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- June 15, 2017 at 10:10 am #347286
I am bored again so I’ll post
something. As probably many know already, plenty of Slavic languages
use other ethymology for the names of months. Since it’s June, it’s
good to know how it’s called in other Slavic languages, and why it’s
called that way. Of course, I am only translating the text, the
source is at the bottom.
June begins. The month beloved by many,
commonly connected with the end of school and the beginning of the
holiday season. For ancient Slavs June was a month of transition from
spring to summer. It’s in this month when Kupala Night takes place,
the shortest night of the year (21-22 of June). Also, what’s
interesting, in Slavic naming of sixth month of the year, there are
no proven connections of this month with celebrating the summer
solstice. What informations about our ancestors’ lives are preserved
in the name of this month?
Why the Poles call the sixth month as
“czerwiec”? The most obvious connotation is with red colour
[czerwony (adj), czerwień (noun)] and it’s not necessarily wrong,
but the original motivation is more distant in time – in times when
the colour similar to human blood was not yet called “czerwony”.
So popular nowadays words, such as “czerwiec” and
“czerwony” have same word formative motivation, and it’s a
small, very pleasant creature.
The explanation of ethymology of
“czerwiec” and “czerwony” is very simple. Both
words are derived from “czerwiec polski” [Polish cochineal]
– a useful bug, thanks to which it was possible to produce the red
stain, later called “czerwony”. In a very close relation
with this certain bug is a word “czerw”, which in Polish
language is used to describe a maggot. This word is connected with
reconstructed proto-Slavic root *čŕvь – insect’s larva. It’s
supposed that red colour in the distant past was called “krasny”,
but nowadays it’s a synonyme of beautiful. The dictionaries, however,
do note the second meaning of this adjective – light red.
In the Middle Ages, red stain
[koszenila – carminic acid] was produced in June. Certain people were
beginning the harvest from a plant called “czerwiec trwały”
[perennial knawel]. At first the larva of the Polish cochineal was
collected, from which the stain was extracted. It was impossible
before, as females of this little creature start to oviposit the eggs
at the beginning of June.
During the Middle Ages the stain
extracted from the cochineal was one of the main export goods of
Poland and Lithuania. Also, it’s not a coincidence that in
nomenclature is a visible reference to our country – Porphyrophora
polonica. With the discovery of America the popularity of the stain
extracted from Polish cochineal began to decrease, in accordance to
discovering of cheaper equivalent that was collected from another
cochineal – Dactylopius coccus. In “Herbarz polski” [Polish
herbal] the insect was described by Marcin of Urzędów (16th
“Czerwiec is a seed, that is
harvested in Poland in May from below the ground. The most is
harvested near Łowicz, Rawa, Warszawa, as it’s a custom there; it’s
common everywhere in Poland, but they don’t care. The seed is red,
small […] it’s digged from the ground, from below the roots; in May
they blossom, and when June comes they become the insects and fly
away. These bugs glow at June’s night and are commonly called by
people as “czerwiec”. In Venice it’s an expensive good, as
for a pound of this seed one has to give four Venetian pounds, for a
second five, almost our złoty [currency, but I’m not sure how much
złoty was worth in 16th century]. I am writing this so everyone will
start to harvest them, as Polish cochineal is the most noble. In
Venice they dye expensive and silky things, and those silky things
that are dyed in Polish cochineal are called Kermezyn [Magenta].”
After being substituted by its cheaper
equivalent, the stain made of Polish cochineal survived in folklore
until 19th century. It was used to dye the corsets or horse’s tails.
Some parts of the larva was used in folk medicine. Even in 20th
century there were cases of colouring vodka with Polish cochineal.
With time, however, Polish cochineal became almost completely
forgotten, which results in the complications of explaining the
month’s name – czerwiec.
In archaic Polish language the sixth
month was also called “czyrwień”, “ugornik” or
“zok”. “Czyrwień” is of course derived from the
word “czerwiec”. “Ugornik” on the other hand, is
derived from “ugór”, which is preparing the field for
cultivation. The mysterious word “zok” can be explained on
the basis of connotations with old Bulgarian “zokъ” and a
grasshopper. Polish cochineal is not the only creature that in June
starts to reveal itself more often to the people. In this time the
grasshoppers and locust is being more present as well.
Among other Slavic countries, the sixth
month is called similarly by the Czechs – “červen”,
Ukrainians – “Червень (Chervenʹ)”, Belarusians –
“чэрвеня (červienia)” and Kashubians – “czerwińc”.
The similarity of the names among other Slavic nations suggests, that
similar harvest was practised not only on Polish land, but also among
other Slavs. With naming the Croats stood away and called June as
“lipanj” – the month of linden. This name can be connected
with our “lipiec” [July] that also is named after the
linden which blossom in June and July.
Other Slavic nations accepted Latin
terminology, where name “Iunius” is derived from Juno – a
Roman goddess of women and motherhood, wife of Jupiter. Bulgarian –
“юни (yuni)”, Macedonian “јуни (juni)”,
Russian “июнь (iyun’)”, Serbian “јун (jun)”,
Slovak “jún” and Slovene “junij”. In the context
of native naming, it’s worth of mentioning also Lower and Upper
Sorbian names “smažki” and “smažnik”, as if
would refer to broiling on the sun [name similar to Polish “smażyć
się”].June 15, 2017 at 11:07 am #438417
I never realized before that crv/červ and color crvena/červená were connected.June 15, 2017 at 11:54 am #438419
Hm, at first I suspected the words are related since are extremely similar, but couldn’t explain why. Now I know.June 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm #438447
@Dušan Same here.
@GaiusCoriolanus Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
You make me wondering which was first: žltá or žltačka.June 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm #438450
What is “žltá”? A yellow colour simply?June 15, 2017 at 6:44 pm #438451
Žltá, oranžová, fialová, červená, zelená, modrá, ružová, hnedá, zlatá, strieborná, biela, čierna, sivá…
We use -á at the end. It’s in a feminine form because the word for color in Slovak is farba, which is feminine… So it’s žltá farba.June 15, 2017 at 7:22 pm #438453
I have no idea about the ethymology, but will look it up one day. Or maybe even simply later.
If “farba” is colour, then how is “paint”? Farba means paint in PolishJune 15, 2017 at 7:33 pm #438456
Do you mean the liquid? It’s called farba as well.
If you mean the verb to paint, then it’s maľovať.June 15, 2017 at 7:37 pm #438457
This is fascinating. Was this stain used to dye threads for embroidery?June 15, 2017 at 7:58 pm #438458
@”Kapitán Denis”, yeah I meant liquid. So it’s farba as well, “malovat” seems familiar too
@Karpivna, I’m not sure, but I think it was. But it’s just my thinking, based on the info that it was one of the main export goods, so other nations needed it, like there would be not many candidates for red – and it were plenty of it in that part of Europe. Still guessing though, there could also be some other red stains.June 15, 2017 at 10:00 pm #438466
@”Kapitán Denis” As far I as I know žltá comes from Indo-European, Slavic words for yellow, green and for gold (zlato) have the same Indo-European origin.June 15, 2017 at 10:09 pm #438468
Now that you guys mention it. Is there a Slavic word for color? Most South Slavs use “boja” that comes from Turkish, there’s also “farba”/”barva” in the west and “kolor” for the rest. Only Russians and Bulgarians use Slavic word for it, but when I hear “цвет”/”цвят” (tsvyet/tsvyat) I think of flowers, not colors.June 15, 2017 at 10:18 pm #438470
@Dušan I would like to know that too.June 15, 2017 at 10:33 pm #438471
There is a word “maść” in Polish that currently is used to describe the colour of a horse for example (there’s also another meaning but not related). I think in Old Polish it could’ve been used in the context of colour in general.
EDIT: I just checked the ethymology in some dictionary from 1927, and indeed “maść” is the only originally Slavic word that was used in the context of colour.June 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm #438473
@GaiusCoriolanus I can’t help but think of grease or fat…
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