one more language connection--finger

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 01 Nov 1998 22:11:25 -0600

tik 'finger, one'
This will be the last long list of words I will post on language
connections. However, I would point out that while I have only posted on
two words, water and finger(aqwa and tik) there are lots of other words
that unite the world's languages. These include (Ruhlen p. 105)

ku who
ma what (ma is used in Mandarin as a question indicator)
pal two
akwa water
tik finger
kanV arm
boko arm
bunku knee
sum hair
putV vulva
cuna nose smell
KamV squeeze
parV fly

(the capital V represents a vowel whose original pronunciation is unknown)

here is the data on finger.

"Another striking resemblance among the world's language families is a
word whose original meaning was probably 'finger' (though it has evolved to
'one' and 'hand'[='fingers'] in many languages), and whose original form
was something like tik. I first became aware of the widespread nature of
this root at a public lecture that Greenberg gave at Stanford in 1977, in
which he mentioned three roots that were widely distributed around the
world: tik 'finger,' pal 'two' (which we will look at in the following
section), and par 'to fly.' As you no doubt noticed in your examination of
Table 10, no less than eight of the twelve families show traces of tik
'finger,one,' namely, Nilo-Saharan (B), Niger-Kordofanian (C), Afro-Asiatic
(D), Eurasiatic (G), Dene-Caucasian (H), Austric (I), Indo-Pacific (J) and
Amerind (L)." ~Merritt Ruhlen, The Origin of Language, (New York: John
Wiley and Sons, 1994), p. 115

? sounds like tt's in bottle when pronouced like by a cockney in London.
I need to point out the sound changes that linguists have found

Language sound meaning
Fur tek one
Maba tek (tuk) one
Nera dekk-u one
Dinka tok one
Berta diikoni one
Mangetu t'e one
Kwama seek-o one t changed to s
Bari to one
Jur tok one
Twampa de? one
Komo de one
"In 1972 the American linguist Edgar Gregersen presented substantial
evidence connecting two of Greenberg's four African families, Nilo-Saharan
and Niger-Kordofanian. One of the pieces of evidence he offered was
Niger-Kordofanian forms that appeared cognate with the Nilo-Saharan forms
just cited." ~Merritt Ruhlen, The Origin of Language, (New York: John Wiley
and Sons, 1994), p. 115-116

"Examples from the Niger-Kordofanian family include":
Fulup sik~sex finger (~ separates variant pronunciations)
Nalu te finger
Gur dike one
Gwa dogbo one
Fon dokpa one
Ewe deka one
Tonga tiho finger
Chopi t'ho finger
Ki-Bira zika finger
Ba-Kiokwa zigu finger

Afro-Asiatic family of North Africa
Oromo toko one
West Gurage tegu only one
Yaaku tegei hand
Saho ti one
Bilin tu one
Tsamai dokko one
Nefusa tukod finger
Hausa tak only one
Gisiga tekoy one
Gidder te-teka one
Logone tku first

Eurasiatic family
Indoeuropean branch
Indoeuropean root deik
Latin dig-itus finger
Latin indeks forefinger
English toe toe
Old English tahe toe
Latin Decem 10
Uralic branch
Votyak odik one
Zyrian otik one

Turkic branch
Chuvash tek only, just
Uighur tek only merely
Chagatai tek only, single
Turkish tek only
Turkish teken one by one
Korean tayki one, thing
Old Korean tek 10
Ainu tek hand
Ainu atiki five
Japanese te hand
Kamchatkan itygin paw-foot

Upik tik-iq index finger
Inupiaq tik-iq index finger
Inupiaq Tikkuagpaa he points to it
Attu tik-laq middle finger
Attu atgu finger
Attu tagataq one

Rai tik(-pu) one
Nung thi one
Tibetan (g-)tsig one

Yeniseian branch
Ket tek finger
Punpokol tok finger
Kott tog-an finger
Na-Dene branch
Haida ta with the fingers
Tlingit t-eeq finger
Tlingit Tek one
Eyak tikhi one
Sarsi tlik one
Kutchin (i-)Tag one
Hupa ta? One
Navajo ta? One
Austric family
Austroasiatic branch
Kharia ti? Hand
Riang ti? Hand
Wa tai? Hand
Khmer tai hand
Vietnamese tay hand
Daic branch
Li dlian finger
Northern Li tlean,then finger
Loi then,cian finger
Tasmanian motook forefinger
SE tasmanian togue hand
Boven Mbian tek fingernail
Digul tuk fingernail

Amerind languages
North America
Nootka taka only
Mohawk tsi?er Finger
Sierra Miwok tika? Index finger
Wintun tiq-eles ten
Nisenan tok- hand
Mixe to?k, tuk one
Sayula tu?k one
Tzeltal tukal alone
Quiche tik'ex carry in the hand
Karok tik finger,hand
Achumawi wa-tuci finger
Washo tsek finger
Yana 'tgi- alone
East Pomo bi'yatsukai finger
Arraarra teeh'k hand
Pehtsik tiki-vash hand
Akwa'ala asit-dek one
Nahua tiikia?a one
Pima bajo cic one
Tarahumara sika hand
Mazatec cika?a alone
Mangue tike one

South America
Chibcha ytiquyn finger
Chibcha Acik by ones
Borunca etsik one
Guatuso dooki one
Shiriana ithak hand
Ulua tinka-mak finger
Paez teec one
Cahuapana itekla finger,hand
Jebero itokla finger,hand
Qawashqar takso one
Siona tekua one
Siona teg-li five
Canichana eutixle finger
Yupua di(x)ka arm
Uasona dikaga arm
Upano tikitik one
Aguaruna tikij one
Murato tici hand
Uru ti one
Chipaya zek one
Itene taka one
Guamo dixi finger
Katembri tika toe
Yuracare tece thumb
Kukura tikua finger
Accaqwai tigina one
Ocaina dikabu arm
Mataco otejji one
Tagnani etegueno finger
Sensi (nawis)-tikoe one(finger)
Cavinena eme-toko hand
Botocudo (po-)cik one(finger)
Botocudo jik alone
~Merritt Ruhlen, The Origin of Language, (New York: John Wiley and Sons,
1994), p.115-119


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