SLOVAK ľahtikár ‘CARELESS, LIGHT-HEADED PERSON’ < *ľahostikár?

2015. № 1 (4), 197-209

Ľ. Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences


Czech etymologist V. Machek tried to explain Slovak ľahtikár ‘careless, light-headed person’ as a reflex of an original *ľahostikár, related to Slovak ľahký ‘light (weighted), easy, etc.’ Тhis etymological hypothesis implies the following derivational chain: Slovak ľahosť ‘lightness, easiness’ > *ľahost-i-ť ‘to live easily, carelessly, etc.’ > *ľahosti-k-a-ť (expressive verbal formation) > *ľahostik-ár (nomen agentis). From the phonetic point of view, the reconstruction *ľahostikár > ľahtikár presupposes an irregular phonetic evolution; however, in the context of Slovak phonetics, we would rather expect here the development *ľahostikár > *ľahstikár > *ľastikár (instead of ľahtikár). In our opinion, Slovak ľahtikár might be traced back to *lachťikár, derived from Slovak dial. lachťika ‘primitive bed, pallet’ which we explain as a loanword from Latin (cf. Latin lectica ‘litter’, derived from Latin lectus ‘bed, couch’). *Lachťikár — modified into standard Slovak ľahtikár under the influence of ľahký — may have been used originally as a derogatory term for a person who, because of his social status, had to sleep on a primitive wooden pallet in a stable (as opposed to the “standard” bed in the room of a village house); the semantic development of the word may be reconstructed as *‘who sleeps on a primitive bed, wooden pallet (lachťika)’ > *‘servant, stable boy’ > *‘primitive, rude person’ > ‘not serious, careless, light-headed person’.