So, are the Croatian word "struna" (string of a musical instrument) and the English word "string" related? And, if so, why does the English word contain -ng, while the Croatian word ends in -na?

There are a few words where Croatian "str-" appears to correspond to English "str-", such as "stranac" and "stranger". But I don't whether that is a true cognate either.

  • In fact stranac derives from the same root as string. en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B9# Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


Both Slavic and Germanic have str- as the regular reflex of word-initial PIE *sr- (and also *str-, although this is rarer), so genuine cognates beginning with str- in Germanic will be expected to begin with str- in Slavic as well.

That said, these are unlikely to be cognate.

String is from Proto-Germanic *strangiz "string", clearly related to *strangaz "tight" (whence English "strong"). They have parallels in Greek στραγγός strangós "twisted" and Latvian strangs "brisk". All these forms show the a-vocalism and agree on the final stop being a g. Together these point to the word being a loan in one or more branches (the Latvian form works with either the Greek or Germanic forms, but the Greek would be expected to correspond to **strank- in Germanic and the Germanic would be expected to correspond to *stranch- in Greek), although a root *strengʰ- (corresponding to the Germanic form) is sometimes claimed, as is a link to *sterh₃- "to spread, extend, stretch out". Such a link is possible, but if so there's been substantial reanalysis since and more than a little borrowing, so it cannot have held synchronically.

Strȕna is of uncertain etymology. The main suggestions are *sterh₁- "to break, to strip", and *srew- "to flow, to stream". Neither have a plausible relationship to string.

I could not find an etymology for stránac, but noting that the English word "stranger" comes from Latin extrāneus, that the preposition this derives from (extra) has no parallel in Slavic, and that the original PIE preposition this in turn ultimately derives from, *h₁eǵʰs, appears as iz in Croatian, a connection does not seem tenable.

  • A hint on writing reconstructed forms: the Markup parser often gets confused when you use asterisks for the italics if there are multiple italicised words that also begin in asterisks, and then you end up with incorrectly italicised text. If you use underscores for the italics instead, it always works. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 17:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet ah thank you. I thought it was showing properly, but didn't check too carefully
    – Tristan
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 22:00
  • In fact stranac derives from the same root as string. en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B9#. Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 4:11
  • But I do find it curious that stran- is the root for both strange and stranger in both Adriatic Romance and Slavic. Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 4:11
  • @AdamBittlingmayer I don't think that link goes where you intended. I don't see how Slavic stranac could possibly be from the same root as string though. A Slavic c would require a voiceless *k(ʷ) in the PIE, and the vowel between the n and c would require it to be a complex word with a vowel between root and suffix, which is not seen in any of the other forms (and certainly ought to be seen in Greek)
    – Tristan
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 9:40

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