Does the word пять have an origin in an Indian language? I noticed that the word in Bengali sounds almost the same. See here for the spelling, and here for the pronunciation.

  • 2
    There is a site Linguistics.SE, maybe you should try asking there. linguistics.stackexchange.com
    – Artemix
    Jun 10, 2016 at 9:47
  • 1
    You may find it interesting that the English word "punch" (the beverage) in fact originates from an Indic word meaning "five".
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 10, 2016 at 11:33
  • @Quassnoi it's a theory - pretty accepted but not the only one - there's also a word puncheon - etymonline.com/index.php?term=puncheon -which has nothing to do with India but could be related to punch.
    – shabunc
    Jun 10, 2016 at 14:43
  • @MartinPeters a-ha-ha more or less because exactly this kind of reasons european linguistics was born ) Actually a lot of words have PIE roots but yes, it's more of a Linguistics SE kind of question.
    – shabunc
    Jun 10, 2016 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


Updating my answer: Not Indian but Proto-Indo-European (PIE) from which a huge number of modern and ancient languages (commonly known as Indo-European) have evolved, including Sanskrit, Old Greek, Latin, and, eventually, most modern European languages (Roman, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic), Hindi, etc.

П.С.: надеюсь, я не нарушу слишком много правил, если добавлю источник для интересующихся тем, как из одного древнего слова получается "пять", "five", "cinque" и т.д? Для начинающих: Зализняк. "Об исторической лингвистике"

  • Hm, but in German it is fünf and in Swedish fem which look different. Jun 10, 2016 at 8:53
  • Perhaps you can point me to a source when you will have the time. Jun 10, 2016 at 9:25
  • With pleasure but I have two problems here: 1. I read my Linguistics books in Russian (that's why I somewhat struggling with English terminology) and I'm not sure if you speak any Russian. 2. A quick search on Google does not show much info suitable for a non-specialist (I searched in English). It's either WiKi with questionable quality of materials, or some specialist-oriented papers, which you might find too hard to grind. :)
    – tum_
    Jun 10, 2016 at 9:38
  • 1
    @MartinPeters Germanic laguages do have an F in many places where related languages had P, don't they? Consider words like Vater, for example. Similarly, fünf had a P a very long time ago when German was not yet German. Google Grimm's law if you want more details.
    – Shady_arc
    Jun 10, 2016 at 11:08
  • 5
    @MartinPeters - The Scandinavian fem ("five") < Old Norse fimm < Proto-Germanic *fimf < Proto-Indo-European *pénkʷe ‎(“five”).
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 10, 2016 at 11:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.