Archive for the Category: Proto-Indo-European

Who are the Celts?

This week I am in the Isle of Man for the CeltFest, a festival of Manx and Celtic music and culture. There are lunchtime concerts every day at the Noa bakehouse in Douglas, and concerts and other events every night in Peel. Last night I went to a fascinating talk by Alice Roberts, an anatomist, […]

Also posted in English, Language, Manx 1 Comment

Standing still on the longest day

Today is the longest day of the year and the summer solstice. After several hot, sunny days in Bangor, today it’s cloudy, warm and muggy. The word solstice comes from the Old French solstice, from Latin sōlstitium (solstice; summer), from sol (sun) and sto (stand), from sistō (I stand still). Sol comes from the Proto-Italic […]

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Wandering prattlers

It has been brought to my attention that in Swedish the most common way to say ‘speak’, at least in Stockholm, is pratar, and that few people use talar anymore. Är detta sant? Is this true? The Duolingo course I’m studying Swedish with uses talar, – pratar has not come up yet. According to Witionary, […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Swedish, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Calabooses, digging and beds

I came across the word calaboose in a book I read recently and as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context I had to look it up. I also like the sound of it, so thought I’d write about it. A calaboose is an informal American term for a prison or jail. It […]

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Ave a butchers at er barnet

The title of this post is an example of Cockney, a form of speech you might hear in London, specifically in the Cheapside district of the City of London. It includes to bits of rhyming slang – butchers and barnet. Do you know, or can you guess what they mean? To (h)ave a butchers (the […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Etymology, Language, Norwegian, Old Norse, Swedish, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Protagonists and sidekicks

When listening to The Allusionist podcast today I learnt an interesting word – tritagonist, who was the actor who played the third role in ancient Greek drama. Tritagonist comes from the Ancient Greek word τρίτἀγωνιστής (triagōnistḗs), from τρίτ ‎(third) and ἀγωνιστής ‎(combatant, participant). The actors who played the first and second roles in ancient Greek […]

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Pull up a pew

One thing that came up in the French Conversation Group last night was church pews, and particularly how uncomfortable they are. We discovered that in French a pew is un banc (d’église). Banc also means seat or bench, and can mean other things in combination with other words: – banc de sable = sandbank – […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

The white light of the world

An interesting and useful Russian word I came across today is свет [svʲet], which means light, and also lights, lighting, day, radiance, power, electricity, world and (high) society. It comes from the Old East Slavic свѣтъ ‎(světŭ – light; world), from Proto-Slavic *světъ ‎(light; world), from the Proto-Balto-Slavic *śwaitas, from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱwoytos / *ḱweytos […]

Also posted in Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Language, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Going through the motions

In English you can use the verb to go to indicate any kind of travel – it doesn’t matter if you’re going on foot, by bicycle, car, bus, train, boat or plane. There are other verbs you can use: walk, stroll, hike, cycle, drive, travel, sail, fly, etc, but you can also just use go. […]

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Plains, pianos and floors

The Welsh word llawr [ɬau̯r] means floor, deck, gallery, stage, platform, cellar, basement, ground, face, and a few other things. I discovered today that it has cognates in all the other Celtic languages: – leur (Cornish) = floor, ground – leur (Breton) = area, ground, floor, soil – lár (Irish) = ground, floor, middle, centre […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Italian, Language, Manx, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments
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