MGV Hoffman wrote:Does anyone have other evidence for the etymology of "soo-ee" or "hoo-ee" that might link it back to a proper vocative Greek word?
Well, there are two basic ways words can be related between different languages. One is by borrowing; another is by common inheritance.
In this case, I don't think borrowing is a viable hypothesis for the relationship between classical Greek ὕς, σύς (vocative singular ὗ, σῦ) and sooey
. The Greek term is a classical term and already by Koine times (when the Romans conquered Britain) it has become out of date with the common term for pig became χοῖρος as we see in the New Testament. (Analogously in English, the term pig
is a replacement of the older word swine
So, one would have to suppose that illiterate pig farmers in England or American somehow managed to borrow a literary term for a non-literary purpose, and that's just not plausible at all. Sure, some Greek words are borrowed into English, but usually they relate to the Christian religion (like church
) or they involve a higher literary register.
Rather, the standard etymological resources, e.g. the Oxford English Dictionary, suggest that the sooey
might be a call based on English sow
, which used to be pronounced like "soo." This word sow
and the sw-
do appear to be related to Greek ὕς and Latin sus
by a common inheritance from their ancestral language, Proto-Indo-European. But common descent from Greek's ancestor does not mean it goes back to Greek. It just means that they are cognates. Cousins, not mother-daughter.
Another possibility is that sooey
is simply an onomatopoeic word without an etymology, like shoo
, to ward off flies.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala