Soft mitigation

The Russian word милый means dear, sweet (having a pleasing disposition); beloved, dear or darling. I learnt this while putting together a page of terms of endearment in Russian today.

It comes from the Proto-Slavic word *milъ (sweet, dear), from the Proto-Indo-European word *meh₁y- (mild, soft).

The Czech word milý (nice, kind, good, dear, pleasant, sweet; boyfriend) comes from the same root, as do similar words in other Slavic languages, such as the Belarusian мілы (sweet, nice), the Bulgarian мил (dear), and the Polish miły (nice, pleasant).

The Latin mītis (gentle, mild, ripe) comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root, as does the Italian word mite (mild, moderate, balmy), the Portuguese word mitigar (to mitigate), the Spanish word mitigar (to mitigate, alleviate, allay, assuage, quench, soothe), and the English word mitigate.

I’m would like to put together pages of terms of endearment / affection in other languages. Can you help with this?

Cheeky faces

Face

In my Czech lessons this week I learnt two words that can mean face – obličej [ˈoblɪt͡ʃɛj] and tvář [tvaːr̝̊], which also means cheek. I couldn’t work out why one was used to mean face in some contexts, and the other in other contexts. Can any of you enlighten me?

Obličej comes from the Proto-Slavic ob + lice (face, cheek), which is also the root of the Czech líc (front, face, right side, face side) and líce (cheeks).

Cognates in other Slavic languages include: Polish oblicze (face, character), Russian обличье (image, character, look), and Ukrainian обли́ччя (face, character) [source].

Tvář comes from the Proto-Slavic *tvarь (creation, creature) [source]. Cognates in other Slavic languages include: Polish twarz (face), Russian тварь (creature, being, animal, beast, monster; mean, vile, worthless), and Croatian tvar (substance, material) [source].

Another Czech word for face is ksicht, from the German Gesicht (face).

Books, books, books

Book-related words in Czech

One of the Czech words I learnt this week is knihkupectví [ˈkɲɪxkupɛt͡stviː], which means bookstore / bookshop.

It’s one of a number of words that come from kniha (book), including :

  • knihkupec – book seller
  • knihovna – library, bookcase
  • knihovník – librarian
  • knihomol – bibliophile, book lover, bookworm
  • knížka / knížečka – diminutives of book
  • knižní záložka – bookmark

The word kniha comes from the Proto-Slavic *kъniga (book), but beyond that its origins are shrouded in the mists of time. More details.

In Czech it’s easy to see the connection between these words, which makes learning them easier. In English there are book-related words derived from Old English (book), Latin (library) and Greek (bibliophile).

In Welsh most book-related words share a common root:

  • llyfr [ɬɨ̞vr / ɬɪvr̩] – book
  • llyfygell – library
  • llyfygellydd – librarian
  • siop llyfrau – bookshop / bookstore
  • llyfraf / llyfro / llyfru – to book, record, register, enrol
  • llyfran – small book, booklet, pamphlet
  • llyfreugar – fond of books
  • llyfrgarwr – bibliophile, bookworm
  • llyfrbryf – bookworm
  • llyfrgaes – bookcase
  • llyfrgaer – bookkish, studious
  • llyfrnod – bookmark
  • cyfriflyfr – ledger
  • dyddlyfr – diary, daybook
  • gwerslyfr – textbook
  • llawlyfr – handbook, manual

The word llyfr was borrowed from the Latin liber (book; the inner bark of a tree), which is also the root of the English word library, and words for book in many other European languages [source].

Where? Whence? Whither?

Where, Whence, Whither?

In Russian, there are several different words meaning where. Each one means something slightly different, although in English they can all be translated as where.

где [ɡdʲe] means where, as in what location, and can also mean anywhere or somewhere. For example:

  • Где Вы живёте? = Where do you live?
  • Подумайте, не забыли ли где = Try and think whether you left it anywhere / somewhere

Related words include:

  • где-нибудь = somewhere, anywhere
  • где-то = somewhere
  • негде = nowhere
  • кое-где = here and there

где comes the from Old East Slavic къде (kŭde – where), from the Proto-Slavic kъde (where), from the Proto-Indo-European *kʷú-dʰe (where).

куда [kʊˈda] means where (to), and also what, why or much. It is the equivalent of whither in English, although that is rarely used these days. For example:

  • Куда ты идёшь? = Where are you going?
  • Куда мне столько денег? Why would I want so much money?
  • Мой дом куда больше = My house is much bigger
  • Он прекрасно знал, куда бежать = This kid knew exactly what he was doing

Related words include:

  • кое-куда = this place and that
  • куда-нибудь = anywhere, somewhere
  • куда-то = somewhere

куда comes from the Proto-Slavic *kǫda ( where, whither), from the Proto-Indo-European *kʷom-dʰ- (where).

откуда [ɐtˈkudə] means where from, from where, from which or whence (another rarely-used word). For example:

  • Откуда ты? = Where are you from?
  • Откуда ты это знаешь? = How do you know about that?
  • Откуда я знаю? = How do I know?

Related words include:

  • откуда-нибудь = from somewhere (or other)
  • откуда-то = from somewhere

откуда comes from the same root as куда.

Sources: Reverso, Wiktionary

Glass eyes

Glasögon

Recently I learnt an interesting word in Swedish – glasögon, which means glasses or spectacles, and literally means “glass eyes”.

Glas means glass, and comes from the Proto-Germanic *glasą (glass), from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰel- (to shine, shimmer, glow) [source].

Ögon is the plural of öga (eye), and comes from the Old Swedish ø̄gha (eye), from Old Norse auga (eye), from Proto-Germanic *augô (eye), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃ekʷ- (eye; to see) [source].

The Swedish word glas reminds me of the Russian word for eye, глаз (glaz), which I remember by thinking of a glass eye. Глаз comes from the Old East Slavic глазъ (glazŭ – ball, eye), from the Proto-Slavic *glazъ (ball), from Proto-Indo-European *g(ʰ)el- (round, spherical, stone) [source].

The Russian word for glasses is очки (ochki), which comes from очи (ochi), the plural of око (oko), the old Russian word for eye, which comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root as öga and eye [source].

In Danish and Norwegian, the word for glasses is briller, which means ‘a person wearing glasses’ in Dutch, and to shine or sparkle in French [source]. The German word for glasses is simliar – Brille, and the Dutch is bril [source].

Briller, Brille and bril come from the Middle High German berillus (beryl), from the Latin beryllus (beryl), probably from the Ancient Greek βήρυλλος (bḗrullos – beryl), from Sanskrit वैडूर्य (vaidurya – a cat’s eye gem; a jewel), from Dravidian. Probably named after the city Velur (modern day Belur / ಬೇಲೂರು) in Karnataka in southern India. The first glasses, made in about 1300 in Italy, were made from beryl [source].

Beryl is a mineral which comes from three forms: morganite (orange), aquamarine (blue-green – pictured top right) and heliodor (green-yellow).

The French word for glass, lunettes, means “little moons” [source].

Are there interesting words for glasses, spectacles, specs, or eyes in other languages?