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Origin of word Vatican and other false cognates

aleena

New Member

A user comment on a website states the following as the origin of the word "Vatican":
The word Vatican comes from Old Latin ‘vatis’ = prophetic & ‘can’ = serpent/dragon.
Is this true? Wiktionary had nothing on the origin of the word, so I was hoping that someone here might have the answers.


This may be in a wrong forum. If so, would a moderator kindly move this topic?
 

Imprecator

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Re: Origin of word "Vatican"

It comes from the name of the hill, Mons Vaticanus. It is unconnected to Latin vates (oracle) and it appears to be an Etruscan name.
 
 

cinefactus

Censor

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Re: Origin of word "Vatican"

Not to mention that I have not heard of this word can meaning dragon, serpent or anything else...
 

Nooj

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Re: Origin of word "Vatican"

Complete nonsense and obviously a partisan attack.
 

Imber Ranae

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Re: Origin of word "Vatican"

The precise etymology of Vātīcānus is unknown, though as Imprecator says it's likely from an Etruscan place-name of uncertain origin. The word is actually an adjective with the masculine noun mons ("hill" or "mount") usually left implied, its root being Vātīc- and -ānus being a masculine adjectival termination.

The assertion that can* is a Latin word, much less that it means "serpent" or "dragon", is utter bollocks. Latin has a variety of words for snakes, but none look anything like "can" or "canus". The association of the noun vātēs "prophet" and the verb vāticinor "to prophesy" with the name has some legitimacy, however, as this was a popular folk etymology suggested by the Romans themselves, particularly in the Christian era. There is no evidence, however, that prophets or prophecy had anything to do with the hill or its environs in pagan times.

Also, I'd stay away from that website.
 

Somdev Roy

New Member

Re: Origin of word "Vatican"

The precise etymology of Vātīcānus is unknown, though as Imprecator says it's likely from an Etruscan place-name of uncertain origin. The word is actually an adjective with the masculine noun mons ("hill" or "mount") usually left implied, its root being Vātīc- and -ānus being a masculine adjectival termination.

The assertion that can* is a Latin word, much less that it means "serpent" or "dragon", is utter bollocks. Latin has a variety of words for snakes, but none look anything like "can" or "canus". The association of the noun vātēs "prophet" and the verb vāticinor "to prophesy" with the name has some legitimacy, however, as this was a popular folk etymology suggested by the Romans themselves, particularly in the Christian era. There is no evidence, however, that prophets or prophecy had anything to do with the hill or its environs in pagan times.

Also, I'd stay away from that website.
Is it possible that the word Vatican is taken from the Sanskrit word Vatika which means a home or a place? Sanskrit is supposed to be the mother of all Indo-European languages. Just a thought but it makes a lot of sense to me.
 

Aurifex

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Is it possible that the word Vatican is taken from the Sanskrit word Vatika which means a home or a place? Sanskrit is supposed to be the mother of all Indo-European languages.
If the word entered Latin via Etruscan, it's unlikely that Sanskrit had anything to do with it since Etruscan is not thought to be an Indo-European language.
 

Laurentius

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I read a joke once that it comes from Sanskrit Vasikaran, mental control.
 

Iohannes Aurum

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Ealdboc Aethelheall

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Sanskrit is supposed to be the mother of all Indo-European languages.
It is not. It is simply one of the earliest attested Indo-European languages. As it has left extensive written evidence its study has contributed greatly to our understanding of the Indo-European language family.

The ancestral language of the Indo-European languages is hypothetical; there are no writted sources so that every single word and structure has to be reconstructed on the basis of the descendant languages, in particular early ones such as Latin, Greek and, of course, Sanskrit.
 

Hawkwood

.

  • Civis

That "dog" false cognate is really weird. o_O
Clutching at straws here but I wonder if 'dog' orginates from the short stabbing bark sound that some dogs make. Or even the fact that the word & the man dog relationship goes way way back before we began to seperate & spread around the globe, thus taking the word into different tribal dialects.
 

Nikolaos

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No, that's falling into the trap of believing they are cognate. From the article:

As an example of false cognates, the word for "dog" in the Australian Aboriginal language Mbabaram happens to be dog, although there is no common ancestor or other connection between that language and English (the Mbabaram word evolved regularly from a protolinguistic form *gudaga).
 

Pacifica

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Still, how can we be sure they didn't have a common ancestor in a veeeeery old language? I'd say we just cannot know.
 

Aurifex

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Still, how can we be sure they didn't have a common ancestor in a veeeeery old language? I'd say we just cannot know.
You're right, but what you say is beside the point, unless you're implying that the reason for the convergence of dog in English and dog in Mbabaramis is that they can both be traced to a common protolinguistic ancestor; and if you're implying that I'm afraid you have zero evidence to support your claim.
 

Pacifica

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Wow, wow, keep calm, all I'm claiming is that we just can't know whether they had common ancestor in some completely obliterated language or not. Thay may have had one, they may not have. If they had, we'll probably never find any evidence indeed, the language being obliterated... So we can make a lot of theories, but we'll just never know.
 

Pacifica

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Ok, severely calm. ;)
 

Nikolaos

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It's true that they may have started at some common point, but then we may on the same grounds suggest that canis, dog, and inu (Japanese) are cognate. Or, we might suppose that "rice" and "ocean" are cognate.
 
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