Yesterday I met up with Paxus and we had a chat about many things. Naturally CouchSurfing and its B C corporatization was one of them. It reminded me I had to post something about the origins of hospitality.

Since 2007 I prefer to host and be a guest through BeWelcome (since 2007). I've been hosting and staying with people through online hospitality networks since 2004 though. I've hosted people and stay with people before that as well though, usually because they were friends or friends or friends. Servas goes back a bit more and has been around since 1949. And hospitality is usually thought of as a very common concept in the Islamic world (6th century). It goes back way further than that still.

Through my interest in languages I came across an excellent book about the origins of Indo-European languages, "The Horse the Wheel and Language", where I found some more information about the origins of the words "guest" and "host":

The Yamnaya horizon is the visible archaeological expression of a social adjustment to high mobility - the invention of the political infrastructure to manage larger herds from mobile homes based in the steppes. A linguistic echo of the same event might be preserved in the similarity between English guest and host. They are cognates, derived from one Proto-Indo-European root (*ghos-ti-). (A "ghost" in English was originally a visitor or guest.) The two social roles opposed in English guest and host were originally two reciprocal aspects of the same relationship. The late Proto-Indo-European guest-host relationship required that "hospitality" (from the same root through Latin hospes 'foreigner, guest') and "friendship" (*keiwos-) should be extended by hosts to guests (both *ghos-ti-), in the knowledge that the receiver and giver of "hospitality" could later reverse roles. The social meaning of these words was then more demanding than modern customs would suggest. The guest-host relationship was bound by oaths and sacrifices so serious that Homer's warriors, Glaukos and Diomedes, stopped fighting and presented gifts to each other when they learned that their grandfathers had shared a guest-host relationship. This mutual obligation to provide "hospitality" functioned as a bridge be- tween social units (tribes, clans) that had ordinarily restricted these obligations to their kin or co-residents (*h,fr6s-). Guest-host relationships would have been very useful in a mobile herding economy, as a way of separating people who were moving through your territory with your assent from those who were unwelcome, unregulated, and therefore unprotected. The guest-host institution might have been among the critical identity - defining innovations that spread with the Yamnaya horizon.

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