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2009 | 44 | 153-173

Article title

THE POLISH WORDS 'KOBIETA' AND 'MEZCZYZNA' IN THE ASPECT OF ETYMOLOGY AND CULTURAL STUDIES AGAINST THE SLAVIC BACKGROUND (Polskie wyrazy 'kobieta' i 'mezczyzna' w aspekcie etymologicznym i kulturoznawczym na tle slowianskim)

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The Indoeuropean words designing adults of both genders probably date back to the polygamist times and their semantics refer to procreation capacities. The Proto- -Slavic word *zena 'woman' (- Pol. zona 'wife') comes from the root *gen - 'to give birth', which is known in Greek and Latin. The word *maz. 'man' (- Pol. maz 'husband'), coming from the root *men - 'to protrude, project, protuberate, to tower', has a parallel in Germanic languages (Eng. man) and, with a different evolution of the meaning, in Latin (mons 'mountain'). The Balkan languages have conserved the primary meaning of the words *zena and *moz.. In the Middle Ages, the words 'zenszczyzna' i 'mezczyzna' were used in Polish in reference to adults of respective genders. The former has disappeared and has been replaced by the word 'kobieta', known only in Polish. The dialectal form 'kobito' (f), retained until today, indicates that in Old Polish it was an adjective: *kobita zona 'clairvoyant (fortune telling) woman', formed with the -ita(ja) suffix from the noun *kob. 'prediction, augury, good / bad fate', whose Indo-European root *kob- has equivalents in many languages, i. a. Eng. happy. In Polish, this word has disappeared, leaving only one word derived from it: kobuz 'Eurasian Hobby' (Falco subbuteo L). Even though around 30 different etymologies were created in the 20th century, the origins of that word have never been fully proven. Some of the theories were also referring to the *kob- root, but the authors didn't take into account the contemporary Balkan languages, where around 50 words derived from this root exist. It was mainly basing on this material that the existing hypothesis concerning the etymology of the word 'kobieta' was confirmed.






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  • Wlodzimierz Pianka, Uniwersytet Warszawski, InNstytut Slawistyki Zachodniej i Poludniowej, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


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