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Latin Help

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Volgadon
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Latin Help

Post by Volgadon » Mon March 30th, 2009, 9:03 pm

Do we have anyone that has studied Latin seriously? I have a question about the word pax. I got into an argument with someone who claims that pax originally meant a fence post. He supplied this snippet from his Latin professor. How true is the following statement?

"Here's the etymology of pax ("peace"). It comes from a verb base *pag- (cf. pango "to fix a stake in the ground") which meant "to settle land disputes by affixing markers in the ground to determine boundaries." To me, this shows the importance of settling land disputes in early Indo-European justice systems. The moving or removal of boundary stones was a source of great conflict in early Mesopotamia, too."

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Mon March 30th, 2009, 9:59 pm

Well, I am certainly no expert, (I studied Latin for 'A' level but have forgotten a lot of it and keep meaning to go back to it!) and I remember hearing the same thing about 'pax' and posts or boundary markers...It makes sense, doesn't it, to bring the concrete idea of a post before the abstract idea of peace...

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon March 30th, 2009, 10:58 pm

If you've ever lived in farm country you know how important the establishment of boundaries is for keeping the peace. I can easily see the connection.

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Mon March 30th, 2009, 11:56 pm

This brings to mind Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall with its line, "Good fences make good neighbors."

http://www.bartleby.com/104/64.html
~Susan~
~Unofficial Royalty~
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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Tue March 31st, 2009, 10:02 am

I mknow that, but my question is does the word pax stem from the term for a fence post.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue March 31st, 2009, 12:37 pm

You could try the online etymological dictionary
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php
Then check out Pax and post. They suggest that Pax was the name of the Roman Goddess of peace. It's not conclusive, but you can perhaps get some peripheral evidence from there.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue March 31st, 2009, 3:12 pm

I am far from an expert and I have a lot of respect for academic linguists, but personally I find talk of Indo-European word roots too conjectural for comfort, however fascinating it may be.

There is no way we will ever know what certain words originally meant or where they came from. And I'm not sure that it really gets us anywhere. Words mean what people use them to mean. And if there's no connection in the minds of those using the words, then for all intents and purposes it isn't there.

Just my own tupporth!!

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