I have noticed a striking similarity between the French word chien meaning dog and Russian word щенок "puppy", the both words pronounced exactly the same way except the deminutive suffix -ок in the Russian word.

Initially I thought is was a borrowing from French to Russian. But it turned out not the case.

French chien comes from PIE cu̯ōn "dog"

Russian щенок comes from Proto-Slavic ščenę and is said to be related to Armenian skund, Latin recēns "to start", Greek καινός "new", Indian kániṣṭhas "younger".

This hints that possibly it is the same PIE root, with s-mobile variation.

If they are related, I also wonder, what semantic development is more likely: young->puppy->dog or dog->puppy->young. I think the former.

  • But the first root has a u̯ and the second doesn't, so I don't see how they can be the same root with s-mobile. – TKR Dec 21 '14 at 21:10
  • And no Russian word is pronounced anything like chien, which has a nasal vowel and no consonantal /n/. – Colin Fine Dec 22 '14 at 14:45

The word for ‘dog’ is *ḱuon, hence Skt śvā. The word for ‘young’ is *ken, Skt kanyā etc. The two stems cannot be related.

  • There is a long o in dog. – Anixx Dec 21 '14 at 22:17
  • 1
    In the long grade ablaut, yes. The citation form is in the full grade. – fdb Dec 21 '14 at 22:26
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    To expand on this a bit: Sanskrit has nom. sing. śvā < *ḱuō(n) (long grade ō, Greek κύων), gen. sing. śunas < *ḱun-os (zero grade, Greek κυνός). – fdb Dec 21 '14 at 22:46

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