Today is the second full day of the #PolyglotGathering. It’s been a lot of fun, with some very interesting talks, and I’ve met a lot of people I know from previous polyglot events, and many new people too.
So far I’ve had conversations in English, French, German, Spanish, Welsh, Irish, Mandarin, Swedish, Russian and Esperanto, and have spoken odd bits of Manx, Danish, Icelandic, Czech, Italian, Portuguese and Slovak. I’ve learnt about Warlpiri, Bengali and Ukrainian, and have sung songs in Spanish, Italian, Serbian and Maori.
This morning I’ll be giving my presentation on Deconstructing Language. My original plan was to talk mainly about how grammar works and how it develops, but What I’ll actually talk about is where words come from and how and why they change over time.
Yesterday I learnt the Russian word for beef, говядина [ɡɐˈvʲædʲɪnə], and the promotely forgot it. So I thought I’d investigate its etymology to help me remember it.
говядина comes from говядо [ɡɐˈvʲadə] and old word for cattle. This comes from the Proto-Slavic *govędo (head of cattle, bull, ox), from the Proto-Indo-European *gʷew-n̥d-, from *gʷṓws (cattle) [source].
The usual Russian word for cow is корова [source], which comes from the Proto-Slavic *kőrva (cow), from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱerh₂- (horn) [source].
*gʷṓws is also the root of:
- gak = boar (Albanian)
- govs = cattle, cow (Latvian)
- говядо = beef (Ukrainian)
- говедо = cattle (Bulgarian, Macedonian & Serbian)
- govedo = cattle (Croatian & Slovenian)
- hovado = brute (Czech & Slovak)
- gowjedo = cow (Lower Sorbian)
- *kūz = cow (Proto-Germanic)
- Kuh = cow (German)
- koe = cow (Dutch)
- ku = cow (Norwegian)
- ko = cow (Swedish, Danish, North Frisian)
- coo, kye = cow (Scots)
- βοῦς = cow (Ancient Greek)
- bōs = cow, bull, ox (Latin)
- bou = ox (Catalan)
- bue = ox, beef (Italian)
- bife = steak (Portuguese)
- bou= ox, idiot (Romanian)
- buey= ox. steer (Spanish)
- bœuf = cow, ox, beef, jam session (French)
- *bāus = cow (Proto-Celtic)
- *bōws = ox (Proto-Celtic)
- bu, buw = cow, bullock, head of cattle (Middle Welsh)
- buwch = cow (Welsh)
- bugh = cow (Cornish)
- bu, buoc’h = cow (Breton)
- bó = cow (Irish)
- booa = cow (Manx)
- bò = cow (Scottish Gaelic)
The English words beef and bovine come ultimately from the same root. Beef comes from the Middle English beef, bef, beof, from the Anglo-Norman beof, from the Old French buef, boef (ox). from Latin bōs (“ox”)
The Proto-Indo-European word *gʷowkólos, from *gʷṓws (cow) & *kʷel- (to revolve, move around, sojourn) gives us the following words in the Celtic languages [Source].
- *boukolyos = herdsman (Proto-Celtic)
- *bʉgöl = herdsman (Proto-Brythonic
- bugail = shepherd, pastor (Welsh)
- bugel = child, shepherd (Cornish)
- bugel = child (Breton)
- búachaill = cowherd (Old Irish)
- buachaill = boy, herdsman, servant, boyfriend (Irish)
- bochilley = shepherd, herdsman (Manx)
- buachaill, buachaille = cowherd, herdsman, shepherd, youth (Scottish Gaelic)
I’ve received several emails from people telling me that the capital of Ukraine, Київ, should be written Kyiv in English, and not Kiev. So I thought I’d look into the history of the name.
Kiev, or Kyiv, is named after one of its legendary founders, Кий (Kyi). It was originally written Къıєвъ in Cyrillic. This was transliterated as Kyjev in the Latin alphabet.
On early maps of the region, Kiev was variously written Kiou, Kiow, Kiew, Kiovia or Kiiow. The name Kiev, based on the Russian pronounciation, started to be used while Kiev was part of the Russian Empire (from 1708), and was first used in print in English in 1804. It has also been written Kyyiv and Kyjiv.
According to the Ukrainian government’s rules for the transliteration of geographic names into English, Київ is translierated as Kyiv. This spelling has been used in all official English language documents in Ukraine since 1995, and has been adopted by the UN and other international organisations.
How is this name written in other languages?