Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

  • Mood:

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.
Tags: alphabets, linguistics
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