Here’s a recording in a mystery language.
Do you know or can you guess the language?
On Tuesday night I was at my usual Welsh folk music session having a nice time, then unfortunately a guy fell over and banged his head – he was a bit unsteady on his feet, and had drunk quite a bit. He was okay and has apparently recovered now, but it put a bit of a dampener on the evening.
A dampener is a device that moistens or dampens something, or a discouraging event or remark. Synonyms include buzzkill, killjoy and spoilsport. Do you have any others?
It comes from the Middle English dampen (to stifle, suffocate), from the Proto-Germanic *dampaz (vapour), from *dimbaną (to fog, smoke) [source].
Last night when talking about this incident in French, I learnt the phrase gâcher qch, which means to to a dampener/damper on something. Gâcher on its own means to spoil, ruin, muck up, bungle, waste, squander (chances), temper (plaster) or mix (mortar). It appears in phrases like gâcher le paysage (to be a blot of the landscape) and gâcher (to kill a party [source].
Gâcher comes from the Old French gaschier (to spol, spoil, waste), from guaschier/waschier (to wash, soak), from the Frankish *waskan (to wash, bathe), from the Proto-Germanic *waskaną (to wash), from the Proto-Indo-European *wod- (wet) [source].
Words from the same roots include wash in English, wassen (to wash, clean) in Dutch, guazzàre (to wallow) in Italian, and vaske (to wash, shampoo, launder, shuffle) in Danish [source].
An interesting French I learnt yesterday was hameçonnage, which means phishing or a phishing scam – that is “The malicious act of keeping a false website or sending a false e-mail with the intent of masquerading as a trustworthy entity in order to acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details.” or “The act of circumventing security with an alias.” [source].
It comes from hameçonner (to attract and seduce by a deceptive appearance, to phish), from hameçon (fishhook), from the Old French ameçon, from the Latin hāmus (hook, barb), possibly from the Proto-Germanic *hamô (clothes, skirt, fishnet, harness, collar) [source].
The word hameçon also appears in the expression mordre à l’hameçon, which means to take the bait or rise to the bait, or literally “to bite the hook” [source].
Another word for a scam, swindle or fraud in French is escroquerie, and a phishing scam is escroquerie par hameçonnage [source].
Escroquerie comes from escroquer (to swindle, cheat, defraud), from the Italian scroccare (to scrounge, sponge, cadge, blag) from scrocco (scrounging, sponging), from the Old High German *scurgo, from scurgen (to knock over, push aside), from or related to the Proto-Germanic *skeran (to cut, shear), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to cut) [source].
The English word shear comes from the same roots, as does the French word déchirer (to tear, rip up) [source].
A Japanese word I learnt recently is 建築 (kenchiku), which means architecture or construction and just appeals to my ears.
Related words include:
The charcter 建 means to build, and also appears in such words as 建物 (tatemono – building), 建設 (kensetsu – construction, establishment), and 建てる (tateru – to build).
The charcter 築 means to fabricate, build or construct, and also appears in such words as 築く (kizuku – to build, construct, erect, amass), 築山 (tsukiyama – artificial hill), and 築後 (chikutē – landscape gardening).
Over the past week or so there has been some building work going on in my house, so it’s been a bit chaotic. The central heating system has now been replaced and I finally have a warm house, which is very nice. It’s all running on electricity (before I had a gas boiler) and is powered partly by my solar panels. Next I’m having a small bathroom installed downstairs, and the kitchen roof needs replacing.
Are there any words you’ve come across recently that appeal to your ears?
A way to say excuse me in Irish is gabh mo leithscéal, which is pronounced [ˌɡɔ mə ˈlʲɪʃceːl̪ˠ] or something like that. If you’re talking to two or more people, you would say gabhaigí mo leithscéal. There are similar phrases in Scottish Gaelic – gabh mo leisgeul, and Manx – gow my leshtal. These mean literally “take my excuse”.
The first word in these phrases comes from the Old Irish gaibid [ˈɡavʲiðʲ] (to grasp or receive), from the Proto-Celtic *gabyeti (to grab, seize, take or hold), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰeh₁bʰ- (to grab or take) [source].
Related words in other languages include gafael (to hold, grasp, grip) in Welsh, gavel (capacity, grasp) in Cornish, gable in English, and words for to have in Romance languages, such as avere in Italian and avoir in French [source].
The second word in these phrases means my, and the third one means excuse. The words for excuse come from the Old Irish leithscél / leithsgéal / leithsgéul (excuse), from leth (half, side, direction) and scél (story), so an excuse is a “half story” [source].
A related word in Irish is leithscéalach (fond of excuses, apologetic). There’s a similar word in Scottish Gaelic: leisgeulach (excusing, apologetic) and in Manx: leshtallagh (apologetic, apologist, excuser, extenuating).
There have been a number of articles recently about how the meaning behind ancient cave paintings has been discovered. For example, The article in The Guardian has the headline “Amateur archaeologist uncovers ice age ‘writing’ system” with the subheading “‘Lunar calendar’ found in caves may predate equivalent record-keeping systems by at least 10,000 years”.
The amateur archaeologist in question is Ben Bacon, and he worked with academics from Durham University and University College London. The cave paintings have been found in France and Spain, and in other parts of the world, and date from between about 10,000 and 73,000 years ago [source]. They depict various animals, people and other things, and include recurring patterns of dots, lines and other marks. The researchers believe that the marks represent a kind of lunar calendar which shows the birth cycles of the animals. Other information may be encoded in the paintings as well, however this is not yet understood.
This is not a writing system that represents language, as far as we known, but is a form of visual communication.
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