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Designations for Money

14, 11, where it refers to money in general) by “faihu” (cattle, money). The Old High German word “gelt” can be found in a tenth century glossary to the Bible with the meaning of “payment,” “ransom,” or “fine,” as a translation of the Latin word “aes.” In Old Norse, on the other hand, the word “giald” was already commonly used in the sense of our present-day term money. In Middle High German the term “gelt” was customarily used to designate “payment” (kind and object of payment), “wealth,” or “income,” but was also frequently used with the present-day meaning of “money”—by Hugo von Langenstein, for example, in Martina (ed. by Adelbert von Keller, Bibliothek des Litterarischen Vereins in Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 1856, XXXVIII, 543) where he employs the form “ze gelte keren” (to measure in money); and by Peter Suchenwirt, Werke (ed. by Alois Primisser, Wien, 1827, pp. 29, 115 and passim, esp. p. 329). (See F.G. Graff, Althochdeutscher Sprachschatz, Berlin, 1838, IV, 191; G.F. Benecke and Wilhelm Müller, Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch, Leipzig, 1854, I, 522ff.; Lorenz Diefenbach, Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der gothischen Sprache, Frankfurt am Main, 1851, II, 403.)

      There is a connection between the designations for money and cattle, the earliest medium of exchange, in most languages. In Old Norse the word “naut” means both cow and money, and in Old Frisian the word “sket” means both cattle and money. The Gothic “faihu,” the Anglo-Saxon “feoh,” the Northumbrian “feh” and corresponding expressions in all the other Germanic dialects were used interchangeably to designate cattle, wealth, money, etc. (See Wilh. Wackernagel, “Gewerbe, Handel und Schifffahrt der Germanen,” Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum, IX 1853, 549, note 101; Diefenbach, op. cit., I, 350ff. and II, 758; and the interesting note in Richard C. Trench, A Select Glossary of English Words Used formerly in Senses Different from their Present, London, 1873, p. 30.) In the Lex Frisionum, Additio Sapientium, Tit. X, (in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hannover, 1863, XV, 695) we read “equum . . . vel quamlibet aliam pecuniam”;[2] and in the Glossa Cassellanae we read “pecunia fihu” (in Johann Georg Eckhart, Commentarii de Rebus Franciae Orientalis et Episcopatus Wirceburgensis, Frankfurt, 1729, I, 853–855). The Old Slavic word “skotum,” meaning “cattle” is used in its Lithuanian diminutive form, “skatikas” or “skatiks,” in the meaning of groat (see Georg H.F. Nesselmann, Wörterbuch der littauischen Sprache, Königsberg, 1850). The derivation of the Latin words pecunia, peculium, etc., from the word pecus (cattle) has frequently been pointed out. Similarly, a legend mentioned by Julius Pollux has often been cited, since according to it the earliest money

     The concepts cattle and money are also related in Arabic. There is evidence of this in the fact that the word “mâl” means property, or cattle in the singular, and wealth or money (amwâl) in the plural. (See Georg W. Freytag, Lexicon Arabico-Latinum, Halle, 1837, IV, 221; and Maninski, p. 4225.[3])

[1]To Chapter VIII, Sections 1 and 2. See notes 3 and 7 of Chapter VIII.—TR.

[2]“a horse . . . or some other monetary payment.”

[3]We were unable to verify this reference.—TR.

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