2

Does anyone have any leads as to the etymology of the greek words sigao (strongs # 4601) and sige (strongs # sige) which are translated silence and silent respectively in the new testament?

1
  • 3
    It comes from PIE *swī-g- 'cease, be silent'; it's cognate also with Modern German schweigen, and Old English swīgan, with the same meaning. It refers to not speaking, rather than just not making noise. – jlawler Jul 14 '13 at 23:04
8

Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque says the etymology is "obscure" and refers to two hypotheses:

  • that it derives from an "expressive syllable" σι-, which I suppose is analogous to English shh
  • that it derives from a conjectural swīg- which is also ancestral to Ger schweigen, "to be mute", and goes back to PIE su̯ī-, -g-, -k-, -p- (Pokorny 1052), "fade, weaken, etc."

Further references are at the link above. The Pokorny entry is online at Indo-European Etymological Dictionary.

1
  • 3
    The *sw- etymology, however, is difficult ("très douteux" as Chantraine says) because PIE *sw- regularly gives Greek h-, not s-. – TKR Sep 23 '13 at 16:46
3

IE *sueigh- should become *εἱχ- in Greek. Beekes, Greek Etym. Dictionary, page 1327 suggests that σῖγα is "probably of onomatopoetic origin”.

1
  • Note also sus, which is commonly used in the region for shhh. It is commonly thought to be from the Turkish verb susmak, but I can't find cognates of it in other Turkic languages, it could be that the verb was the derivation. – Adam Bittlingmayer Jan 7 '19 at 8:34
-1

To connect the *swig- from old high german swīgān with the greek σιγ- one can suppose the greek interjection (that must be prior to the verb) had a digamma phonem like so *σFιγ- coming from PIE *su̯ī-g- that disappeared in the early sound history of greek.

2
  • 2
    This is a bad hypothesis. Even if the -w- had got lost (for some unexplained reason), the s- would still have become h-, not s-. – fdb Feb 19 '14 at 21:41
  • 1
    As fdb says, would this make a difference? Apparently "sweet" and Greek "hedus" are cognate; the digamma originally present in the later didn't preserve the s. – brass tacks Nov 22 '16 at 23:02

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.