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Apple juice

The carton of apple juice I got from our local supermarket the other day comes from Poland. It's obviously made for export, as the contents are described thus on the side:
  • Apple drink
  • Яблочный напиток
  • Obuoulių gėrimas
  • Ābolu dzēriens
  • Ябълкоба напитка
  • Suc de mere
What struck me (apart from the sheer mind-boggling fact that these languages, firmly behind the Iron Curtain twenty years ago, are now on display in Tesco's) was that the root for "apple" (and Dutch appel, German Apfel; plus, I am told, Irish abhal and úll and Welsh afal) clearly also lies behind Russian яблоко, Lithuanian obuolys, Latvian ābols and Bulgarian ябълка. A bit of googling reveals that this is an ancient root, but one found only in the northern European languages, which makes me suspect it may not be quite as ancient. Though the Finnish and Estonian words, omena and õun, look quite different and perhaps closer to Hungarian alma, Turkish elma, Mongolian alim. But perhaps not.

(The Romanian word măr is presumably from Latin malus/malum, badly corrupted I admit but no worse than Spanish manzana or Portuguese maçã.)

Rather surprisingly, the root of Romanian "suc" meaning "juice" is thought to be completely different from the root of Slavic "sok"/"сок" also meaning "juice". Which seems a bit improbable to me; one almost imagines Slavicists bending over backwards to prove the relationship of sok/сок with the Albanian word for blood and the Latvian and Lithuanian words for tar rather than accept the possibility of an early derivation from Latin sucus.

Only the Romanian translator was bold enough to call the liquid in the carton "juice", everyone else going for "drink". The Slavic verb пить/пити is related to Latin bibere and its descendants (French boire, Italian bere) and more obviously to Greek ποτο. Meanwhile the Latvian and Lithuanian words dzēriens and gėrimas come from an Indo-European stem meaning "devour" or "consume", which appears indeed in the second syllable of "devour" and in Russian "жрать" meaning the same.

So that's what I learnt from my breakfast drink.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
The last line of this post really made me want to give you a big hug.

Don't ever stop, will you?
Aug. 16th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
The Irish for juice is Sú, pronounced Soo. Not a million miles from Juice/Jus, i'd imagine.
Aug. 16th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
For some reason they seem to think that Sú (originally suth) is a different root, related to English "soggy".
Aug. 16th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
I find etymology fascinating but I can't read these other alphabets at all. :(
Aug. 16th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
have you read Renfrew's Archaeology of Language? It was published just before my Part I, and as he was our Prof & HOD we all correctly surmised that there would be questions on it in the exam.

It's really not my cup of tea, and dim memory suggests that I found a number of his connections a tad tenuous, but if memory serves me correctly the essential thrust was that the appearance of Indo-European languages broadly corresponded with the spread of early agricultural societies across Europe, and that Finno-Ugaric, Basque and other 'remnant' language groups were likely the survivors of earlier European mesolithic/palaeolithic language groups.

As a general rule I was always very impressed by Renfrew as an academic and as a superb lecturer, although I sincerely doubt this was anything like his strongest area of work. He was the first person (as far as I know) to explore this aspect in modern archaeological thought. Just thought you might be interested if you haven't encountered it before.

Edited at 2008-08-16 01:45 pm (UTC)
Aug. 16th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Is there a debate over whether it's a romance language or a slavonic language?
Aug. 16th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Romanian
No, not really - a Romance language with a lot of external inputs.
Aug. 16th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe Romanian law is laxer on the amount of adulteration permitted to what can be described as "juice".
Aug. 16th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
We all come from Kazakhstan, then?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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