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Peculiar pecuniary fee (was: Epicene words)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Monday, February 28, 2005, 18:47
On Monday, February 28, 2005, at 04:58 , Ph. D. wrote:

> Tristan McLeay wrote: >> >> On 28 Feb 2005, at 5.13 am, caeruleancentaur wrote: >>> >>> It is interesting that the word "cattle" is cognate to "capital." >>> The word originally meant personal property or any livestock. >> >> That is interesting, and I suppose goes some way to explaining the >> grammar of 'cattle'. > > I believe the English word "pecuniary" comes from Latin "pecunia" > meaning "wealth" which comes from Latin "pecus" meaning "cattle."
Yep - _pecu:nia_ certainly means "property, good, wealth" or, commonly in the classical period, simply "money". It is, however, difficult to see how it would derive directly from either of the two Latin words _pecus_. It is surely derived from: pecu: (4th decl. neuter) = cattle, herd, flock; the plural _pecua_ can mean "herds" or "flocks" but was also used to mean "pastures" and in Plautus we find it used colloquially to mean "money". Related are the two words 3rd declension words _pecus_: 1. pecus_ , gen. precudis (stem pecud- [short u] - fem. in singular, neuter in plural = beast, a single head of cattle, one of the flock. 2. _pecus_, gen. _pecoris_ (stem pecor- <-- *pecos- [short vowels]) - neuter = cattle, herd. Very occasionally it was used like the word above to mean 'a beast'. In late Latin and in the Vulgate the two words are confused and the distinction between _pecus_ (fem.) and _pceus_ (neuter) almost disappears; both words tend to be used with the meaning of _pecus, pecudis_. Another related Latin-derived English word is _peculiar_. It derives from the Latin 3rd decl. adjective _pecu:la:ris_ = "belonging to oneself, concerning one's own property", which in turn is derived from: _pecu:lium_ (2nd. decl. neuter) = "property in cattle", "[private] property". All these words are all cognate with Old English _feoh_ "cattle, property" --> mod. English _fee_. Also: German _Vieh_ and Old Norse _fe:_ = "cattle, lifestock". Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]