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Romance words for 'small' (was: Pequeno etc)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Sunday, April 6, 2008, 17:03
While being a bit late to affect the Pilovese word for 'small, little'
(which is derived from the rot I give below as *pikk(u)- with a
diminutive -inn), there has been one thing puzzling - also I would like
to add my tuppence-worth of thoughts on the matter - if only to sort out
my own thinking   :)

Firstly, a late Latin _pitzinus_ or _pittin(n)us_ has been cited more
than once. I've tried to track down this word. Can anyone point me to
where this word/ these words are actually attested?

I'm *not* intending to imply that they are not attested. It is a genuine
question. I really would like to know; it really would be helpful to
know both when and where these forms were used.

Now my two-penn'orth:

Haggen Kennedy wrote:
> Hi. :) > > Scotto Hlad wrote: >> So then pequeno and poco come from the same root? > > Er... actually no, I don't believe it does. :/ See below.
Indeed, they don't. 'poco' is derived regularly from Latin _paucu(m)_ = a little [amount[, pl. few. This Latin word clearly existed in Vulgar Latin and survives in all the modern western Romancelangs: Portuguese: pouco Spanish: poco Catalan: poc French: peu Italian: poco Romanian has _puţin_ for this meaning. I guess it must come from some form such as *putinu-, and be connected with Latin _putus/pusus_ (a little boy), _pusillus_ (very little, very small).
> >> Pequeno is derived from pitzinus.
I fail to see how the Spanish & Portuguese words can be derived from this. While it's common enough for velar plosives to become palatalized before front vowels, I know of no examples where an affricate such as /ts/ becomes 'hardened' to a velar plosive before a front vowel. [snip]
> If you read Corominas, he'll say that "pequen-" belongs to > the "la vasta colección de expresiones romances de la idea de pequeñez > (it. pìccolo, piccìno, fr. petit, sardo pithinnu, gascón pouninn, etc.) > constituídas todas ellas por una p inicial, seguida, por lo común, de > vocal aguda, otra oclusiva sorda y en la terminación -innu. En latín > vulgar se encuentra ya pitinnus, y en las formas hispánicas esta > variante se presenta combinada con la consoante interna del tipo > piccolo." (translating: pequen- belongs to the wide collection of > romance expressions of littleness (it. pìccolo, piccìno, fr. petit, > sardo pithinnu, gascón pouninn, etc.), constituted, all of them, of an > initial P, usually followed by an acute vowel, of another unvoiced > occlusive and of the ending -innu. In Vulgar Latin, there already exists > [the word] pitinnus, and, in the Hispanic model, this variant presents > itself combined with the inner consonant of the type "piccolo".)
Which seems to imply that the Spanish & Portuguese forms are portmanteau forms, combining _pitinu(m)_ with *pikk, and that surely implies that the two words are from different sources. It is not altogether clear to me whether Corominas is implying that the various Romance words - pìccolo, piccìno, petit, pithinnu, pouninn - are all related, or whether he is merely recoding that coincidentally they all begin with P- etc. If the Iberian forms are portmanteau formations (and such things are not unknown in Romance, e.g. Fr. chaque, It. ciascuno <-- Lat. quisque etc + Greek 'kata' [cf. Sp. cada]; Fr. craindre <-- Old Fr. criembre <-- Gallic 'krit-' + Lat. tremere), then it seems to me to imply that _pitinnus_ and *picc- are two separate forms. [snip]
> > Meyer-Lübkes conclusion is that the root of > > the Spanish _pequeño_ is unknown. > > As far as I know, there isn't a consensus yet, although most Romance > etymologists tend to agree that it comes from the source I mention in > the beginning of this e-mail.
AFAIK also there isn't a consensus. The 'safe' position is that given by Meyer-Lübkes; but I do find the 'portmanteau' possibility attractive. ------------------------------- Benct Philip Jonsson wrote: > You may have noticed that I avoided stating a personal opinion, but I > actually believe there must have been a root *pik- in some substrate > language **in Italy** which got picked up into Vulgar Latin in two > different dialect forms */pikkin/ and */pik;k;in/, plus possibly an > unsuffixed form */pikk/ which then spread across the empire with VL > itself. But it wasn't, was it? Even if one accepts that the various words mentioned by Corominas are related, they are all _western_ Romance. The Romanian word for 'small, little [in size]' is _mic_ and this, surely, must come from a different source. The latter, I guess, is related to Latin _mica_ (a little bit, a crumb). If words are common to western Romance only, then Gallic seems to me a more likely source. It is well known that several words of Gallic origin were borrowed early and became part of western Vulgar Latin, e.g. alauda (lark), beccu(m) (beak), braga (breeches), cabbalu(m) (horse), cambiare (to change) etc. Other Gallic borrowings seem to have been confined to the Vulgar Latin of Gaul, e.g. bodina (--> Old Fr. bodne --> Fr. borne "boundary mark"), carruca (--> Fr. charrue "plow/plough"). It seems to me that the French, Occitan and Catalan _petit_ belongs to the last category. This is likely to be from *pettittu-, a derivative of the Gallic base *pett-, cf. Welsh _peth_ "thing", Breton _pez_ "piece, bit" , i.e. *pettittu- originally a colloquial or slang word, rather like English "bitsy, itsy-bitsy"
> ither long or short by Latin speakers. In Italian a change of suffix, > or the addition of a Latin suffix on the unsuffixed form gave PICCULU.
Wouldn't a Vulgar Latin *picculu(m) have given Italian *picchio, cf. occhio <-- oculu(m), vecchio <-- *veklu- <-- vetulu(m) etc? It seems to me more likely that the Italian _piccino_ and _piccolo_ are post-VL formation, peculiar to Italy. ---------------------------------------- Eric Christopherson wrote: [snip] > I think it's possible that the variation tt ~ kk ~ kk; ~ ts might have > come from "childish" pronunciations of the word; It's possible, but if French/Occitan/Catalan word is derived from a base *pett- then it seems to me less likely that Italian picc- (<-- *pi:kk-) is likely to be unrelated. While childish pronunciation may account for -tt-/-kk- alternation, the alternation of /E/ ~ /i:/ seems less likely to be accounted for in this way. --------------------------------------------- ROGER MILLS wrote: [snip] > > IIRC there's Spanish "pico" 'little bit' as in "son las tres y pico" > 'it's a little after three (o'clock)'. You do recall correctly. > I don't recall if Italian has it. It is certainly tempting to posit a common root for Spanish _pico_ and Italian _picc-ino/ picc-olo_. The Spanish is just one of the meanings of _pico_ = 'beak, bill [of bird]; sharp point, corner; lip, spout [of jar or pitcher]; pick[ax(e)]; peak, summit; a bit etc. It is related to Old French _pic_ "sharp point, spike", and the verb _piquer_ (<-- *piccare) "to prick, pierce"). The retention of the voiceless /k/ in both French & Spanish point to a western Vulgar Latin *piccu, which is, as far as I can find out, thought t be of Germanic or Celtic origin. It does seem reasonable to suppose that Italian _piccino_ and _piccolo_ originated as colloquialisms for "itsy-bitsy" :) -------------------------------- In short, what I am _suggesting_ is: (a) the French, Occitan & Catalan _petit_ is from a Gallic base *pett- plus diminutive -itt-. (b) the Italian _piccino_ and _piccolo_ are from a base *pi:kk(u)- (of Germanic/ Celtic origin?), with different diminutive endings. (c) the Spanish & Portuguese are formed from *pekk(u)-, being a portmanteau of *pett- and *pikk(u)-, with diminutive ending. But answers to my question about _pitzinus-/ _pitin(n)us_ may change that :) -- Ray ================================== ================================== Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [William of Ockham]


Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>