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On the etymology of “cannabis”
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ReverendCaveGrower
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 5:26 am    Post subject: On the etymology of “cannabis” Reply with quote

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Hey y'all...just putting a write-up of some work I've done on the etymology of the word 'cannabis'. Some of the stuff one encounters out their is either bogus, or based on poor research/poor understanding, or yet worse, put out there to make a quick buck pandering to potheads. If anybody has questions or wants more detailed info, PM me.

I'm a newb when it comes to growing (just check out how many posts I've done on watering schedules LOL - sorry guys), but I do have professional experience with researching etymology...just want to contribute any way I can.

Cheers



On the etymology of “cannabis”

1. Language Change

Before preceding to the actual etymology of “cannabis”, a few basics should be made clear. Etymology, in a ‘real’ or ‘professional’ sense, has more to do with the development and changes in the forms and meanings of words across time. Although people are quite happy to accept certain trivia as ‘etymology’, e.g. that a “sandwich” is named after the Earl of Sandwich, who wanted something to eat between pieces of bread (some say in order to gamble, others in order to hunt), these types of ‘etymology’ do not explain the historical development of a word. For instance, the above “sandwich” example does not indicate where the word “sandwich”, but rather a convenient story as to how the culinary item got its name.

Etymology, moreover, is more than finding two or more words with similar sounds (!not letters! – letters are there just to represent sounds) and similar meanings. Two words which sound alike and have similar meanings are not necessarily related historically to a common source, e.g. the Persian word for ‘bad’ is ‘bad’ – pure coincidence. Linguists apply various methods of analysis in order to distinguish reasonable or probable etymologies from bogus ones. One of the most important is the notion of Regularity of Sound Change. At its most basic, the notion of regularity states that sounds change regularly and without exceptions. Apparent ‘exceptions’ indicate a problematic situation or indicate that the rule describing the change fails to account for all situations. Many of these rules can be quite complex, for which reason, this write-up is going to gloss over many of the technical details to make this as accessible and accurate as possible.

Perhaps one of the most important “Sound Laws” is known as Grimm’s Law (named for Jakob Grimm, the 19th-century linguist and collector of folk-tales, i.e. Grimms’ Fairy Tales). Grimm’s Law is a series of consonant changes which characterize the Germanic language family (English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, etc…) from more distantly related languages in the Indo-European family. A great example of this is seen in the relationship of the consonant, marked by /k/, marked also by the letter ‘c’, and the sound /h/ in Germanic (examples from English will be used):
English: Latin: Greek:
heart cor ‘heart’ kardia 'heart’
hound canis ‘dog’ kuon ‘dog’

As one can see there is a direct correlation between /h/ in Germanic and /k/ in other languages. Although there are many other consonants involved in Grimm’s Law, for our purposes here all that we need to know for now is that /h/ ~ /k/ is a relative set and that /p/ ~ /b/ is another.

With this in mind, let us look at the word ‘hemp’. Moving backwards with the information of the /h/ ~ /k/ we may hypothesize that the word ‘hemp’ (which comes from Old English hænep) came originally from a word beginning with /k/. Likewise the /p/ in ‘hemp’ is also most likely the result of a change from earlier /b/. Any guesses what word might be related to ‘hemp’ with the consonants /k/ /n/ /b/?

2. Cannabis

You got that right! ‘Hemp’ and ‘kannabis’ are related, which is to say they are cognates of one another. All linguistic information seems to indicate that the word for cannabis in Europe was borrowed from (as we shall see) an as-of-yet undetermined source language. Like many other items that spread across various regions along trade routes, cannabis and its cognates are the word for Cannabis Sativa:
English: hemp
Latin: cannabis (borrowed from Greek)
Greek: kannabis
Armenian: kanap’
Albanian: kanep
Old Bulgarian: konoplja

Linguists call such words by the German term Wanderwort ‘wandering word’, since it proceeds along trade routes. The question, though, is whether that is the starting point or not. Probing further into the history and origin of the word ‘cannabis’ is more problematic than many make it seem.

3. Middle-Eastern Connections

It has been argued by some that Greek kannabis was borrowed from an unidentified Semitic source. Semitic languages are languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, Assyro-Babylonian, Phoenician, etc… Some have even claimed that there is biblical evidence that the traditional oil of anointing of the Bible contained cannabis, and that, in consequence, Jesus Christ as the meshiah the ‘anointed one’ used cannabis. Following we will look into the not-so-clear-cut basis on which these claims are made.

The argument for a Semitic source of ‘kannabis’ rests on the Old Testament phrase (in Hebrew) “qaneh bosm” ‘fragrant reed’. Traditionally the plant associated with ‘qaneh bosm’ has been the Acorus Calamus, though some see in the sequence of consonants /q/ /n/ /h/ /b/ /s/ sufficient evidence for association with ‘kannabis’. Here we run into the first set of problems (besides the problem of what happened to the /m/). The problems are found not with the similarity of consonants, but rather the history and meaning of the Hebrew words themselves.

The word for ‘reed’ in the Semitic languages was at the earliest stages ‘qanaw-u-’:
Assyro-Babylonian: qanu
Aramaic: qanya
Hebrew: qaneh
Arabic: qanah

Connecting this word with ‘kannabis’ is problematic, first of all, by the fact that the Semitic root /qnw/ denotes a plant which has the qualities of being hollow. The same root is the source of our words ‘cane’ and ‘canon’ among others. Even in other Middle-Eastern languages, the Assyro-Babylonian word ‘qanu’ is equated with Sumerian ‘gi[n]’ “reed”.

The second half of the phrase “bosm” refers usually to something fragrant or healing, and can be traced back to the Semitic root [bsm] (note: without the ability to show different letters, it is difficult to mark certain things, the /s/ should have an accent mark on it which indicates a sound which is similar to pronouncing an /l/ while exhaling and not vibrating one’s vocal cords – try it ) This root is the basis of our word ‘balsam’ (note the /l/ and /s/ qualities represented via Greek).

What is of interest here, is that those who see ‘cannabis’ in the Hebrew phrase “qaneh bosm” and those who don’t can both be correct. It is important to note, though, that there is little indication that this was a word native to Hebrew. When a language borrows a word from an external source, it is often altered so that the various components of the word ‘make sense’ in the borrowing language. Such a process is commonly referred to as ‘folk etymology’. Some examples from modern-day English are the substitution of ‘very coarse veins’ for ‘varicose veins’ or ‘sparrow grass’ for ‘asparagus’, etc…This phenomenon is found the world over. Returning to the phrase “qaneh bosm”, a few things stand out: yes, Cannabis Sativa is fragrant, but no, it does not seem to be a reed. I should make clear here that I am not stating one way or another whether “qaneh bosm” refers to Cannabis Sativa or not, merely that if it does, it by no means seems to be native to the Semitic languages, rather that it if and when it arrived in the Middle East it was borrowed in terms that ‘made sense’ in the borrowing language.

4. Conclusions

Although this seems a bit disappointing, the goal of this process was to impart that the etymology of cannabis can be a problematic issue, one which should not be taken at face value. Too many people engage in these processes without the requisite background/training in historical linguistics. The key culprit in the dissemination of disinformation is the notion that similarity of words equals a common source. Rather the opposite can be true. Moreover, it seems that some would try to use the notion of the ‘etymology’ of cannabis for various purposes, e.g. to demonstrate that Christ used cannabis, which to my mind does not rest on stable linguistic grounds. In that same light, it would appear that this partly-true/partly-non-confirmable ‘evidence’ is used for the sake of making a few bucks (how many of you have seen this type of article in HighTimes or other magazines?). I hope not to trend on anyone’s toes with this; however, I do believe that well-based knowledge is better than half-baked misinformation.


Posted by: elcabong



http://www.overgrow.com/edge/showthread.php?t=636517
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post......

Regardless of the etymology of the word Cannabis, our chosen religion is just as legitimate. Chasing around words is meaningless when you realize that we are shamans, pure and simple, and it doesnt matter if its called Cannabis or Crayola as far as our legitimacy is concerned.

As long as we hold Cannabis sacred for our religious use, none of this matters. I think its a good post, because we are more than the definition of a word, or some minute reference in some holy book. We need none of that for our defense. All we need to do is claim our religious rights be respected as they are already written. We need no further justification than this. Brothers and Sisters, please do not be confused or misled by worrying about legitimacy being based on any provability. We dont have to prove a damn thing. Our faith is enough. Rely on it..... Wink

We are shamanists, plain and simple....And that can be proven back thousands of years, in clear detail, with no ambiguity or tricky linguistics. There is no doubt about this in the legal arena. Shamanism is a viable, respectable, and recognized form of worship in this country, and as such, is federally protected. Thats really all there is to it.... Nothing complicated, no justification necessary. The Andrews test does not even really apply to us when you realize that shamanistic religions have been protected by the Constitution, and allowed to practice their chosen form of worship freely in this country for quite some time. We are just another shamanic faith, thats it. We can prove we are shamanistic, as our faith in its description fits the definition. We are worshippers who use Cannabis(entheogens) religiously and medically, and incorporate it together with spirituality, for the purposes of higher spiritual attainment. I hold Cannabis sacred, thats all anyone needs to know.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 6:33 am    Post subject: Thanks, RCG Reply with quote

Hello RCG and everyone,

Aloha. Thanks for the article. Very interesting, indeed.

"4. Conclusions

Although this seems a bit disappointing, the goal of this process was to impart that the etymology of cannabis can be a problematic issue, one which should not be taken at face value. Too many people engage in these processes without the requisite background/training in historical linguistics. The key culprit in the dissemination of disinformation is the notion that similarity of words equals a common source. Rather the opposite can be true. Moreover, it seems that some would try to use the notion of the ‘etymology’ of cannabis for various purposes, e.g. to demonstrate that Christ used cannabis, which to my mind does not rest on stable linguistic grounds. In that same light, it would appear that this partly-true/partly-non-confirmable ‘evidence’ is used for the sake of making a few bucks (how many of you have seen this type of article in HighTimes or other magazines?). I hope not to tread on anyone’s toes with this; however, I do believe that well-based knowledge is better than half-baked misinformation."

That's a fair and seemingly balanced critique, however, I can add one thing that makes cannabis in the holy oil "real" and erases all doubt for me. It heals otherwise incurable gangrene. Radical, nasty, horrible, flesh-eating gangrene healed completely with just drops of holy oil applied topically right into the wound.

I saw the results with my own eyes - twice - in a few months where the holy oil saved people I know from leg amputations ... I'm hooked. The holy anointing oil made with cannabis has a measurable spiritual effect AND now this. This is THE recipe. What more could one ask of a holy oil?

All the best to you,

Roger


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


I have been trying to say the same thing again and again and again...

Making up herbal remedies from natural ingredients and applying them to sick and dis-eased people whilst listening to your own inner voice makes you Shaman...no if's, no but's...no maybe's ! (there are a few other things to take into consideration but the basics are just that !)...

As is rightly indicated...find an older 'religion' and I'll eat my shirt...

Sorry for bursting in like this...when one is passionate and all that Smile
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a P.S....

I am using the oil on Necrosis, M.E., Paraplegia, chronic fatigue, cancer and quite a few other 'clients' with varying ailments....when my research is complete I shall give a full and unbiased report on all patients and their experiences with the oil....so far...so good...thanks roger Smile
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We know what we refer to when we say "cannabis".

Thanks for the lecture in linguistics and etymology though; elcabong
sounds like my prof when I was back at Uni.

Was cannabis used in the annointing oil? Some people think it was, others may hold a different view.

But what really counts is that cannabis is sacred to me and to the people gathering here, so I don't really think it's relevant what was sacred to others.
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Echo wrote:
We know what we refer to when we say "cannabis".


as a newbie around here, i've noticed that what we refer to is mostly refered to as "herb", "cannabis", or "sacrament". anyone know why? is this a matter of respect, or some unspoken taboo?

like, i could think of some others . . . http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=weed&r=f
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That picture explains what we are talking about Smile
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Around here we usually just say cannabis more as a way of NOT saying Marijuana which is a slang term from the 30's...
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Around here we never use the name marijuana. In Italy (where I come from) used to be referred to as "canapa indiana" back in the 80s. More recently they are using cannabis.

In the UK they mostly call it cannabis.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Italian language
the word SPINELLO means
("jpint of cannabis"sigaretta di marijuana,marijuana cigarette,smokable cannabis)

canapa means (HEMP,for fibre & seed)

hascisc means (HASHISH for resins)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks, RCG Reply with quote

RogerChristie wrote:

The key culprit in the dissemination of disinformation is the notion that similarity of words equals a common source. Rather the opposite can be true. Moreover, it seems that some would try to use the notion of the ‘etymology’ of cannabis for various purposes, e.g. to demonstrate that Christ used cannabis, which to my mind does not rest on stable linguistic grounds.


Very well put!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 12:45 pm    Post subject: KANEH BOSM Reply with quote

KANEH BOSM

In 1980, Hebrew University in Jerusalem confirmed the translation from kaneh bosm as cannabis to be correct.

It was mistranslated in 5 places in the Bible before the King James Version.

Presently, it is mistranslated and even inconsistant in various Bibles but also within each Bible, it is inconsistant.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The term cannabis comes from the oldest known form of root languages, the indo-european. This communality accounts for the term "an" in so many terms for the herb, such as bh'an'g in India, Ch'an'vre in French H'an'f in German etc., The term itself is also the root for cane and refers to the reed like stalks of the herb when grown close together in abundance. When ancient humanity first planted the crop it had yet to be divided into species like Indica and Sativa and was grown for both tops and stalks in one versatile crop. Hybridizing came later.

Cannabis came to the Hebrews as an item of trade and retained it's own name, kanna, likely with the edition of the Semitic "bosem", meaning fragrant, in some instances, although this is arguable as some have seen the bu in the similar Assyrian Qunubu, as meaning "two' and referring to the two sexes of the plant. This has happened before, witness the Hebrew term 'kinnamon' which appears alongside keneh bosem in Exodus 30:23, and is the ancient term for modern cinnamon.

On the etymology of the plant we have Sula Benet, etymologist, Prof. Carl Ruck, linguist, Blaise Staples, linguist as well as a variety of other academic sources. Even the mainstream Bible study website Navigating the Bible acknowledges this etymology. "On the basis of cognate pronunciation and Septuagint readings, some identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis, the hemp plant."

http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=2&CHAPTER=30

When one goes further than etymology and looks at the Hebrew term keneh bosem in the context of the Biblical story, and it's use as an ingredient in the Holy oil, with its healing properties and "possession by the spirit of the Lord", one comes to see the Biblical source as a record of the shamanic origins of religion.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

high

i just wanted to say "thank you" to brother Reverend Cavegrower for the fascinating insight into the complex science of linguistics.

make no mistake , this is a highly complex science and i thought he summerised it very well. it is a pleasure to read words written by someone who obviously has a deep understanding of the subject.

i would be interested in the relationship between the ancient Irish and 'Celtic' european words for Cannabis Sativa and Tibetan , chinese and nepalese.

Also , i think we should take into consideration the science of phonetics.

with regards Shamanism - i am half Irish and they were the first people in the western world to have a written body of laws.these laws reflected the Irish respect for all life and their belief that every living thing on earth had a legal right to life and respect and was protected by written law.

for example , the sentance for killing an oak tree was death or exile beyond the ninth wave (the territory of Ireland.)you will not find a more civilised body of law , respecting life , than this anywhere on earth.

Shamanism is , undoubtedly , the most ancient form of religious belief practiced by humanity.Irish law used to reflect there deep reverence for all of nature based on a civilised religion we now call "Shamanism".

with regards to OUR religion.- We owe brother Roger Christie a debt of gratitude here.we ARE a religion.no government , no court and no man or woman is entitled to say we are NOT a religion or to question the basis of our religious beliefs.

why? - because it is utterly forbidden by international law , European law and American law for anyone to to say that our beliefs or religion is false or a fake.The law is categoricaly clear on this issue.It is an offense under international law for anyone to defame , denigrate or even criticise our religion or beliefs.THAT IS THAT.THAT IS THE LAW.we should NEVER allow anyone to say otherwise.

The best they can do is to try and prove that we are INSINCERE about our beliefs.This way they can say we are using a legitimate religion 'for cover' or to hide behind.it is illeagal to misuse any religion in this way.

THE SOLUTION ? - The kit (and our adherance to the rules of our religion) proves to any court that we are sincere in our beliefs , and that we are part of a legitimate religion whose beliefs we SINCERELY hold to be true.If you are ever in court just ask the judge , for the record, if there is any doubt about the legitimacy of our religion.i guarantee that he/she will NEVER say we are not legitimate.if he/she does , then demand a copy of the stenographers notes , because that judge will be contravening international law.

this is the legal right of us all.this is what the THC-Ministry has given us.protection under national and international law.

we should all try to remember this and defend these principals and our legitimate religious beliefs against all those who dare say otherwise.POLITELY remind them that they are breaking national and international law.

so , "THANK YOU" brother Roger Christie , brother Ferre and all those of you who have worked to build and maintain the THC-Ministry on OUR behalf.We all owe you a great debt.

no longer can we be kicked around.no longer can we be bullied.no longer can we be terrorised.no longer can we be persecuted.Operation eradication and the genocidal war against Cannabis Sativa users will have to pass us by and go inflict terror and death on some other vulnerable , defenceless members of our species.

RESPECT , LOVE AND PEACE TO YOU ALL.

.(exit stage left the rambling madman ,don quixote, wandering off into the sunset , muttering about windmills.all those present breath a huge sigh of relief)

.
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