Word-A-Week in Indo-European
 
About us Word-A-Week Archive Main page
 
Today's Word: *gwen-
   
Translation:  a woman, a wife
   
Related to: Greek gunh (a woman, a wife) - from *guna
  Latin - not found, another stem is used: fem-
  Common Celtic *bena (a woman), gen. sg. *bns (of a woman) > 
Old Irish ben, Irish Gaelic bean, Scottish Gaelic bean, Manx ben, Cornish benen, Welsh benyw
  Common Hitto-Luwian *gwana (a woman) 
Luwian wanatti
  Avestan g@n (a woman) > 
Persian & Tadjik zan
  Sanskrit janis, gn (a woman, a goddess) > 
Kashmiri zanana, Singhalese gani
Phrygian bon-ekos (a wife) - a suffix added
Armenian kin (a woman, a wife), gin
Tocharian A s'n (a woman), Tocharian B s'ana - this strange change of gw > s' is regular in Tocharian
Common Germanic *kwaen-, *kwen- (woman) > 
Gothic qino (a woman), qns (a queen), Old English cwn (woman, wife, queen), Old High German cwn, Old Norse kwaen
English queen, Scottish queyn (a queen), Swedish kvinna (a woman), Icelandic kona, kvennmaor, Faroese kona, Danish kvinde, Dutch kween (old cow), Frisian kwyn
  Common Baltic *gen- (a woman) > 
Old Prussian voc. sg. genno (woman!), *gen (a wife, a woman), Sudovian *gen (a woman, a wife)
  Common Slavic *z'ena (a woman) > 
Belorussian z'ana, Bulgarian & Polish & Serbo-Croatian & Slovene & Czech & Slovak & Ukrainian & Russian z'ena, Sorbian z'ona
 
Notes: The stem must be rather archaic - the original meaning was not just "a woman", but "an honoured woman", which witnesses that it was born in ancient matriarchate times. Germanic meaning "queen" and Sanskrit "goddess" make this more than just a version. 
The gender is in most cases feminine, which is natural; however, Old English is neuter. In majority of languages this noun was of a-stems.
 
Next issue