Passivity as a transition (raising dust)

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Thu Aug 12 06:32:06 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/11/99 8:52:09 PM, jrader at wrote:

<< I'm sorry if you don't have access to a library, but I'm afraid there's
not much I can do about that. >>

What can I say?  I not only cited scholarship to you, but the texts
themselves.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but you really won't be able to tell whether
what I'm saying makes any sense until you take a pause from being so

You just wrote:
<<Greek <konis> is compared with Latin <cinis>, from both of which a
base <*kenis-> on an Indo-European level may be reconstructable.>>

What I wrote was that there was a 'semantic' innovation (dust>effort>service)
in Greek.  My point was that this change of meaning caused a verb (koneo) to
be participalized in usage during a interim period before it became
morphologically stabilized as a noun (e.g., diakonia) with the new meaning.

I had mentioned konis, koneo^, enkoneo^, akonei, diakoneo^, etc., as
representing the transition in meaning by metaphor from 'dust' to 'effort' to

You however responded that I was "confusing two unrelated etyma".
I responded that I'd love to know what the other one was.

Your response is 'konis' = dust, ashes, related to Latin 'cinis' = dust,
ashes, and reconstructed as IE *kenis-, which I suppose may have meant dust,
ashes.  That's where I started.  It doesn't contradict what I said.

Then you add:
<<Pokorny glosses <*ken-> with "sich muehen, eifrig streben, sich
sputen," and Latin <co:nor> is compared.>>

Now I take that to be the other "etymon."  I was expecting some Sanskrit or

I think Pokorny may have simply been translating the Latin.  Of course, the
gloss would be unnecessary if the connection between dust and "striving" is
Greek and not PIE.  As for 'co^n-or, co^n-atus', (subst, 'conata, conatarum')
I'd suspect it might be in some way from the Greek.

The obvious connection is to such forms as "akoniti"(adv), found in an early
record as 'akonitos' derived in Lidell-Scott form 'konio' - without dust.
Also Homer (Illiad 21.541) - "kekonimenoi pheugon" - fleeing getting dusty
(passive verb form.)  Compare Ovid Meta 3.60 - "magna conamine". ('conamen,
-inis' = an effort)

There is also 'koniortos' - recorded beginning with Herodotus and often as
'raised dust', 'a cloud of dust.'  Which follows the same transition in
meaning that can be seen in the Greek 'konistra' - literally a place of dust,
a place where animals roll in the dust - but later the famous wrestling
arena. Hence, 'konia' = dust of the arena as "a metaphor for toil (striving?)
in Aristotle IA709a."

(The old ritual sprinkling of dust upon themselves by wrestlers, in the form
'konio^ntai', was mentioned by Palmer I think as a possible source for
dia-koneo^ - ie, an undertaking, task)

I'm obviously on shaky ground on how <co^nor, co^natus> should appear if it
were borrowed from the Greek before about 100BC.  But there doesn't seem to
be any connection between 'cinis' and 'conor' in Latin.  My guess is that the
link between raising dust and making an effort did not pass into Latin
because it is not from PIE.   And that Latin received 'cinis' from PIE and
'co^nor' from the Greek, who innovated it.  So I'm suggesting that Pokorny
may be wrong in looking for a PIE origin for a meaning that originated as a
metaphor in early Greek.

Steve Long

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