Butter Goose Table

smörgåsbord

One of the Dutch words I learnt this week is boterham [ˈboːtərˌɦɑm], which means sandwich. The boter part means butter, but it’s not certain where the ham part comes from – possibly *ramme / remme (thick slice of bread), or from ham (chunk). Or it might be an abbreviation of boterenbroot (buttered bread) [source].

In Swedish one word for sandwich is smörgås, from smör (butter) and gås (goose). It originally referred to small pieces of butter which float to the surface of the milk as it is churned, and which were spread on bread, and came to mean bread, butter plus toppings, or an open sandwich [source].

A smörgåsbord [ˈsmœrɡɔsˌbuːrd] (“butter-goose-table”) is a buffet made up of many cold dishes, and the slices of meat, cheese and other toppings on the smörgåsar are known as smör­gås­pålägg.

Other Swedish words for sandwich include macka (open sandwich), sandvikare (sandwich), snitt (dainty sandwich, cut, fashion) and sandwich.

The sandwich is named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, who is reputed to have invented it as a convenient way to eat while playing cards. He didn’t come up with the idea of putting meat or filling between two slices of bread, but he certainly popularised it and gave it his title [source].

Sandwiches are also known as sarnies, sangers or butties, at least in the UK. Are there other words for them in other English-speaking places?

Are there interesting words for sandwiches in other languages?

Cymru Wales typeface

According to an interesting article I read today on Facebook, a new typeface has been developed recently for Welsh.

The typeface was commissioned by the Welsh government, and is called Cymru Wales. It includes digraphs for double letters like dd, ll and rh, and is used by Transport for Wales / Trafnidiaeth Cymru, who run the trains in Wales.

It was designed by Smörgåsbord, a Dutch design studio with a Swedish name and offices in Cardiff. It is based partly on the styles of handwriting used in old Welsh manuscripts, such as the Black Book of Carmarthen / Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin and the Red Book of Hergest / Llyfr Coch Hergest, and was also inspired by other scripts such as Icelandic and Arabic.

Here are some examples:

Cymru Wales font

[Source]

I haven’t found anywhere to get hold of the typeface yet.

Do you know of other typefaces that have been developed for specifically languages recently?

Sponge Mushrooms

In Swedish, I learned this week, there are two words for mushroom: svamp [svamp] (fungus, mushroom, toadstool, sponge) and champinjon [ɧampɪnˈjuːn] (mushroom) [source].

Svamp comes from the Old Swedish svamper (fungus, mushroom), from Old Norse svampr / svǫppr (sponge, mushroom, ball), from the Proto-Germanic *swammaz / swambaz (sponge, mushroom, fungus, swamp), which is also the root of the English word swamp [source].

The Old English word swamm (mushroom, fungus, sponge), and the Middle English swam (swamp, muddy pool, bog, marsh; fungus, mushroom), come from the same root as well [source].

Mushroom was borrowed from the Anglo-Norman musherum / moscheron (mushroom), from the Old French moisseron (mushroom), possibly from the Old French mosse / moise (moss), from the Frankish *mosa (moss) [source]

Champinjon was borrowed from the French champignon (mushroom, fungus, accelerator), from the Vulgar Latin *campāniolus (grows in the field), from the Late Latin campāneus (pertaining to fields), from Latin campānia (level country), which is also the root of the words campaign and champagne.

Apparently champinjon is used to refer to mushrooms used as food, and was borrowed into Swedish in 1690 [source], while svamp refers to mushrooms and fungi in general.

Svamp

Fizzing Ducts

One of the Danish words I learnt recently is bruser, which means shower. It’s very different to words for shower in other Germanic languages I know, such as dusch in Swedish, and Dusche in German, so I thought I’d investigate it.

p132_02

As well as meaning shower, bruser also means sprayer or rose (of a watering can). Another word for shower is brusebad (“shower-bath”). The verb bruse means to fizz, cascade, effervesce, rush, roar or murmur.

In Swedish there is a similar word: brusa, which means to make noise (like waves, wind, streaming water). While in Norwegian brusa means to fizz (emit bubbles, foam, make a fizzing or rushing sound), or to puff up ones feathers.

These words were borrowed from the Middle Low German brûsen (to roar, skim), which is thought to be of onomatopoeic origin.

The Swedish word dusch, the German Dusche, and the Norwegian dusj, come from the French douche (shower), from the Italian doccia (shower, drainpipe, plaster cast), from the Latin ductus (lead, guided), from dūcō (I lead, guide). This is also the root of the English words duct and duke.

Sources: ordbogen.com, Wiktionary, Svensk etymologisk ordbok

Overnighting

If I asked you, “Where are you overnighting?”, you might think it a bit strange, except in certain circumstances, but you’d probably guess that I meant “Where are you staying (overnight)?”.

In Swedish, I discovered this week, this wouldn’t sound strange – Var övernattar du? is one way to say “Where are you staying?”.

The verb övernatta (“to overnight”), means to stay overnight or to stay the night. Övernattning means a sleepover, overnight or accommodation, and övernattningsstuga means a refuge.

Apparently övernatta is usually used to refer to staying for one night, but sometimes for two of three nights as well.

Other ways to say to stay in Swedish include:

  • sova över = to stay the night (“to sleep over”)
  • stanna (över natten) = to stay (overnight)
  • sitta inne = to be / stay indoors

In Scotland if someone asks you “Where do you stay?”, or in Scots “Whaur dae ye stey?”, they usually mean “Where do you live (permanently)?” and not “Where are you staying (temporarily)?” When I first heard this, it confused me a bit, but I’m used to it now. Another way to say this in Scots is “Whaur dae ye bide?”.

In Scots to stey means to stay, stop, dwell, reside, make one’s home. So it seems that it can mean both to stay somewhere temporarily, and to live somewhere permanently.

AirBnB in Petržalka

Sources: bab.la, Ord.se, Dictionar o the Scots Leid

Edinburgh

I am currently in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Language Event, brought to you by the people behind the Polyglot Conference. It’s a smaller than other polyglot events I’ve been to, with only 100 or participants, and the main focus is languages of the Isles, or the British Isles and Ireland, if you prefer.

The Language Event, Edinburgh

I arrived earlier this evening, and eventually found the AirBnB I’m staying in after a few wrong turns. Then I discovered that my phone charger was no longer in my bag – it must have dropped out somewhere, probably on the train. So by the time I found my accommodation, it had only 3% charge. I hope to borrow someone’s charger tomorrow, or I might have to buy a new one.

I met up with some of the other participants at a large bar in the centre of Edinburgh. Some I know already from previous such events, and others I didn’t know before. Most of the conversations were in English, but I also spoke some Welsh, Russian, Swedish, Mandarin and Japanese.

The event starts tomorrow morning, and I’ll be giving a talk about connections between Celtic languages tomorrow afternoon. I know there are speakers of Welsh, Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic here, and there may even be some Cornish and Breton speakers.

More photos from Edinburgh:

Edinburgh / Dùn Èideann

New Year

It seems that a new year, and indeed a new decade has started, so Happy New Year / Decade!

I’ve noticed that some people are looking back at what they’ve done / achieved, etc over the past decade, so I thought I’d do something similar.

Back in 2009 I was studying for an MA in Linguistics at Bangor University, while working on Omniglot in my spare time, and writing for a couple of other websites. I finished my course in September of that year, though didn’t officially graduate until the following year, and have been working full-time on Omniglot since then.

Over the past decade Omniglot has grown quite a bit – I add something new, or make improvements, almost every day. The site now contains:

… and much more.

Since 2009 Omniglot has been visited by 176 million people, who have made 234 milion visits and viewed 407 million pages. There have been visitors every single country and territory, even Antarctica and North Korea. The top ten countries vistors come from are USA, India, UK, Canada, Philippines, Australia, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa. The most spoken languages of visitors are: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Dutch, Russian, Chinese and Polish.

Over the past decade I’ve studied and dabbled with a few languages, including: Breton, BSL, Cornish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Icelandic, Irish, Latin, Manx, Romanian, Russian, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Toki Pona. I also started creating my own language: Laala, and made some con-scripts such as Crymeddau and Curvetic.

I joined a French conversation group back in 2009, and have been going almost every week since then. This has really helped to improve my French and I feel a lot more confident about using it now. When I can, I also go to a Welsh conversation group, and for a while I tried to run a polyglot conversation group.

Every summer I’ve been to Ireland to do courses in Irish language, traditional Irish songs, harp and/or bodhrán playing. I’ve also been to Scotland quite a few times to do courses in Scottish Gaelic songs.

In 2012 I started writing songs and tunes, and have written quite a few since then, especially in 2019, when I wrote a new song almost every month and several new tunes. I also started to write out the music for my tunes and songs, and to make new arrangements of them.

The first song I wrote was The Elephant Song, which came to me after going to a poetry writing workshop.

I haven’t made a good recording of my most recent song, but here’s one I wrote in November / December 2019:

Since 2014 I’ve been to a number of polyglot events, including the Polyglot Gathering and the Polyglot Conference. At most of these I’ve given talks or run workshops.

Polyglottery

In 2018 I started the Radio Omniglot Podcast, and have made 27 episodes so far. I try to make two episodes per month, but don’t always manage it.

In 2018 I also launched the Celtiadur, a collection of Celtic cognates, where I explore links between modern and ancient Celtic languages. This is an extension of the Celtic Cognates section on Omniglot.

Wow! Putting it together like this makes me realise that I haven’t been entirely idle.

Random Flowing Slumps

One of the random Swedish words I learnt recently that I rather like is slumpmässig, which means random, arbitary or haphazard, and isn’t just en slumpmässig radda bokstäver (a random jumble of letters).

Some other examples of how it’s used include:

  • Jag skall nämna några saker i slumpmässig ordningsföljd
    I would like to list a few issues in no particular order
  • Denna utveckling är inte slumpmässig
    This has not happened by chance

Related words include:

  • slump = accident, chance, coincidence, happenstance, hazard
  • slumpa = to randomize
  • slumpartad = casual, coincidental, fortuitous, serendipitous
  • slumpartat möte = chance encounter
  • slumpmässigt = random, haphazardly

Source: bab.la dictionary

The English word slump is possibly related to the Danish and Norwegian word slumpe (to happen on by chance), which comes from the Middle Low German slumpen, and may be onomatopoeic in origin [source].

Incidentally, the English word random comes from the Middle English randoun / raundon (force, magnitude, haste, intensity), from the Old French randon, from randir (to run, gallop), from the Frankish *rant / *rand (run), from the Proto-Germanic *randijō, from *rinnaną (to run), from the Proto-Indo-European *(H)r ̊-nw- (to flow, move, run) [source].

Which is all a bit random, is it not?

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

Tender fondness

A Swedish word I learnt this week is öm [œm], which sounds a bit like errm in English, or however you write it, and means gentle, tender, sore, sensitive or fond. I just like the sound of it, and it’s compactness.

Related words and expressions include:

  • öm punkt = a sore point or a raw nerve, as in Detta är en öm punkt för mig (That is a sore point for me).
  • ömhet = affection, gentleness, soreness or tenderness
  • ömhetsbetygelse = endearment, showing of endearment
  • ömka = to feel sorry for sb
  • ömkan = a pity party
  • ömkansvärd = pitiful
  • ömma = to ache
  • ömma för = to feel compassion for

Of course, öm should not be confused with om [ɔm], which means if, that, whether, about, for, on, by and a few other things. Accents are important.

Sources: bab.la and Wiktionary