All: differentiating arm & hand, leg & foot

< Previous | Next >

polskajason

Member
English - American
Do the Slavic languages you are familiar with have different words for the hand and foot, or are the words ruka and noga (or something similar) used for the entire limb without a different word commonly used for hand and foot?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    As far as I know, all languages have separate words (they obviously need them, at least in the field of medicine!) but there is a general tendency to use "leg" and "arm" for everything.

    Slovenian:

    arm = roka, hand = dlan

    leg = noga, foot = stopalo
     

    eeladvised

    Member
    Slovene - Slovenia
    IMO it's a bit misleading to say hand = dlan like that. I don't think I've ever seen "dlan" used for anything other than "palm". It's true that the SSKJ mentions "hand" as a second sense of "dlan", but it marks this sense as literary and I've never encountered it in practice. Most of the time, where English would use "hand", we use "roka" (to shake hands = rokovati se; empty-handed = praznih rok). Thus for all practical purposes, in Slovenian we can't conveniently distinguish between "hand" and "arm" without resorting to circumlocutions.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    In this case, Croatian is very similar to Slovene: ruka 'arm'/'hand', dlan 'palm' (there's also šaka 'fist', but indeed no specific word for 'hand'), noga 'leg + foot', stopalo 'foot', the equivalent of dlan 'palm' would probably be taban 'sole'? There's also the expressions rukovati se 'to shake hands' and praznih ruku 'empty-handed'

    *there is also an archaic word pesnica (and an even more archaic pest) 'fist', cognate to English fist. Some derivations, used (at least according to my intuition, I don't remember using them in everyday conversation) largely in medicine, include pešće 'carpus', zapešće 'metacarpus'.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    *there is also an archaic word pesnica (and an even more archaic pest) 'fist', cognate to English fist. Some derivations, used (at least according to my intuition, I don't remember using them in everyday conversation) largely in medicine, include pešće 'carpus', zapešće 'metacarpus'.

    Interesting, pest is the perfectly regular word for fist in Slovenian. Your wrist is zapestje and a wristband (a piece of jewellery) is zapestnica.

    The sole of the foot is called podplat (also applies to the sole of the shoes etc.) and the "upper" part of the foot (the one that you see if you look down) is nart.
     
    Last edited:

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    That's interesting, even if not unexpected (from my impression Slovene tends to preserve archaic Vocabulary better than most other Western South Slavic varieties, especially Štokavian which standard Croatian is based on)! Zapešće can also be translated 'wrist', although personally I just call it zglob 'joint'. In Croatian, potplat is sole of the shoes only, and I don't think we have a name for the upper part of the foot...
     
    I'll interject with my usual etymological context. It turns out that Slavic has generalized the words for the distal parts: “hand” and “foot”, both terms being newly formed and expressive. Rǫka comes from the lost verb (preserved in the Lithuanian rinkti) “to gather”, that is “a part of the body that gathers things”. Noga originally meant “hoof, claw” (the meaning preserved in the Lithuanian naga), the word nogъtь (Lithuanian nagutis) “nail” being its diminutive.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Bulgarian

    Arm - ръка
    Hand - китка

    Leg - крак
    Foot - ходило, стъпало

    But arm and leg are used most of the time.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Do the Slavic languages you are familiar with have different words for the hand and foot, or are the words ruka and noga (or something similar) used for the entire limb without a different word commonly used for hand and foot?
    The English is somewhat imprecise in this respect, because technically the arm is a part of the hand between the shoulder and the elbow, then there is a forearm and then the palm. However the common usage differs and the word "hand" can be used for the palm and the arm - for the whole hand, especially in common phrases and collocations.

    Slavic languages are not different with this respect. For example in Polish :
    • Arm is "ramię", although often it's used to mean "shoulder" (like in 'shrug the shoulders', 'wzruszyć ramionami'). The proper word for the shoulder, "bark" is used virtually only in anatomical and medical contexts.
    • Forearm is "przedramię"
    • Palm is "dłoń"
    • Hand is "ręka", although it's often used in the meaning of "dłoń" - just like in English.
    With leg is somewhat less confusing : leg is "noga" and the foot - "stopa". Although all parts of the leg have their pepper names : udo, podudzie (also goleń or łydka which seems to be the most popular, although as far as I know the anatomical usage differs) and stopa.
     
    True, Slavic languages have specialized words for different parts of appendages, but the idea is that these are mostly used in anatomical contexts. Whenever a limb is meant as a generic term, Slavic uses “hand” and “foot”. In most (all?) Slavic languages you can't distinguish in the everyday speech “hold me in your arms” and “hold me in your hands”. Baltic languages, the sister branch of Slavic, have the same problem as far as I can tell, so this semantic loss may be ancient.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    As far as I know, all languages have separate words (they obviously need them, at least in the field of medicine!) but there is a general tendency to use "leg" and "arm" for everything.
    You can put it that way, yes.
    In Russian the general terms are рука (ruká) and нога (nogá); the specific anatomical terms for a foot and a hand are стопа/ступня (stopá/stupnyá) and кисть (kíst', also "brush") respectively. A sole is подошва (podóshva; also a boot's sole) and a palm is ладонь (ladón' - apparently from *dolonь, through a metathesis; the spelling reflects Russian akanye). The Church Slavonic words длань and десница (dlán', desnítsa - "hand" and "right hand" respectively) must be also familiar to the more literate public; шуйца (shúytsa, "left hand") is outdated and very poorly known.
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The English is somewhat imprecise in this respect, because technically the arm is a part of the hand between the shoulder and the elbow, then there is a forearm and then the palm.
    In Russian there's, in fact, a similar (or even worse) problem with the words плечо (plechó) and бедро (bedró). In the normal language, плечо means a shoulder, but in the anatomical sense it's an arm (as opposed to a forearm). And бедро means both a thigh and a hip (only a thigh in the narrow anatomical sense, though).
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It was a surprise to me to discover the English word "lap" (sitting or lying on someone's lap; laptop) while, in Russian, it is "on someone's knees" ("на коленях"), which is, I guess, pretty ridiculous itself because the actual knee surface is too small to sit on.
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It was a surprise to me to discover the English word "lap" (sitting or lying on someone's lap; laptop) while, in Russian, it is "on someone's knees" ("на коленях"), which is, I guess, pretty ridiculous itself because the actual knee surface is too small to sit on.
    Yeah, колено (koléno) is annoyingly polysemantic. And it seems the same was true for локоть (lókot'); while now it normally means "elbow", old dictionaries (as well as the well-known historical unit of length) also indicate the meaning "forearm".
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    It was a surprise to me to discover the English word "lap" (sitting or lying on someone's lap; laptop) while, in Russian, it is "on someone's knees" ("на коленях"), which is, I guess, pretty ridiculous itself because the actual knee surface is too small to sit on.
    And thus it would be very uncomfortable for both persons. ;-)
    Anyway, in Polish it's the same: "siedzieć komuś na kolanach".
     

    Chrzaszcz Saproksyliczny

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    In my experience, Polish native speakers rarely said "ramię" for an arm, or "bark" for shoulder, unless they wanted to be very specific (in sports or medical contexts). In everyday speech, I've more often heard ręka for either arm or hand (as in two SJP PWN's definitions), dłoń for specifically "hand" if one needed precision, and ramię for shoulder. The palm is sometimes referred to as wewnętrzna strona dłoni to avoid confusion.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top