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1.9.7 Penis

The various components of the male genitalia show semantic associations with a number of other bodyparts, as well as with a wide range of objects in other semantic fields. Some of these associations are widespread or universal in the world’s languages; others seem more idiosyncratic to ST or the SEA’n linguistic area.

Among the universal semantic associations we may list the following:

(1) PENIS ⟷ TAIL: The English word penis itself is from Lat. pēnis ‘tail’ (cf. also Fr. queue < Lat. cauda ‘tail’), among countless other examples. The widespread TB etymon for TAIL #1288 PTB *r‑may*m‑ray *may ⪤ *mey ⪤ *mi (cf. also Chinese 尾 OC *mi̯wər) has similar associations, e.g. Jingpho mài, ǹ‑mài ‘tail; a euphemistic name for the male private parts’ (Hanson 1906/1954, p. 400).

(2) PENIS ⟷ BANANA: This connection is made explicitly in Kokborok tʰa‑li (see #1284 PTB *m‑ley*m‑li PENIS below) and in Newar mwā‑e ‘banana; penis’.

(3) GLANS PENIS ⟷ PENIS + HEAD: This is a universal association (cf. WT mje‑mgo; Lahu nī‑ó‑qō; Lisu (Northern) ɔ⁵⁵dy³³ ‘head’, hɔ̃²¹ɔ⁵⁵dy³³ ‘penis’; Yakha tu◦khəruk ‘head’, liː◦goː u◦tu◦kəruk ‘glans’; Qiang (Mawo) qə̥ pætʂ ‘head’, li◦qə̥ pætʂ ‘glans’; Eng. dick-head).

(4) TESTICLE ⟷ EGG: This is also a universal association (cf. e.g. Russian jajtsy ‘eggs; testicles’, Hebrew beytsim ‘id.’). The same etymon may have some reflexes meaning EGG and others meaning TESTICLE. Several TB etyma showing this association have been treated above under EGG (Chapter 1.9.1); others will be treated below in this chapter. Alternatively a language may have a compound word for TESTICLE of the structure PENIS + EGG.

(5) TESTICLE ⟷ FRUIT / BALL / ROUNDED OBJECT: TB compounds for TESTICLE frequently take the form PENIS + FRUIT/ROUND OBJECT, e.g. Lahu nī‑šī ‘testicle’ (2nd syll. < #1019 PTB *sey FRUIT / ROSE / ROUND OBJECT).1

Cf. also Newar kwaa‑si ‘testicles’ (lit. “hot-fruit”), reminiscent of the vulgar English simile “hot as balls”.

(6) TESTICLE ⟷ STONE: Also a widespread association in the world’s languages, including archaic English slang. In TB, cf. formations like Monpa khong‑lung ‘testicle’ (lung ‘stone’).

(7) SCROTUM ⟷ BASKET / BAG / POUCH / NEST: This obvious association occurs in Lat. scrōtumscrautum ‘leather pouch for arrows’, and is also found in TB, e.g. Lahu nī‑sī‑phɨ ‘scrotum’, phɨ ‘nest; receptacle’ < #1611 PTB *kʷəy NEST / WOMB / PLACENTA. Cf. also #3471 PTB *s‑blwaŋ SCROTUM / POUCH / MALE (of animals), #643 PTB *ʔip*ʔiːt BAG / SCROTUM.

(8) SEMEN ⟷ PENIS + LIQUID: Cf. Nesu le̱ṟ³³ ʑʅ²¹ and Noesu ɬu⁵⁵ʑi²¹, where the second element < #1013 PTB *rəy WATER / LIQUID / BODILY FLUID, and WB lî‑rañ.

Semantic associations that seem more peculiar to the SEA’n linguistic area include the following:

(9) PENIS ⟷ VAGINA: Many etyma have some reflexes which refer to the male organ, but others which refer to the female counterpart, a phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘genital flipflop’ (see chapter note under VAGINA). Etyma like this should perhaps be assigned the gender-neutral gloss GENITALS at the proto-level. Several have been treated under VAGINA (Chapter 1.9.5, above); others will be treated below in this chapter.

(10) PENIS ⟷ BODY + TONGUE: Cf. Garo maŋ‑sre ‘penis’ < #17 PTB *s‑maŋ BODY / CORPSE + #623 PTB *s/m‑l(y)a‑t *s‑lya TONGUE. This form was cited in Benedict 1979:24.

(11) TESTICLE ⟷ SEED: Cf. WB lî‑ce’, lit. “penis-seed”.

(12) GLANS ⟷ NOTCH: Cf. WB lî‑thac ‘corona glandis’, lit. “penis-notch”, and Lahu nī‑qhɛ̀ʔ ‘penis’, where the second syllable means ‘notch (as a stick); chip; break off a piece’.

(13) GLANS ⟷ BUD: Cf. WB lî‑ŋum ‘glans’, lit. “penis-bud”.

(14) GLANS ⟷ TURTLE: While Latin glāns means ‘acorn’, Mandarin guī‑tóu ‘glans penis’ means literally “turtle-head”. (For obvious reasons, this formation is especially appropriate for the uncircumcised organ.) The data is so far insufficient to establish whether this same metaphor occurs in TB languages.

(15) SEMEN ⟷ SHIT: A few languages associate semen with SHIT / BODY DIRT / EXCRETION. Cf. Lahu nī‑qhɛ̂ “penis-shit”, Chepang təyŋ‑kliʔ ‘id.’, and Bantawa lü‑khü‑wa (khü ‘stool, excreta’). In Jingpho ne³¹khji⁵⁵, however, this combination of morphemes means SMEGMA.

(16) SEMEN ⟷ FAT: Cf. Lahu nī‑chu ‘semen’ (lit. “penis-fat”).

Few monomorphemic etyma are reconstructible for SEMEN, with three possibilities offered below in Chapter 1.9.9: #1614 PTB *(r/w)a SEMEN, #1627 PTB *ŋya SEMEN, and #3486 PKC *(ɓ/p)oo SPERM / SEMEN.

Words for FORESKIN/PREPUCE, naturally enough, are compounds of PENIS + SKIN (see Chapter 1.6.5).

Expressions for COPULATE frequently involve PENIS plus a verb. See Chapter 1.9.8.

Etyma in this chapter

tag num_recs chaptertitle chapter sequence protoform protogloss grpid plg grpno notes num_notes num_comparanda status public username
12850Penis1.9.7114.0m-(l/n)ey ⪤ m-liPENIS2PTB0.1PAF20KEEP1stedt
1284141Penis1.9.7114.1m-ley ⪤ m-liPENIS2PTB0.1STC#26210KEEP1stedt
128364Penis1.9.7115.0m-yaŋPENIS / TESTICLE / STINGER (of bee)2PTB0.11638?10KEEP1stedt
342020Penis1.9.7116.1k-tu-kPENIS2PTB0.1cf. 661 *s-tu VAGINA; 641?10KEEP1stedt
34233Penis1.9.7116.2tsuPENIS2PTB0.1("Him") Cf. Spiti forms. Distinct from *k-tu 342010KEEP1stedt
34264Penis1.9.7120.0pwatPENIS2PTB0.1("Jg/Lu") Attested in Jg. and Kadu20KEEP1stedt
34219Penis1.9.7122.0tyaŋPENIS / CLITORIS / LONG2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
547175Penis1.9.7123.0maːkSON-IN-LAW / GENITALS / PENIS / MALE / VAGINA2PTB0.1STC#32421KEEP1stedt
54854Penis1.9.7124.0s-nyak ⪤ s-nikPENIS / COPULATE2PTB0.120KEEP1stedt
163816Penis1.9.7125.0b/m-laŋPENIS / MALE / HUSBAND2PTB0.1cf. GSR 887l "male"; 1283?32KEEP1stedt
163714Penis1.9.7126.0gaŋPENIS / MALE2PTB0.1cf. GSR 697f "bull"32KEEP1stedt
16409Penis1.9.7127.0s-kyuMALE / PENIS2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
64223Penis1.9.7128.0səw-tTESTICLES / PENIS / VIRILITY / SEMEN2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
128625Penis1.9.7129.0r-likTESTICLE / EGG / PENIS2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
343919Penis1.9.7130.0syanTESTICLE / EGG2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
347127Penis1.9.7131.0s-blwaŋSCROTUM / POUCH / MALE (of animals)2PTB0.1not related to 163810KEEP1stedt
68527Penis1.9.7132.0s-muSEED / TESTICLE / ROUND OBJECT2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
3559137Penis1.9.7133.0dzəySEED / TESTICLE / ROUND OBJECT2PTB0.121KEEP1stedt
111049Penis1.9.7134.0kaBALL / EGG / TESTICLE / EYEBALL2PTB0.120KEEP1stedt
161724Penis1.9.7135.0kukPOUCH / BASKET / SCROTUM2PTB0.1STC#393, WTF-PNN p. 454, HPTB10KEEP1stedt
64317Penis1.9.7136.0ʔip ⪤ ʔiːtBAG / SCROTUM2PTB0.1cf. HPTB p.53310KEEP1stedt
162465Penis1.9.7137.0laMALE2PTB0.1STC p.96; possibly related to 1639,1634?20KEEP1stedt
79612Penis1.9.7138.0m-(t/d)unFOREPART / FORESKIN2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt
359037Penis1.9.7139.0tsyaŋROUND OBJECT / SEED / NUT / TESTICLE2PTB0.110KEEP1stedt

^ 1.
Note that TESTICLE ⟷ NUT is not characteristic of SEA, since languages in this region generally lack a word for NUT distinct from FRUIT. Cf. Chinese 果 (Mand. guǒ), used equally well for FRUIT (more specifically 水果 Mand. shuǐguǒ “water-fruit”) and NUT, e.g. 開心果 Mand. kāixīnguǒ ‘pistachio’ (lit. “open-heart-fruit”).