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.
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.
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.
You can see more photos on Flickr
There will be a language quiz tomorrow, by the way.
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?
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.
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?
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?
Image you’re at a party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It’s a Saturday or Sunday, the party’s been going on for quite a while and you’re starting to feel somewhat fatigued. In English and most other languages it would take a whole sentence to explain this situation.
In Estonian however, there’s a word that covers just such an eventuality – Sünnipäevanädalalõpupeopärastlõunaväsimus, which according to Corcaighist, means “The tiredness one feels on the afternoon of the weekend birthday party”. Or if you break it down into parts “birth.day.week.end.party.after.lunch.tiredness”.