Archive for the Category: Proto-Indo-European

Curing, cleaning and caring

Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different French translations of the verb to cure, depending on what kind of cure you’re talking about. If you’re curing food by salting, the French equivalent is saler (to salt); curing by smoking is fumer (to smoke), and curing by drying is sécher (to dry). Curing […]

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Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Market places

Last week the origins of the word agora came up in conversation and I thought I’d find out more. An agora was a place of gathering or marketplace in Ancient Greece. It comes from the Ancient Greek ἀγείρω [ageirō] (I gather, collect), from the Proto-Indo-European *ger- (to assemble, gather together), which is the root of […]

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Voices and calls

After writing yesterday’s post I was thinking about the Czech word hlas [ɦɫas] (voice, vote) and realised that it is quite similar to the Welsh word for voice, llais [ɬais]. I wondered it they share the same root. Hlas comes from the Proto-Slavic *golsъ (voice), from the Proto-Balto-Slavic *galsas (voice), from the Proto-Indo-European *golHsos, from […]

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Towns, gardens and fences

Last week I went to Denbigh, a small town in the north east of Wales, to sing in a concert. On the way there there was some discussion about the origins and meaning of the name Denbigh. So I thought I’d find out more. The English name of the town doesn’t mean anything, but the […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Uitsmijter

The other day I came across the wonderful Dutch word uitsmijter, which means bouncer or doorman, and also a type of food consisting of toast, egg(s), ham, bacon or other meat, cheese and pickles is various combinations. Apparently this is the kind of thing that some Dutch people like to eat after the bars close […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Dirks, Saxons and Messers

I discovered today that dolch is the German equivalent of dirk, the dagger that is worn in the sock in Scottish Highland dress (see photo). The dirk is known as a sgian dubh (black knife or secret knife) in Scottish Gaelic, and the word dirk, which first appeared in English as dork in the 17th […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Knowledge and seeing

I discovered today that there is a connection between the Gaelic word for knowledge, information, news – fios in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, fys in Manx – and the English words video and wit. Their roots can all be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root woid-/wid- (to see/to know), which, according to the OED, is […]

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Cars, carts and chariots

Last week I was told that the English word car originally comes from the Irish word carr (donkey cart). Apparently when cars came to Ireland Irish speakers thought it was better to come up with a new word for them than to name them after the humble donkey cart, so the term gluaisteán (‘moving thing’) […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Spanish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

True sisters

The word for sister in Irish is deirfiúr /dʲɾʲəˈfˠuːɾˠ/, and it has always puzzled me why this word is so different from the words for sister in the other Gaelic languages: piuthar /pju.ər/ in Scottish Gaelic and shuyr /ʃuːr/ in Manx. Yesterday I discovered that deirfiúr is in fact a combination of deirbh /dʲɾʲəv/ (true) […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Gendarmes et policiers

Yesterday there was some discussion of the police at the French Conversation Group – one of the members is a former policeman. We use the word policier, but later I remembered that another French word for policeman is gendarme, and it suddenly dawned on me that gendarme probably comes from gens d’armes (armed man). I […]

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