like English " queen " .

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 20/10/2012 at 17.07.14