English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've noted that English word issue sounds like Russian word ищу, which means "I search for".

Issue is something for which a solution needs to be found. So having an issue is closely related with searching for the way to solve it.

Is it an accident only or have those words some common ancestor deeply in etymological history (maybe even dating to PIE)?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Colin Fine, tchrist, RegDwigнt Dec 30 '12 at 18:52

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The etymology of issue can be analysed here. I expect that questions on the etymology of Russian words are considered to be off-topic here. – coleopterist Dec 30 '12 at 17:35
In this kind it is cross-etymology. Would it be rather question for Linguistic.SE? – Danubian Sailor Dec 30 '12 at 17:36
The word жир (fat) may sound like jeer, but that doesn't make them etymologically linked. – Robusto Dec 30 '12 at 17:42
No, these are not related. However, Russian искать and English "ask" are. – Alex B. Dec 30 '12 at 17:43
@Robusto: more to the point, issue sounds nothing like ищу. They are not even remotely similar. This is a rather jarring example of awfully contrived folk etymology. – RegDwigнt Dec 30 '12 at 18:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The English issue ultimately traces to Proto-Indo European (PIE) *ei- 'to go' via Latin ex-ire 'to go out'. Some witness words in Slavic of this PIE root are:

Common Slavic *jiti (to go), *jido. (I go) >
Belarussian itsi (to go), Bulgarian ida (I go), Sloven idem (I go), Chekh jdu (I go), Slovak i'st' (to go), Lower Sorbian du (I go), Polabian eit (to go), Russian idti (to go), idu (I go)

The Russian is (I am supposing) from PIE *ayǝs-, with these notes:

Slavic: *jīskātī; *jīskā 'Wunsch'
Baltic: *eîšk-ā̂- (1) vb.
Germanic: *aisk-ō- vb., *aisk=
Latin: aeruscāre 'betteln, bitten'
Other Italic: Umbr eiscurent 'arcessierint'

So it is reasonable to wonder, since English and Russian are related and do have many pairs of words related at the PIE level. But I don't think this is one.

share|improve this answer


Almost every question of the form "The word X in language A is rather like the word Y in language B: are they related?" has the answer No, unless the languages are closely related or there is a reason why the word should have been borrowed. Surface similarity is rarely significant.

share|improve this answer
But some words have common roots dating back to Pre-Indo-European language. I like to check sometimes the etymology for the words that sound similar in Polish and English to discover that they have roots in Latin or Greek, but the dictionaries rarely are looking deeper in history... – Danubian Sailor Dec 30 '12 at 17:45
@lechlukasz, I hope you understand that you are comparing Modern English (as it is spoken now) and Modern Russian. – Alex B. Dec 30 '12 at 17:51
I find it rather difficult to comprehend that surface similarity is rarely significant. I believe lots of types of linguistic exchanges (verbal cues) must have transpired between people of different regions in history and still do, and which sometimes may have resulted in some words being adopted into certain languages. How is that not significant? – Mohit Dec 30 '12 at 17:54
Of course that is so, Mohit, but unless the words have been borrowed recently, sound-changes in the different languages will usually have obscured any similarity, and created new apparent similarities between unrelated words. There are exceptions, but they are rare if the languages are not closely related. For example. Grimm's law has changed most stop consonants in Germanic languages, so the English have and German haben share a root not with Latin habere ('be accustomed') as one might guess, but with Latin capere ('take, seize'). – Colin Fine Dec 30 '12 at 18:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.