Sunday, December 11, 2005
Gable and Gipfel
Über allen GipfelnLongfellow:
in allen Wipfeln
kaum einen Hauch;
die Vögelein schweigen im Walde,
warte nur, balde
ruhest du auch!
O'er all the hilltopsThere have been dozens of musical settings of Goethe's poem. I find only one musical setting of Longfellow's translation, by Avril Gwendolen Coleridge-Taylor.
Is quiet now,
In all the treetops
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait; soon like these
Thou too shalt rest.
I wonder about a possible connection between English gable and German Gipfel. The Online Etymology Dictionary connects gable with words meaning fork:
1338, from O.Fr. gable, from O.N. gafl (in north of England, directly from O.N.), probably from a P.Gmc. root meaning "fork" (cf. O.E. gafol, geafel "fork," M.H.G. gabel "pitchfork"), from PIE *ghebhel (cf. O.Ir. gabul "forked twig"). So called from the Y-shaped timber supports of the roof at gable ends.But Calvert Watkins in his Indo-European Roots s.v. ghebhel- connects it with words meaning head:
Head. 1. Germanic *gabl-, top of a pitched roof, in Old Norse gafl, gable: GABLE. 2. Dissimilated form *khephel- in Greek kephalē, head: CEPHALIC, CEPHALO-, -CEPHALOUS, ENCEPHALO-, HYDROCEPHALUS. [Pok. ghebh-el- 423.]A fork isn't like a head. Unless it's the noggin of a pointy-headed intellectual.