I am amateurishly passionate about etymologies (especially of my native Romanian) but more seriously interested in the anthropological theories of René Girard and Walter Burkert, which both hypothesize primitive religion, myth and sacrifice (and thus human culture - and humanization itself) to derive from the transformation of some type of collective violence, whether ultimately oriented against a hunted animal or a human victim.
Playing with etymologies, I sometimes stumble into cases that seem to have a familiar twist relating to those theories. I have encountered some confirmed etymologies (cited in the works of the aforementioned anthropologists) reflecting that kind of cultural genealogy, but not exactly the ones I am interested here in.
For example, the Slavic term vina = guilt (which also entered Romanian with the same meaning) is based on Old Church Slavonic вина (vina, “guilt”), from Proto-Slavic *vina, ultimately based on PIE *weyh₁- (“to hunt, to chase, to persecute”).
(The simple fact that "to persecute" and "to hunt" are semantically united in one single PIE root can be ”read” in parallel with those theories.)
I was intrigued by the fact that the Romanian verb a vâna/vîna = ”to hunt” sounds close to the the noun vină (guilt, blame) and the regional and rare form a învina = ”to blame, to accuse” (standard form: a da vina, literally ”to give the blame”, identical to English ”put the blame”). And in this case the morphological similarity is based on etymology, a vâna = ”to hunt”, vânător=hunter, vânătoare=hunt, come ultimately (through vulgar Latin *vēnāre < Latin vēnārī, vēnor) from the same PIE root as vina=guilt, blame. - In this way those two Romanian verbs ”to blame” (a învina, a da vina) and ”to hunt” (a vâna/vîna) seemed like a pair of doublets, one Slavic, one Latin.
Looking for other terms that are familiar to me and that might have the same genealogy, I have easily identified the Romanian word voinic, meaning ”strong”, as an adjective, and with related meanings as a noun: ”young man”, ”strong man”, more specifically a young man that is daring, well-built etc. An outdated meaning is that of ”soldier”, and the form is obviously based on the identical Slavic one meaning ”soldier”, also voina=”war”, with the same ultimate PIE root (Proto-Slavic *vojь, vojьnikъ =”soldier”, **vojьna=”war” < Proto-Balto-Slavic *wajas < Proto-Indo-European *weyh₁).
Looking for other semantically and morphologically similar words that might have the same root, I have considered the verb a învinge (”to win, to defeat”) of Latin origin. But vincere - vinco seems based on a different PIE root: from Proto-Italic *winkō, from Proto-Indo-European * wi-n-k-, nasal infix from *weyk-, “to overcome”, but more fundamentally ”to separate, to choose”, a meaning that can be further specified (in the sense of the considered anthropological theories - see link for wīhaz below) as ”to separate out, to set aside as holy, consecrate, sacrifice”, resulting in Latin victima (”sacrificial victim”), Proto-Germanic wīhaz (”sacred, holy”) and wīhą (”sanctuary”).
But still, maybe the two PIE roots are somehow related in the first place.
- *weyh₁- = “to hunt, to chase, to persecute”
- *weyk- = ”to cast out, exclude, set aside as holy, consecrate, sacrifice”