Given that γ (gamma) may have been pronounced as a voiced palatal fricative, it's perhaps not too much of a stretch to imagine that morphing into an unvoiced dental fricative.

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    The Greek cognate of for is παρά. An f in Germanic usually corresponds with p in Greek, thanks to Grimm's law.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 15:09
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    There’s no reason to think gamma was pronounced as a palatal fricative in Ancient Greek (even in Modern Greek, it’s only pronounced like that before front vowels); it was a hard [ɡ]. Also, Germanic and Greek are quite far apart and there’s no reason why a fundamental function word like for should be borrowed from Greek rather than just inherited. If you look up the word in an etymological dictionary (Etymonline or Wiktionary will do), you’ll find that it’s actually rather related to Greek περί. Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 15:10
  • Wiktionary is definitively not a good source for anything; it is a messy aggregator of content gotten from etymology dictionaries and paywall papers (which are not even cited or at the very least misquoted like in Wikipedia), organized by several people with little training in the area and too much time in their hands. This is a place that will redirect you to first-hand etymology sources for Greek/Latin/English/French/etc lexilogos.com/etymologie.htm
    – user22430
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 11:07
  • @William So you call "etymonline.com" as used by lexilogos a "first-hand etymology source"? Let me assure you, it isn't. And Wiktionry isn't as bad as you describe it, and it has refrences. Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 13:52
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    you are right that wiktionary is generally quite good, but its references frequently leave a lot to be desired (especially on pages for reconstructions where citations would be especially useful). Etymonline's not much better though, and the fact it doesn't render diacritics faithfully makes the early stages of its etymologies (e.g. to PIE) useless as anything more than a jog to the memory
    – Tristan
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly not.

One of the discoveries that led to the creation of modern comparative linguistics was this: Germanic words starting with F tend to be cognate with Greek words starting with Π. Compare fire~πῦρ, feather~πτέρον, flat~πλατύς. This pattern is now known as (part of) Grimm's Law.

So the Greek cognates of "for" do not include γάρ, but a variety of short words starting with Π, such as παρά, περί, and πέρα, all eventually from Proto-Indo-European *p-r-.

(As a side note, Γ didn't become a fricative until post-Classical times, and English F is a labiodental fricative: the term "dental fricative" generally refers to the interdental fricative /θ/.)

  • there's a distinction between dental and interdental fricatives. The IPA defines [θ] as dental, but in American English, /θ/ is usually interdental [θ̪͆]. In British English, /θ/ is usually a true dental [θ] (unless fronted to [f])
    – Tristan
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 10:08

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