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Subject: Re: This was very helpful. Thanks!
Author: Cass   (Authenticated as Cass)
Date: August 11, 2006 at 6:28:50 AM
Reply to: This was very helpful. Thanks! by Andy ;—)
It's just a guess on my part; the plant is found all over Europe, and I really doubt that they didn't have a word for it on the Italian peninsula until they met the Greeks. The consonant at the beginning is suggestive, too; a direct borrowing, unless made very early when the digamma was still widely pronounced, wouldn't be likely to preserve it. Furthermore, the Latin viola is feminine and the Greek ion is neuter; when Latin speakers took over a word, they were likely to do it wholesale and since the morphological structures of the two languages are relatively similar, gender and declension are usually preserved. Again, it's just a suspicion, but this is my basis for suspicion.

Also, I suspect there's a bias at work in my mind: I think the tendency to derive Latin words straight from Greek is really overdone! I'm not sure what the L is doing, but I'll see if I can find anything. It doesn't immediately strike me as a diminutive, but I could be wrong.

ETA: Of course viola and Greek (w)iole would correspond exactly, but I can't find the latter at all in any dictionary!

This message was edited by the author on August 11, 2006 at 7:03:43 AM

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