Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the etymology of man

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 20, 2016

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age.

The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (see also German man, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”).

More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”).

In Old English the words wer and wīf (and wīfmann) were used to refer to “a man” and “a woman” respectively, while mann had the primary meaning of “adult male human” but could also be used for gender neutral purposes (as is the case with modern German man, corresponding to the pronoun in the English utterance “one does what one must”).

However, man in traditional usage (without an article) refers to the species, to humanity, or “mankind”, as a whole. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone.

Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages, for example in French (l’Homme). On the other hand, some languages have a general word for ‘human individual’ which can apply to people of either gender. German has the general word Mensch, but Mann for (adult) male person; Latin has the general word homo and for males the word vir.

It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-.

Some etymologies treat the root as an independent one, as does the American Heritage Dictionary. Of the etymologies that do make connections with other Indo-European roots, man “the thinker” is the most traditional — that is, the word is connected with the root *men- “to think” (cognate to mind).

This etymology relies on humans describing themselves as “those who think” (see Human self-reflection). This etymology, however, is not generally accepted. A second potential etymology connects with Latin manus (“hand”), which has the same form as Sanskrit manus.

Another speculative etymology postulates the reduction of the ancestor of “human” to the ancestor of “man”. Human is from *dhghem-, “earth”, thus implying *(dh)ghom-on- would be an “earthdweller”. The latter word, when reduced to just its final syllable, would be merely *m-on-.

This is the view of Eric Partridge, Origins, under man. Such a derivation might be credible if only the Germanic form was known, but the attested Indo-Iranian manu virtually excludes the possibility. Moreover, *(dh)ghom-on- is known to have survived in Old English not as mann but as guma, the ancestor of the second element of the Modern English word bridegroom.

In the late twentieth century, the generic meaning of “man” declined (but is also continued in compounds “mankind”, “everyman”, “no-man”, etc.). The same thing has happened to the Latin word homo: in most of the Romance languages, homme, uomo, om, hombre, homem have come to refer mainly to males, with a residual generic meaning.

In Norse mythology, Huginn (from Old Norse “thought”) and Muninn (Old Norse “memory” or “mind”) are a pair of ravens that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring information to the god Odin.

Hu

Hugiz: mind; thought; sense; understanding

Old Norse Hugsa means to remember

Hu: From earlier hugge ‎(“to embrace”) (1560), probably representing a conflation of huck ‎(“to crouch, huddle down”) and Old Norse hugga ‎(“to comfort, console”), from hugr ‎(“courage”), from Proto-Germanic *hugiz ‎(“mind, sense”), cognate with Icelandic hugga ‎(“to comfort”), Old English hyge ‎(“thought, mind, heart, disposition, intention, courage, pride”).

The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory. The mind is the faculty of a human being’s reasoning and thoughts. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.

The original meaning of Old English gemynd was the faculty of memory, not of thought in general. Hence call to mind, come to mind, keep in mind, to have mind of, etc. The word retains this sense in Scotland. Old English had other words to express “mind”, such as hyge “mind, spirit”.

The meaning of “memory” is shared with Old Norse, which has munr. The word is originally from a PIE verbal root *men-, meaning “to think, remember”, whence also Latin mens “mind”, Sanskrit manas “mind” and Greek “mind, courage, anger”.

The generalization of mind to include all mental faculties, thought, volition, feeling and memory, gradually develops over the 14th and 15th centuries.

Human: From Proto-Germanic *gumô, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰmṓ, *dʰǵʰm̥mō. Germanic cognates include Old Saxon gumo, Old High German gumo, gomo, Old Norse gumi (Template:cogis and Norwegian gume), Gothic ‎(guma). The Indo-European root is also the source of Latin homō, Baltic *žmo- (Lithuanian žmogùs).

Borrowing from Middle French humain, from Latin hūmānus ‎(“of or belonging to a man, human, humane”), from homo ‎(“man, human”). Spelling human has been predominant since the early 18th century.

In common usage, the word “human” generally refers to the only extant species of the genus Homo — anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens.

In scientific terms, the meanings of “hominid” and “hominin” have changed during the recent decades with advances in the discovery and study of the fossil ancestors of modern humans.

The English adjective human is a Middle English loanword from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective form of homō “man.” The word’s use as a noun (with a plural: humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man can refer to the species generally (a synonym for humanity), and could formerly refer to specific individuals of either sex, though this latter use is now obsolete.

The species binomial Homo sapiens was coined by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae. The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō “man,” ultimately “earthly being” (Old Latin hemō a cognate to Old English guma “man,” from PIE dʰǵʰemon-, meaning “earth” or “ground”).

The species-name sapiens means “wise” or “sapient.” Note that the Latin word homo refers to humans of either gender, and that sapiens is the singular form (while there is no such word as sapien).

Displaced Old English guma (whence Modern English groom), with which it is cognate, and wer. From Middle English wer, from Old English wer ‎(“a male being, man, husband, hero”), from Proto-Germanic *weraz ‎(“man”), from Proto-Indo-European *wiHrós ‎(“man, freeman”). Cognate with Middle High German wër ‎(“man”), Swedish värbror ‎(“brother-in-law”), Norwegian verfader ‎(“father-in-law”), Latin vir ‎(“man, husband”).

Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”). Virility as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars.

Virtus was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, “man”). It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors, and was personified as a deity—Virtus.

In Roman mythology, Virtus was the deity of bravery and military strength, the personification of the Roman virtue of virtus. The Greek equivalent deity was Arete. He/she was identified with the Roman god Honos (personification of honour) and was often honoured together with him, such as in the Temple of Virtus and Honos at the Porta Capena in Rome itself.

This deity was represented in a variety of ways, for example, on the coins of Tetricus, it can appear as a matron, an old man, or a young man, with a javelin or only clothed in a cape. Within the realm of funerary reliefs Virtus is never shown without a male companion. Often her presence within this realm of art is to compliment and provide assistance to the protagonist of the relief during a scene of intense masculinity or bravery.

We recognize the root HU in Human. The root word man comes from Sanskrit mana meaning mind. Humans are thinking beings. Humans have minds. HU is reflected in the unit mind (mana) to form a human being. Hu-mana expresses the essential quality of human beings which is the capacity of comprehension and contemplation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: