Orðið Mukn úr Armenia
Hjalmar P. Petersen
The word for mouse in Armenian is mukn.
Comparing mukn with the same word in
other IE languages shows that the -k in Ar-
menian is unoriginal, eg. ON. mús, OHG.
mus , Lat. mus and Old Indic muh . There is
no need for a reconstruction with a laryn-
geal sound for PIE - that is * muHxs. The
loss of the laryngeal should yield lengthen-
ing of the vowel in eg. ON, and is to be seen
as -k in Armenian.
How is the -k then to be explained?
According to Lindeman (1987:98) the
origin of -kn in mukn is to be found in the
word for fish. Lindeman's reconstruction
for the Armenian word for fish - that is jukn
- is from the root ghuk > pre. Arm. jhukh -
, whence by dissimilation of * jn ....kh - to
3huk - > Old Armenian jukn , gen. sg. jukan
The same word is found in Lithuanian
zúkmistras 'Fishmeister', zúkparnis 'Fish-
haar', Opruss. (acc. pl.) suckans 'Fish'.
In order to reconstruct the Armenian and
the Baltic words Lindeman uses the PIE
root *ghuk -.
Other languages do not show any stop in
the word for físh. Pokorny reconstruct the
root as ghou . It is seen in Greek ikhthus
'Fish'. We therefore need two PIE roots *
ghuk - and ghu - (ou and u is a matter of
ablaut). However, making use of language
typology, it is - in my opinion - possible to
reconstruct the root behind jukn as ghu -.
The stop originates in a hiat: * g"u-V > *
ghuw-V> ghu%-V> * g"uk -. This kind of de-
velopment is not unusual and can be seen in
other languages as well. They typically de-
velop a stop after vowels that are [+high| ...
(Petersen H. P. 1993). Se below for exam-
As the stop is in both Armenian and the
Baltic branch of PIE it might go back to the
protolanguage. There are, however, other
exampels in Lithuanian and Latvian which
might suggest a special development to a
stop in some words. It is as a soundchange
did start but never managed to spread to the
whole vocabulary. The words in question
are Lith. áuksas - Lat. auris , Lith. tuksan-
tis ~ Faroese túsund. Examples from Lat-
vian (Selsvegen) arejúks 'you' ~ Goth.j us
; brúkte 'bread' < * bhreu -. In the dialect of
Selsau we find examples such as oukss
'ear' Lat. auris < * ausis (Endzelin
What is of importance here is the devel-
opment of the stop after a [+high] vowel.
The same is seen in other languages, eg.
Faroese rógva 'row' < (xeg.va < jog.va <
roy.va < * row.wa < * rou.wa ON. róa )
and - (Robbins 1966:581-586) - Maru yuk
'bone' compared withe Burm. yóu . A stop
is also seen in Danish dialects in North- and
West-Iutland, where ON. mús becomes
Fróðskaparrit 45. bók 1997: 25-26