E 1008 WOLF, WHELP

The words " wolf " and " whelp " are of Germanic origin .

H 0488 ב ל כ

Concept of root: canine

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ב ל כ

klv

dog

Related English words

wolf, whelp

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ב ל כ

klv

dog

k . l . b

Mehri (Semitic)

kawb;

kelob

-

kawb;

kelob

-

wolf, dog;

wolves, dogs

k . wb ;

k . l . b

Soqotri (Semitic)

kalb

kalb

wolf,

dog

k . lb

Latin

vulpes;

lupus

vulpes;

lupus

fox;

wolf

v . l p;

l (u) p

English

wolf;

whelp

wolf ;

whelp

w . l f;

w . l p

German

Wolf,

Welpe

wolf

welpe

wolf
cub

w . l f

w . l p

Dutch

wolf;

welp

wolf;

welp

wolf

cub

w . l f

w . l p

Lithuanian

kale

kale

female dog

k . l

Swedish

ulv; varg

ǜlv; varj

wolf

(u) l v; v . rg

Lombardian

luf

luf

wolf

l (u) f

Russian

волк

wolk

wolf

w . l k

Greek

λυκος

lΰkos

wolf

l (u) k

 

 

Proto-Semitic *KALEB --- *WŪLP- Indo-European

 

 

The Germanic W often corresponds to a Latin or Neo-Latin K or G. In this entry the Hebrew K does the same thing seen with Latin.

 

 

Note:
  • Latin in "vulpes", that is also "volpes", is very near Germanic "wolf", whereas "lupus" possibly is in metathesis, between L and W/U. Swedish "ulv" confirms that the Germanic W may live the same adventures of the Hebrew W (called waw) and become a U. And this explains also that possible metathesis of the second Latin word.

 

Note:
  • Lombardian is by many considered more a language than a dialect. In reality it lives a difficult life in the shadow of official Italian. But it has a number of characteristics that can be very interesting etymologically. This is also the case here. Milanese "lūf" has turned the Latin "P" into "PH = F", at the end of a shortened word, that is like the root "l(u)p" of Latin "lupus". This changing of final " P " into " PH ", is usual in Hebrew and also in many other instances in languages.

 

Note:
  • Dutch in its dialectal pronunciation of "wolf" comes a bit nearer to Hebrew, when it uses two vowels and sounds "wollef".

 

Note:
  • Greek and Russian both have, instead of a labial like P, F or V, a consonant K. Nobody seems to have found any explanation for this differerence, nor does anybody doubt seriously that Latin "lupus" and Greek "lukos" may be of one and the same origin. Between Greek and Russian the difference anyhow is that Russian has the sequence of Germanic, while Greek is in metathesis with that, like also Latin is. That is , Latin in "lupus", not Latin in "vulpes" or "volpes", which is in perfect harmony with Germanic and Hebrew. According to Greek scholars "lükos" comes through metathesis from an older "*ülkos". Some indicate "lükos" < "*lükwos" < "*ülkwos". This might perhaps be right, but it remains a pure guess, so we rather stick to "*ülkos".

 

Note:
  • Taboos and origins. There is or has been a strong opinion that the names "wolf" and "bear" were created to avoid their real names, considered taboo while indicating such dangerous animals. In this thought the Indo-European name for the wolf was "WJKWO". And "wolf" a way not to pronounce the name of the feared animal. We do not believe this.

     

    Another idea has been that "wolf" comes from an old root "*uel" meaning "to tear apart". In this way of reasoning the basic thing people remarked as a wolf’s characteristic was his delaniating prey’s. We do not see this as convincing either.

     

    Originally, or nearly so, wolves and men worked together in hunting and respected each other, all in common interest. One of the factors that made this possible is that early men were so much stronger and faster that modern men, that they had less to fear from wolves. Once Man had begun to create, breed, dogs out of wolves, a new distance grew and new words became necessary to distinguish between the categories of canines.

     

    Thus in Indo-European there came words like "kyon" and "hound" or "canis" for "dog". And in Hebrew the old word was instead kept for dogs and a different one, "ze’ev" used for wolves. In Latin the old word was kept for the fox, but the one for "wolf" was turned about into "lupus".

     

    The Greeks , besides turning about the consonants of the wolf in a metathesis into "lukos", created a new word for "dog", "skulos". Perhaps it looks just a little bit like "lukos", but in reality it seems to have to do with a word for "prey". In classic Greek the word still was only "skulax" that stood for "cub", of dogs of course, like originally English "whelp".

     

    The picture is very complicated, but also rather clear.

 

Note:
  • Barking. Perhaps the link between languages and barking is narrow, but one might ask why dogs bark. Wolves, from whom all dogs descend, decidedly do not bark. But those poor dogs, living with humans, had to hear all day how these communicated, talked and pleasantly chattered. The animals may have tried to participate, to imitate humans a bit. So they began to make those sounds that we now call "barking", "bellen, blaffen, abbaiare, aboyer, gavyizei".

 

Note:
  • Whelp and calf both are young animals. An etymology for "calf" seems not to have been found. Perhaps they are related, and that might mean also being akin to the Hebrew word "kelev" for "dog".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic used the root still present in Hebrew . As to the meaning of the root it is important to note that in some languages, such as Mehri, Jibbali, Harsusi and Soqotri, the words with this root have the meaning of "wolf" as well as that of "dog". And there are interesting words one may compare with some Indo European ones. Mehri has singular "kawb" with plural "kelob". Harsusi shows "kawb" and "kob" with plural "kelob", Jibbali singular ""kolob and "kob", with Soqotri "kalb". These words still have that K-sound that is absent from Latin and Germanic, but feature the O- and W-sounds that are so prominent in Indo European .

     

    Aramaic and Syriac "כ ל ב א , kalb", Arabic and Ethiopian "kalb" and Akkadian "kalbu" all mean "dog" and Ugaritic uses the same root.

     

    Proto-Semitic probably had the root still used in Hebrew : "*כ ל ב , K L B".

     

    Without doubt the original pronunciation in Proto-Semitic was with a final consonant " B ". It remains unclear when the change into " V " as present in Hebrew has come about.

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic. The initial consonant of the Germanic words is "W", except in the Nordic languages from which that "W" has disappeared. This is a common phenomenon for words that begin with "WU-" or "WO-". In Old Swedish "wulaf-" and "wolaf-" the "W" was still present. The (following) vowel is mostly a short "Ŭ". Especially in older languages like Gothic, Old Saxon, Old English and Middle Low German we see "wulf". Old Swedish as seen was changing over to the short "Ŏ" and so did Middle Dutch that still used "wulf" but also had "wolf". Old High German used the short "Ŭ" in "wulpa" for the female wolf. In modern German the same vowel is heard in the plural of "Wolf", that is "Wölfer". "Wolf" is already seen in Old Frisian and Old High German, like in modern German, Dutch and English, though in this last case the pronunciation becomes a long "Ū". Probably Proto-Germanic had "*W Ŭ LF-", but in fact also"*W Ŭ LP-", that is found in the female version of Old High German: "wulpa .

     

    The concentration from "WU" into "U" was already seen in Old Norse "ulfr = wolf", in which the final "R" is a typical Old Norse suffix.

     

 

Note:
  • Swedish. One notes that Swedish uses two different words for "wolf". This has led scholars to suppose that the word "varg", that is also used in Norwegian, has been "invented" to avoid pronouncing the real name of the wolf. It must be said that the word "varg" is the most common one for "wolf" in Swedish and that many composed words use it. But if we look well at the table, we see that the set of consonants "v r g" can well be related to other Indo European ones. An R and an L can sometimes interchange, and not only in a Chinese pronunciation of European words. And so do G and K. But more important is to see that Hungarian, a non Indo European language , calls a wolf a "farkas, farkash". So there may well be a common origin in what is called "Nostratic", the hypothetical old language from which Indo European, Semitic and other groups of languages are supposed to have been derived.

 

Note:
  • Indo-European. In the groups of languages that belong to Indo-European, one sees various of the developments we referred to. For an analysis it can be useful to apply some simplifying symbols. "W" for the various forms of "U, WO, WU, I, W, V", "L" for "L" or "R"; "P" for " P, F " and "K" for "K, G. GH" . Then we see metatheses between "W L" and "L W" and a doubling of "K".

     

    Old Indian "vrkagh = wolf" uses the "R" as a vowel and recalls Scandinavian "varg" with a couple of changes. The formula is "W L K".

     

    Avestan "vĕrka- is well in line, as so often, with Old Indian.The formula is "W L K".

     

    Slavic Old Church Slavonic shows "vlŭkŭ". Russian has "волк, wolk = wolf". The formula is "W L K". Interesting is the word "лиса, lisa = fox", in which the "K" has become "S" in a common development, and the formula is "L W K".

     

    One may remark, that a vowel " I " may have developed out of " O ", as is seen in Polish "wilk = wolf". The " O " may also just disappear, or rather "WO" may become, or return to be, a consonant "W", as in Czech "vlk = wolf". The formula remains "W L K".

     

    Baltic uses the same formula "W L K" as Slavic, in Old Prussian "wilkis, Lithuanian "vilkas" and Latvian "vlks".

     

    Albanian with "ulk" has still the formula "W L K".

     

    Greek, Latin underwent a metathesis, into respectively "L W K" and "L W P".

     

     

    One may suppose that in Indo European there were two basic versions, "W L K", mostly in what today is the eastern part, and "W L P", in what today is the western part. We see no explanation for the difference, nor can we indicate one as the predecessor of the other. Only the comparison with Semitic may induce us to suppose that the version with a final labial is the original one : "*WU L P-". But it is still possible that "*WU L K-" came into life as a second form, already during or in Indo-European. And also possible, even more probable is that both versions existed right from the old times of Indo-European, as the formula "W L K ( WRK)" is present also in Hungarian.

     

    Within Indo-European there are also Armenian "gayl" and in Celtic Gaul "*uailo-s" with Old Iirish "failan" that perhaps can be considered as sound-imitating.

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 24/01/2013 at 17.23.57