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Tracing back Greek words to Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

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Tracing back Greek words to Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

Postby Mehdi Abbassi » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:38 pm

I'm going to trace back ἦν and εἶναι to their Proto-Indo-European root. I know the Greek verb εἶναι is derived from the Indo-European root *h1es-. *h1es- means 'to be' and φύω, from which physics and physical are derived, is derived from the Indo-European root bhū. The root bhū probably meant 'to grow', but also 'to become'.
The root as, which still lives in our he is, is a very old root: it existed in its abstract sense previous to the Aryan separation. Nevertheless we know that as, before it could mean to be, meant to breathe.
The simplest derivation of as to breathe, was as-u, in Sanskrit, breath; and from it probably asu-ra, those who breathe, who live, who are, and at last, the oldest name for the living gods, the Vedic Asura.

When this root as, to breathe, was felt to be inconvenient to trees and other things which clearly do not breathe, a second root was taken, bhū, meaning originally to grow, the Greek φυ-ω, which still lives in our own to be. It was applicable, not to the animal world only, but also to the vegetable world, to everything growing, and the earth itself was called Bhūs, the growing one.
F. Max Muller, Origin and Growth of Religion, pp. 191-192
Mehdi Abbassi
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Re: Tracing back Greek words to Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

Postby ximo » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:06 pm

The reconstruction is correct. From the root *phuH- comes φύσις "nature" and the form fui in Latin, the perfect of the verb "to be"; it is probably related to the meaning "breathe", with the meaning of "some living thing that breathes". A third verb related to this is Greek γίγνομαι meaning "to be born, created" and sometimes near to the copulative verb.
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