A Little Alliteration

I like a little alliteration, don’t you?

A Little Allteration

Alliteration is “The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals.” [source]. As in the sentence above. It comes from Modern/New Latin alliterationem, from alliterare (to begin with the same letter), from Latin ad (to, near) and lītera (letter, script) [source].

Other names for this include consonance (the repetition of consonants sounds) [source] and head rhyme. If similar or indentical vowel sounds are being repeated, as in “How now, brown cow?”, it’s called assonance [source] or slant rhyme.

Other kinds of rhymes include:

  • syllabic rhyme: the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain stressed vowels. E.g. cleaver, silver; pitter, patter.
  • imperfect (or near) rhyme: a rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. E.g. wing, caring
  • weak (or unaccented) rhyme: a rhyme between two sets of one or more unstressed syllables. E.g. hammer, carpenter
  • semirhyme: a rhyme with an extra syllable on one word. E.g. bend, ending
  • forced (or oblique) rhyme: a rhyme with an imperfect match in sound. E.g. green and fiend; one, thumb)
  • pararhyme: all consonants match. E.g. tick, tock; bing, bong

Other types of rhyme, and other ways of classifying rhymes are available [More details].

I use a variety of rhymes in the songs I write. For example, my latest song was inspired by a phrase from the Irish course in Duolingo “Léann na lachan na nuachtán.” (The ducks read the newspaper). I made a more alliterative version: “Tá lacha ag léamh leabhar sa leabhrlann le leon agus luch.” (A duck is reading a book in the library with a lion and a mouse). The English version is only slightly alliterative, and that’s what often happens with translations, and why songs and poems are difficult to translate.

Here are the words of the song. Parts are quite alliterative, in Irish at least.

Eachtraí na Lacha (The Duck’s Adventures)

Tá an lacha ag léamh sa leabharlann
The duck is reading in the library
Tá an lacha ag léamh sa leabharlann
le leon agus luch (with a lion and a mouse)

Tá an lacha ag siúl go Sligeach
The duck is walking to Sligo
Tá an lacha ag siúl go Sligeach
ag lorg lámhainní (looking for gloves)

Tá an lacha ag canadh amhrán
The duck is singing a song
Tá an lacha ag canadh amhrán
faoi sionach an-sionnachúil (about a very cunning fox)

Tá an lacha ag labhairt Laidin
The duck is speaking Latin
Tá an lacha ag labhairt Laidin
lena lucht leanúna (with its supporters)

Tá an lacha ina coladh ina leabaidh
The duck is sleeping in its bed
Tá an lacha ina coladh ina leabaidh
Agus sin deireadh an scéil
And that’s the end of the tale
Agus sin deireadh an scéil

Here’s a rough recording:

I’ve been thinking of making it trilingual in Irish, English and Welsh, but haven’t got round to it yet.

Here’s an alliterative phrase I came up with that seems to translate well into a variety of languages:

  • English: Singers sing songs
  • Albanian: Këngëtarët këndojnë këngë
  • Armenian: Երգիչները երգեր են երգում (Yergich’nery yerger yen yergum)
  • Aymara: Q’uchunakax q’uchunak q’uchupxi
  • Bengali: গায়কেরা গান গায় (Gāẏakērā gāna gāẏa)
  • Bulgarian: Певците пеят песни (Pevtsite peyat pesni)
  • Catalan: Els cantants canten cançons
  • Corsican: I cantanti cantanu canti
  • Croatian: Pjevači pjevaju pjesme
  • Danish: Sangere synger sange
  • Dhivehi (Maldivian): (lavakiyuntherin lavakiyaeve) ލަވަކިޔުންތެރިން ލަވަކިޔައެވެ
  • Esperanto: Kantistoj kantas kantojn
  • Estonian: Lauljad laulavad laule
  • Finnish: Laulajat laulavat lauluja
  • French: Les chanteurs chantent des chansons
  • Galician: Os cantantes cantan cancións
  • Greek: Οι τραγουδιστές τραγουδούν τραγούδια (Oi tragoudistés tragoudoún tragoúdia)
  • Haitian Creole: Chantè chante chante
  • Hindi: गायक गीत गाते हैं (gaayak geet gaate hain)
  • Lingala: Bayembi bayembaka banzembo
  • Mongolian: Дуучид дуу дуулдаг (Duuchid duu duuldag)
  • Romanian: Bayembi bayembaka banzembo
  • Russian: Певцы поют песни (Pevtsy poyut pesni)
  • Swedish: Sångare sjunger sånger
  • Turkish: Şarkıcılar şarkılar söylüyor
  • Welsh: Cantorion yn canu caneuon

Translations by Google Translate. More are available

It’s unusual to find a phrase like this that has alliterative translations into so many different languages.

Are there other kinds of rhymes that you like / use / know?

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Saturn’s Bathing Day

The English word Saturday comes ultimately from the Proto-West Germanic *Sāturnas dag (Saturn’s day), which is a calque (translation) of the Latin diēs Saturnī (day of Saturn).

Saturday

There are similar words in other West Germanic languages, such as West Frisian (saterdei), Low German (Saterdag), and Dutch (zaterdag), all of which mean Saturday [source].

There German word for Saturday, Samstag, comes from Middle High German sam(e)ztac, from Old High German sambaztag (Sabbath day), from Gothic *𐍃𐌰𐌼𐌱𐌰𐍄𐍉 (*sambatō), a version 𐍃𐌰𐌱𐌱𐌰𐍄𐍉 (sabbatō – Saturday, the Sabbath day), from Koine Greek σάββατον (sábbaton – Sabbath), from Hebrew שַׁבָּת‎ (šabbāṯ – Sabbath), possibly from Akkadian 𒊭𒉺𒀜𒌈 (šapattum – the middle day of the lunar month).

Words from the same roots include samedi (Saturday) in French, sâmbătă (Saturday) in Romanian, and szombat (Saturday, Sabbath) in Hungarian [source].

In northern and eastern Germany, another word for Saturday is Sonnabend (“Sunday eve”), as apparently in Germanic recking, the day begins at sunset. It a calque of the Old English sunnanǣfen (Saturday evening) [source].

Words for Saturday in the North Germanic languages have a different root, however. These include lördag in Swedish, lørdag in Danish and Norwegian, leygardagur in Faroese and laugardagur in Icelandic. They all come from the Old Norse laugardagr, from laug (pool) and dagr (day), so literally “bathing day” [source].

These words have also been borrowed into Finnic languages: Saturday is lauantai in Finnish, laupäev in Estonian and lavvantaki in Ingrian.

Are there any other languages in which Saturday means something like “bathing day”, or something else interesting?

See also: Days of the week in many languages on Omniglot.

Joyful Delight

One of the interesting words that came up in my Finnish lessons recently is iloinen [ˈilo̞i̯ne̞n], which means happy, cheerful, glad or merry.

Iloinen Eevi

It comes from ilo (joy, happiness, delight, pleasure, love, lover) from the Proto-Finnic *ilo (joy, delight, happiness), and the adjective suffix -inen [source].

Some related words include:

  • iloisuus = joyfulness
  • iloista = to be happy, glad, cheerful
  • iloiesti = happily, merrily, gaily
  • iloistua = to become delighted
  • iloittelu = frolicking
  • iloistutta = to delight, cheer up
  • ilottomuus = joylessness
  • iloton = gloomy

Related words in other languages include: ilo (joy, happiness) in Ingrian, ilo (fun, joy) in Veps, ilo (joy, elation, happiness, celebration) in Votic, and illu (happiness) in Northern Sami, which was borrowed from Finnish [source].

A related word in Estonian, ilu, used to mean joy delight, happiness or glee, but now means beauty, splendor or ornament [source].

Incidentally, the word ilo (tool) in Esperanto is completely unrelated [source]. It’s a back-formation from the suffix -ilo, which means an instrument or a tool for performing the action of the root. For example, tondilo (scissors) comes from tondi (to shear), and komputilo (computer) comes from komputi (to count, compute) [source].

Ilo can be combined with other suffixes to make words such as ilaro (a set of tools), ilujo (toolbox), and ilarujo (a toolbox for a toolset) [source].

If you’d like to learn some Finnish, you could try FinnishPod101 [Affiliate link], which looks pretty good, and you can try it for free. Here’s a sample:

Concerts and Beer

The Irish word ceolchoirm [ˈcʲolˠ.xorʲəmʲ] means concert. It is made up of ceol (music) and coirm [korʲəmʲ] (feast, banquet, ale, beer). There are similar words in Scottish Gaelic (cuirm-chiùil), and Manx (cuirrey kiaull) [source].

Ánuna

The word coirm comes from the Old Irish word coirm (ale, beer), from the Proto-Celtic *kurmi (beer). Words for beer in the Brythonic Celtic languages come from the same root: cwrw in Welsh, and korev in Cornish and Breton [source].

The Latin word cervēs(i)a [kerˈu̯eː.si.a], which means beer made of wheat, especially of higher quality, comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, as do words for beer in some Romance languages, including cervexa in Galician, cervesa in Catalan and Occitan, cerveza in Spanish and cerveja in Portuguese [source].

From the same Proto-Celtic root we get the French word cervoise [sɛʁ.vwaz], which was a kind of ale or beer made from barley or wheat and without hops during the Middle Ages [source]. The archaic Italian word cervogia [t͡ʃerˈvɔ.d͡ʒa] (beer, ale made from barley or oats) was borrowed from the Old French cervoise [source].

The usual French word for beer is bière [bjɛʁ], which was borrowed from the Middle Dutch bier/bēr (beer), from the Old Dutch *bier, from Frankish *bior (beer), from the Proto-Germanic *beuzą (beer) [source].

Beer samples

Words for beer is some Germanic languages come from the same root, including Bier in German, bier in Dutch, and beer in English [source].

The Italian word for beer, birra, was borrowed from the German Bier, and the Greek word μπίρα (bíra – beer, ale) was borrowed from Italian, as were words for beer in Arabic, بِيرَا‎ (bīrā), Maltese, birra, and Turkish, bira [source].

The Irish word beoir (beer) comes from the Middle Irish beóir (beer), from Old Norse bjórr (beer), which also has descendents in Scottish Gaelic (beòir), Manx (beer), Icelandic (bjór) and Faroese (bjór) [source].

Another word for beer or ale in North Germanic languages is øl (in Danish, Faroese, Norwegian) / öl (in Swedish and Icelandic). This comes from the Old Norse word ǫl (ale, beer), possibly from the Proto-Norse ᚨᛚᚢ (alu – ale), from the Proto-Germanic *alu (beer, ale), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂elut- (beer) [source].

Words for beer in Finnic languages possibly come from the same Proto-Germanic root, including õlu in Estonian, olut in Finnish, Igrian, Karelian and Veps, and oluq in Võro [source].

In Slavic languages words for beer come from the Proto-Slavic *pȋvo (drink, beer, beverage), including пиво (pivo) in Russian, Rusyn, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian, pivo in Slovenian, Czech and Slovak, and piwo in Polish and Sorbian [source].

Here’s a map of words for beer in European languages:

A map of Europe showing words for beer

Source: https://ukdataexplorer.com/european-translator/?word=beer

Cheesy Juice

Today’s etymological adventure starts with the word ost, which means cheese in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. In Danish it’s pronounced [ɔsd̥], in Swedish and Norwegian it’s pronounced [ust] [source]. It also means east, but we’re focusing on the cheesy meaning today.

Ost

Ost comes from the Old Norse ostr (cheese), from Proto-Germanic *justaz (cheese), from Proto-Indo-European *yaus-/*yūs- (sap, juice, broth), from *yewH- (to blend, mix (food), knead).

The Old Norse ostr is also the root of words for cheese in Icelandic and Faroese (ostur), in the Sylt dialect of North Frisian (Aast), in Finnish (juusto), in Estonian (juust), in Northern Sami (vuostá), in Skolt Sami (vuâstt), and in other Finnic and Sami languages [source].

From the PIE root *yaus-/*yūs- we get the Latin: iūs (gravy, broth, soup, sauce, juice), from which we get the English word juice, which was borrowed into Faroese and Icelandic (djús), Swedish and Danish (juice), and other languages [source].

The Welsh word for porridge, uwd [ɨ̞u̯d/ɪu̯d], comes from the PIE root *yaus-/*yūs-, via the Proto-Celtic *yut-/*yot- [source]. The Russian word уха (ukha – a kind of fish soup) comes from the same PIE root [source].

From the Latin iūs, we also get (via French) the English word jus (the juices given off as meat is cooked). The Dutch word jus (gravy) comes from the same French root [source].

The English word cheese comes from the Middle English chese (cheese), from Old English ċīese (cheese), from the Proto-West Germanic *kāsī (cheese), from the Latin cāseus (cheese), from Proto-Indo-European *kwh₂et- (to ferment, become sour) [source].

Words for cheese in other West Germanic language come from the same Germanic root, including: kaas in Dutch and Afrikaans, Käse in German, Kjees in Low German and tsiis in West Frisian [source].

From the Latin cāseus we also get words for cheese in such languages as Spanish (queso), Galician (queixo), Portuguese (queijo), Irish (cáis), Welsh (caws) and Breton (keuz) [More on Celtic words for cheese]. The Swedish word keso (cottage cheese) was borrowed from Spanish [source].

Another word for cheese in Late/Vulgar Latin was fōrmāticum, an abbreviation of cāseus fōrmāticus (form cheese), from fōrma (form, mold) and cāseus (cheese). From this we get words for cheese in French (fromage), Italian (formaggio), Breton (formaj), and similarly cheesy words in various other languages [source].

Cheese, Juice and Porridge

In North Germanic languages such as Swedish, the word for cheese is ost, or something similar. Since I learnt this, I’ve been wondering where it comes from, so I decided to investige.

Ost comes from the Old Norse ostr (cheese), from the Proto-Germanic *justaz (cheese), from the Proto-Indo-European *yewH-s- (sap, juice, broth), from *yewH- (to blend, mix (food), knead).

From the same root we get the Latin word iūs (gravy, broth, soup, sauce, juice), from which we get the English juice, the French jus (juice), and the Welsh uwd [ɨ̞u̯d / ɪu̯d] (porridge, oatmeal).

Words for cheese in Finnic and Samic languages are also related: juusto in Finnish, juust in Estonian, and vuostá in Northern Sami.

Brunost

Multilingual Manchester

Part of the Manchester Day Parade 2016

I had a multilingual day in Manchester today – I spent part of it listening to choirs and other groups performing as part of the Manchester Day celebrations. They sang in English, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Maori, Hebrew and Yiddish, and I also watched the Manchester Day parade.

Part of the Manchester Day Parade 2016

I also went to the Polyglot Pub, a meet-up arranged by Kerstin Cable of Fluent Language. The seven of us who turned up spoke in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and Swedish, plus odd bits of Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Japanese, Finnish and Estonian. This was the first Polyglot Pub in Manchester, and hopefully won’t be the last.

Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service Pipe Band

You can see more photos on Flickr

There will be a language quiz tomorrow, by the way.

eesti keel

Last night I had an interesting chat with an Estonian student who is studying in Bangor about Estonia and the Estonian language. I knew a little about the language already, but realised that I didn’t know any words or phrases in Estonian, apart from its native name – eesti keel – and I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce that: [eːsti.keːl].

When I meet someone who speaks a language I haven’t studied, yet, quite often I know at least how to say hello or other phrases in their language, which usually impresses them, but I haven’t met any Estonians before, as far as I remember, and on this occasion I couldn’t think of a single word. I had an idea that hello was something like terve, but wasn’t sure – this is actually hello in Finnish. In Estonian it’s tere. So now I do know a few words in Estonian.

One thing we talked about was the number of Russian speakers in Estonia – they make up about 20% of the population – and the fact that Estonia is quite a good place to learn Russian. I have considered this, and if I were to do a Russian language course there, I would try to learn some Estonian as well.

Do you try to use whatever you know of a language when you meet someone who speaks it, even if you only know a word or two?

New languages to learn?

Recently I have acquired quite a few new language courses: as a sponsor of the Polyglot Conference in New York I received 10 new Colloquial language courses in Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian. I also bought a Glossika Russian course with the special offer given to conference participants, and bought a Basque course from Assimil with affiliate commission from Amazon France.

My new language courses

I learnt a little Hungarian many years ago, and am currently working on Czech and Russian, but haven’t studied any of the other languages before. I’d love to know at least the basics of all of them, though have no particular need or desire to learn them at the moment. Also, I already have courses in a number of languages that I have only glanced at so far – Arabic, Norwegian, Swedish, Scots and Cornish.

Do you sometimes get carried away with acquiring language courses and other materials?

Do you think you will get round to learn all those languages one day?

Archerien

An interesting word that came up in my Breton lesson today is archerien, which means police. It caught my attention because it has no obvious connection to the word police, and because it is completely different to the equivalent words in other Celtic languages:

– Welsh: heddlu (“peace force”)
– Cornish: kreslu (“peace host”)
– Irish: gardaí (síochána) (“guards of peace”); póilíní
– Manx: meoiryn shee (“peace keepers/stewards”); poleenyn
– Scottish Gaelic: poileas

The English word police comes from the French police (public order, administration, government), from the Latin polītīa (state, government), from the Greek πολιτεία (politeia – citizenship, government, administration, constitution). It is shares the same root as policy, politics, politician and various other words [source].

Many languages use variants on the word police, e.g. Politsei (Estonian), პოლიცია (polits’ia – Georgian), Polizei (German), पुलिस (pulis – Hindi), پلیس (pulis – Persian), Booliis (Somalia), Policía (Spanish), Pulis (Tagalog), but some do their own thing:

– Bavarian: Kibara
– Chinese: 警察 (jǐngchá); 公安 (gōng’ān)
– Faroese: Løgregla
– Greek: Αστυνομία (Astynomía)
– Hungarian: Rendőrség
– Icelandic: Lögregla
– Japanese: 警察 (keisatsu)
– Korean: 警察 (gyeongchal)
– Thai: ตำรวจ (tảrwc)

Are there other examples of languages with a word unrelated to police for police?