Donnerstag, 7. Februar 2013

Synchronical and diachronical etymology of the term "Knopmes" / "Knopmetz"

So, as I said, the hunt is on, and I like to circle the topic by etymology first. I learned the variant  "Knopmes" is still used in the Netherlands today, and it refers to a gardening or pocket knife. To etymologically translate the term, however, we must keep in mind that its semantics might have changed in history. Thusly, I also follow the diachronical approach, meaning, comparing the modern use of the word to the (postulated) historical use. Knopmes / Knopmetz is a composite word constituted by the words Knop- and -mes / -metz. In medieval high and nether German (Continental Saxon) the word "mez" referred to a knife that often was used to part coins. A quarter was originally exactly that: a quartered coin. the medieval high German term "des mezzes" (Gen.) meant "of certain measure" or "measure". This is similar to the Anglo-Saxon "meohtes", and reminds of the Anglo - Saxon "meohte-seax", a small knife for eating and utility tasks, which might be identical to the "hadseax" or *hadasax. The variant "metz" is due to dialectical reasons and the variants differ in the ending of the word, depending on the region. The term "Knop" is originally a continental Saxon word, due to the not realized change in the p -> f  (skip / (Engl. ship) -> modern German "Schiff") change during the documented period, and thusly a dialect spoken North of the Benrath language frontier in Germany. Hypothetically realizing the second stage of historical sound alteration would result in a translation of knop->*kno-f / *kno-ff / or into *kno-pf. Note: The asterisk is used to mark the reconstrucive, hypothetical translation in this case and executed by myself and does not stand for a reconstructed Indo-European word. In modern German, a "Knopf" is a button, and *knof could be referred to modern German "Knauf" (pommel) or modern English "knob". The modern Dutch term "Knop" also refers to the *knof / modern English "knob", if I am not entirely mistaken, for in gardening, the Dutch "knopmes" is used to cultivate trees.

[edit] The magic troll wants me to mention that the term "Nubsi" also is coherent with the term "Knop" or English "knob". It is a teenie-weenie itsy-bitsy version of a knob. *ggg*

This results in a hypothesis that the "Knopmetz" might have been a knife, not a dagger, and thusly with only one edge. It would have been short, for the documents state that, and the juristic and trade documents may indicate that, while it also was presented to princes, it was widely carried by many social classes and would have been available in several qualities. The handle would have had a pommel, a knob or disc. Also, it can be stated, that presumeably the "dehhen", "deken", "degen" was an entirely different breed, as it is well documented throughout history that the "degen" more often than not meant a dagger with two edges, often a narrow triangular blade and even a triangular cross-section.

What the two "Brackerfelders" had in common, however, was the steel. Juristic documents of that time indicate a quarrell between traders from Cologne delivering "faux" Breckerfelder steel, which was actually from the Siegerland region. It is also indicated that the steel was marked as "Brackerfelder" or "Breckerfelder". Now the steel from the Siegerland region had an excellent reputation. If there was a quarrell about the Breckerfelder steel being used as a label, I ask myself, how much better would that quality be? That it had to be better, seems obvious by the documents, but was it actually, and if, why was that so? More questions, and the hunt for my personal "knopmetz" goes on!

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