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From the etymology of and:

Old English and, ond, originally meaning "thereupon, next," from Proto-Germanic *unda (cf. Old Saxon endi, Old Frisian anda, Middle Dutch ende, Old High German enti, German und, Old Norse enn), from PIE *en; cognate with Latin ante, Greek anti (see ante). Phrase and how as an exclamation of emphatic agreement dates from early 1900s.

Since "and" is one of the most common words, I had expected it to trace back all the way to PIE, like words like mother or father, for example, but instead it seems it meant "thereupon, next" as recently as Old English.

So, I have these questions:

  • Is "and" a recent word?
  • If so, what word performed its function before that?
  • Did PIE have an unrelated word for "and", and if so, why did such a common word fall away from usage?
  • Is "and" a cognate to Latin "et"?

3 Answers 3

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From the quote in your question you can see that and derives from Proto-Germanic so I don't think that we can call it "recent".

Also, according to the quote in your question, and is related to Latin ante and not to Latin et.

PIE *-kʷe (IELex) is generally given as "and" which is related to Latin -que and, according to Wikipedia, to English (thou)gh.

I believe it's unlikely for historical linguistics to be able to answer the "why" question in this case.

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    Thanks for the answer, the link you mention is at wiktionary.org. Is it a reliable etymology? Anyone could have written it. They give a warning that "This entry includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this entry by introducing more precise citations, inserting <ref> tags where appropriate".
    – sashoalm
    Jan 8, 2014 at 18:30
  • I understand. Are you expecting a publicly available, online source or would you prefer a citation from a published etymological dictionary? Jan 8, 2014 at 19:36
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    @sashoalm There is a way to know, by proxy, who on this site "knows a lot about the subject": it's the reputation score. As you provide answers and comments, other users of the site either vote them up for usefulness or the opposite - and you get rewarded/substracted reputation points for that. Over time the effect is cumulative so if you see an answer from someone who has a very large reputation, you know it comes from someone perceived as knowledgeable by the community.
    – Joe Pineda
    Jan 8, 2014 at 23:04
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    @sashoalm: Are you aware that "anyone could've written" the etymology on etymonline as well? There's no "the etymology" just as there's no "the dictionary". The person behind etymonline is not a professional etymologist, lexicographer, or linguist as far as I can recall. They do an excellent job I have to say. But that doesn't mean we know if they copy them straight out of Wester's, out of the OED, hunt through obscure etymologial dictionaries, keep up with current etymological work by professional, throw in their own theories, etc. Often different sources will have different etyms ... Jan 9, 2014 at 16:30
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    Actually etymonline does tell us their sources these days, and perhaps always did. What I said was based on some correspondence from some years ago. Still, while it should be more reliable than Wiktionary, neither should be regarded as perfect or as rubbish. Both will have some out of date entries or not cover all competing theories for some entries. Jan 9, 2014 at 16:35
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English word "and" is cognate to another English word "end", both originating from PIE root a̯ent- meaning "end" (a̯entom literally meant "end" in PIE). The meaning shifted to "in front of" as in a̯enti and later to "near", "next", "besides".

The meaning of "and" was conducted in PIE with a clitic -q̆e(t) which was attached to the last word, like Latin -que ("senatus populusque", which means "senate and the people"). This clitic comes from the same root as the PIE word q̆eta̯ "pair" and has pre-PIE origin (cognates produced the numerals for "two" in Uralic languages).

There was no conjunction "and" in PIE, although, one could use the adverb e̯eti meaning "in addition", "also", "besides".

This word exactly evolved into Latin conjunction "et".

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  • You say "The meaning of 'and' was conducted in PIE with a clitic -q̆e", but then you say "There was no conjunction 'and' in PIE". So do you mean that there was a word 'and', but no conjunction 'and'? Or, to put it another way - was q̆e as frequently used in PIE as it is used in English?
    – sashoalm
    Jan 10, 2014 at 11:38
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    @sashoalm it was a clitic, not conjunction.
    – Anixx
    Jan 10, 2014 at 17:33
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    Are your letters ‹e̯›, ‹a̯› equivalent to ‹h₁›, ‹h₂›? Nov 3, 2019 at 3:51
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    Why do you say *h₂ent- meant "end"? Anatolian evidence seems to point to "front" or "fore".
    – Draconis
    Feb 8, 2021 at 22:32
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    Why has this answer been upvoted? There is definitely no consensus in the field that the Indo-European and Uralic languages are genetically related, nor any widespread belief in the field that the Uralic numeral ‘two’ derives from the same source as that Indo-European item whether through mutual inheritance or borrowing. This is a crank answer.
    – user41876
    Aug 25, 2023 at 9:37
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Is "and" a recent word?: No; it's been used for at least 2,000 years. The same word occurs in other Germanic languages such as German 'und'. It is a variant of teh word 'end' which has a good I-E history.

If so, what word performed its function before that?: Germanic also had an ending -ḫwe added to the second word in the 'and' construction that existed into written times in Gothic and was related to Latin '-que'.

Did PIE have an unrelated word for "and", and if so, why did such a common word fall away from usage? See the last answer; it fell out of use because when Germanic became a strongly first syllable stress language (sometime before or as it split into its descendants) final syllables became unstressed. You can see the problem if you consider it would have become Modern english '-gh'.

Is "and" a cognate to Latin "et"? No

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