Thursday, 13 June 2013

jealous, zealous, जादू

So a friend of mine was wondering when jealous and envious both came to mean "possessiveness about someone else's stuff". Only envious should be used in this way, he felt. I decided to look into it, because that's the sort of service we provide here at Bradshaw of the Future. But it turns out that Gabe at Motivated Grammar has already covered it, and covered it much better than I could. (Both words have been used this way since at least 1385.)

But I discovered a few other interesting things. For instance jealous and zealous are both derived from late Latin zēlōsus, the adjective form of zēlus which was borrowed from Greek ζῆλος (zēlos) "jealousy, fervour, zeal". jealous is thru Old French gelos (derived from zēlōsus), while zealous was borrowed straight from Latin zēlōsus.

The reason why we don't have a word *jeal to correspond with zeal is… well, I guess there is no reason. zeal is borrowed from late Latin zēlus, but an Old French reflex of zēlus, if one ever existed, wasn't borrowed into English as *jeal.

ζῆλος is from Proto-Indo-European *yeh₂- meaning "seek, request, desire" in the AHD and "to be angry, to be punished, also to invoke, to bless" in the IEW.

According to the IEW, derivatives include Sanskrit यातु yātu "witchcraft" and Avestan yā-tū- "magic". The semantic shift from either "seek, request" or "to invoke" to "magic" doesn't seem implausible to me.

The Avestan is related to Persian جادو jādū "magic", which was borrowed into Hindi as जादू jādū.

When I think of jadoo, of course I think of this magical song from my favourite Hindi film, Koi Mil Gaya. It will bewitch you.

2 comments :

Glen Gordon said...

The path from "to request" to "magic, witchcraft" is interesting. In Coptic, "magic" is mtau or literally "words". So in essence "magic" amounts to pleading with nature to do our will.

Glen Gordon said...

The path from "to request" to "magic, witchcraft" is interesting. In Coptic, "magic" is mtau or literally "words". So in essence "magic" amounts to pleading with nature to do our will.