From *wers we get English war, worse, worst.

From *wert we get English versus, verse, version, vertex, vortex, vertical, revert, invert, divert,..., worth, -ward, weird.

From *werb/p we get English warp, wrap, reverberate, envelop(e), develop, overlap, lap.

The Wiktionary etymology entry for "war" has

Compare Latin versus (“against, turned”), past participle of vertere (“turn, change, overthrow, destroy”). More at worse, wurst.

This seems to suggest a relation between PIE *wers (root of war, worse) and *wert (root of versus and possibly wurst). I'm also asking about *werb since it is so similar to *wert in sound and meaning.

Are any of these 3 roots actually related?

  • The relation is that they are three PIE roots that seem to resemble one another in phonological shape.
    – jlawler
    Feb 12 '18 at 18:21
  • @jlawler added where i got the question. do you think that wiktionary entry is mistaken?
    – Colin
    Feb 12 '18 at 18:51
  • That comment doesn't really help... I don't know if Wiktionary just happens to be wrong or what, but the point the poster seems to be making there is that if 1) "worse" is from *wers, 2) "versus" is from *wert (through "vertere"), but also 3) "worse" is related to "versus", which is Wiktionary's claim... then *wers must also be related to *wert.
    – LjL
    Feb 12 '18 at 20:31
  • @LjL that comment came before I added the wiktionary citation.
    – Colin
    Feb 12 '18 at 21:21
  • Wikitionary is obviously not a one person thing, you can't apply a=b and b=C so a=C here. Because b and C might have been contributed by different people. Feb 13 '18 at 1:02

The currently fashionable theory is that *wer is a root, and -s, -t, -b are "extensions". What is still missing is an explanation of what exactly the function of these "extensions" is supposed to be.

  • 4
    could you point me in the direction of any references?
    – Colin
    Feb 12 '18 at 19:15
  • 1
    @Colin. This, perhaps, as an overview: iling.spb.ru/confs/root_extensions.pdf
    – fdb
    Feb 13 '18 at 10:03
  • Very interesting--but it doesn't seem to bear directly on this issue.
    – Colin
    Feb 14 '18 at 2:32
  • Those are abstracts from a workshop. There's mention of: *werh3dh- > PGrm *(s)wor-dh- "to observe" on p. 25; IE root enlargements *-s- and *-d- on p. 29; again *-dh- on p. 31, as "clusters of plain voices [sic!] stops + laryngeals", stating the obvious comparison to *dheh1- next to other scenarios; Agentivität vs Inagentivität, without cited examples (p. 34); preverbals modifying verbal aspect perfect vs imperfect in Germanic vs Balto-Slavic and Celtic (p. 36). A few highly respected names in there, many bibliographical references; certainly underlines the answer's noted uncertainty!
    – vectory
    Dec 17 '19 at 15:22
  • I'd go one step further and try to isolate *-r- e.g. as L re "back, again", rota "wheel"; which of course leads to reductio ad absurdum, if we are thus left with *w-, but that's not unreasonable and allows further comparisons; too many, alas.
    – vectory
    Dec 17 '19 at 16:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.