The *K’ôg ‘To Dead Father’ Hypothesis

Michael Carr, Journal of Liberal Arts, 1989, 77, 51-117.

Abstract: Why does Chinese käo < *k’ôg ‘dead father; think’ violate the linguistic universal of avoiding ‘die; death’ words? The postulated answer is that *kôg anciently meant ‘to dead father’, i.e., ‘to communicate with the spirit of one’s dead father’. This hypothesis unifies the diverse ‘dead father; father; old age; examine; think; complete; personal name; strike; etc.’ meanings of *kôg; and it resolves many textual misreadings … *kôg can be literally understood as ‘do the “to to dead father” ceremony’, rather than trying to interpret this as ‘achievement’, ‘fulfillment, ‘answer’, ‘fame’, or ‘ritual vessel’. Evidence suggests that *kôg was the name of an ancestral sacrifice which involved divination, ‘striking’ bells to beckon spirits, drinking sacrificial wine, and actual/imagined spiritual communication.