Here’s a recording in a mystery language.
Do you know or can you guess the language?
In this post we find out what links the word grotesque with caves and hiding.
Grotesque [ɡɹəʊˈtɛsk / ɡɹoʊˈtɛsk] as an adjective means:
As an noun it means:
It comes from Middle French grotesque (farcical, ridiculous; small cave, ornament), from Italian grottesco (grotesque) from grotta (cave, grotto) and -esco (relational suffix) [source]. Grotta comes from Vulgar Latin *grupta/*crupta, from Latin crypta (underground passage, tunnel, crypt, vault), from Ancient Greek κρυπτή (kruptḗ – crypt, vault) from κρύπτω (krúptō -hide), the origins of which are unknown [source].
Words from the same roots include grotto and crypt in English, grot (cave, cavern) in Dutch, and grotte (cave) in French [source].
The words grotty and gro(a)dy and clippings of grotesque: grotty is used in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and means unpleasant, dirty, slovenly, offensive [source], shoddy, rundown, disgusting, gross, bad [source], while gro(a)dy is used in the USA and means nasty, dirty, disgusting, foul, revolting, yucky or grotesque [source].
Grody is shortened even further into gro (disgusting, unpleasant; gross), although that might come from gross [source].
What links the word gossamer with geese and summer?
It comes from the Middle English gossomer (a filmy substance consisting of fine cobwebs, gossamer; a web or filament of gossamer; something light, trivial, or worthless; a trivial wound), which is thought to come from go(o)s (goose, fool, idiot) and somer (summer). It first appeared in writing in about 1300, when it referred to cobwebs or other light things. Before that it may have referred to a period of warm weather in late autumn when geese were eaten, and later became associated with cobwebs as they are somewhat similar to goose down [source].
Related words include:
A period of warm weather in late autumn is also known as an Indian summer, a term which was first used in North America in the late 18th century. It’s possible that Native Americans called it a form a summer as they harvested some late crops and were preparing for winter during this season, or that it was coined by Europeans and associated with the Native Americans’ activities [source].
Other names for this period include St. Luke’s summer, little summer of St. Luke, all-hallown summer, St. Martin’s summer and Michaelmas summer.
Do you know any other names for this period in English or other languages?
One of the Finnish words that I learnt recently and really like is hymy [ˈhymy] which means smile. Apparently it is imitative of the short humming sound associated with smiling. In fact, it’s difficult to say without smiling [source].
Related words include:
Is hymähtää a particularly Finnish way of smiling?
Are there any other languages in which the words smile and hum are connected?
Incidentally, the English word smile comes from Middle English smilen (to smile), from Old Norse *smíla (to smile), from Proto-Germanic *smīlijaną (to smile), from Proto-Indo-European *smey- (to laugh, be glad, wonder) [source].
In Old English a word for to smile was smearcian, which comes from Proto-Germanic *smarōną (to mock, scoff at, deride), which possibly comes from *smīlijaną (to smile), from Proto-Indo-European *smey- (to laugh, etc) [source].
English words from the same root include smirk, smear, admire, marvel, miracle, and the name Miranda [source].
What links the word bazooka with Roman trumpets and singing cows? Let’s find out in this blog post.
A bazooka was originally a primitive type of trombone with wide tubes. During World War II it came to refer to a shoulder-held rocket launcher used as an antitank weapon that was developed at the time, and which resembled the musical instrument. Bazooka has other meanings that we won’t go into here.
Bazooka comes from bazoo, an old word for a wind instrument (used in the USA and Canada) and a slang word for mouth (in the USA). That probably comes from the Dutch word bazuin [baːˈzœy̯n] (a medieval trumpet), from the Middle Dutch basune/basine (a kind of trumpet), from the Old French buisine (a type of trumpet used in battle), from the Latin būcina (bugle, curved war trumpet), from bōs/bovi- (cow, bull, steer, ox) and canō (I sing, recite, play, sound, blow [a trumpet]) [source].
The būcina was used in the Roman army to announce night watches, to give orders and to summon soldiers. Someone who played it was known as a buccinātor or būcinātor [source].
Words from the same roots include buccina (a curved brass instrument used by the Ancient Roman army), buisine (a medieval wind instrument with a very long, straight and slender body, usually made of metal) and posaune (an old word for a trombone) in English, Posaune (trombone) in German, buse (nozzle, pipe, conduit) in French, buzina (hunting horn, car horn, spokesperson) in Portuguese, and bocina (horn, loudspeaker, conch shell) in Spanish [source].
Incidentally, the word kazoo is possibly based on bazoo, or is of onomatopoeic origin [source]. While similar instruments using a membrane, such as the eunuch/onion flute, have existed since at least the 16th century, the kazoo was patented in 1883 by Warren Herbert Frost, an American inventor [source].
A Finnish word I learnt recently is asua [ˈɑsuɑ], which means to live, reside or dwell. I could say, for example, Asun Bangorissa Walesissa (I live in Bangor in Wales).
It comes from the Proto-Finnic *asudak, from the Proto-Uralic *ëśew- (to camp, remain), from *ëśe- (to exist, be located) [source].
Related words in Finnish include:
So you could say, Asukas asuu asumattomassa asunnossa (The resident lives in an uninhabited flat/apartment), but that wouldn’t make much sense.
I actually learnt the word asunto first, and when I came across asua, I guessed it meant to live or something simliar. Although Finnish vocabulary is mostly unlike any other language I know, you can find plenty of internal connections like this.
Incidentally, house in Finnish is talo [ˈtɑlo], which comes from the Proto-Finnic *taloi (farm, house). It is cognate with the Estonian talu (farm) and the Northern Sami dállu (house, farm) [source].
The word asunto [aˈsunto] also exists in Spanish and Galician. In Spanish it means matter, issue, (romantic) affair, or business, [source] while in Galician it means matter, issue or business [source].
It comes from the Latin assūmptus (received, adopted, accepted), from assūmō (I take up, receive, adopt or accept), from ad- (to) and sūmō (I take, catch, assume) [source].
Words from the same roots include assume in English, assumer (to embrace, accept, own) in French, assumere (to take on, employ, consume) in Italian, asumir (to assume, take on) in Spanish [source].