Adventures in Etymology 28 – Neighbour

As I got to know some of my neighbours better this week I thought I’d look into the the origins of the word neighbour [ˈneɪbə] / neighbor [ˈneɪbɚ].

Hector, my neighbour's dog

Definition:

  • a person who lives near or next to another
  • a person or thing near or next to another
  • to be or live close (to a person or thing)

[source]

It comes from the Middle English neighebor [ˈnɛixəbur] (neighbour, citizen), from the Old English nēahġebūr [ˈnæ͜ɑːx.jeˌbuːr] (neighbour), from the Proto-Germanic *nēhwagabūrô [ˈnɛː.xʷɑ.ɣɑ.ˌbuː.rɔːː] (neighbour), from *nēhwaz [ˈnɛː.xʷɑz] (near, close) and *gabūrô (dweller) from *būraz (room, chamber, dwelling, residence) [source].

Other words derived for the Proto-Germanic *nēhwaz include near, next and nigh (near, close by), as in ‘the end is nigh’ in English, nah [naː] (near, close, nearby) in German, and na (close) in Dutch [source].

Other words derived for the Proto-Germanic *būraz include bower in English, buur(man/vrouw) [byr] (neighbour) in Dutch, boer [buːr] (farmer, peasant) in Dutch and Afrikaans, Bauer (birdcage) in some German dialects, and bur [bʉːr] (cage) in Swedish [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

German, Dutch and Swedish words pronounced by https://speakabo.com/text-to-speech/

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Adventures in Etymology 26 – Iron

Today we’re getting elemental and delving into the origins of the word iron [ˈaɪ.ən/ˈaɪ.ɚn].

iron fence

Definition:

  • an element which usually takes the form of a hard, dark-grey metal that can be used to make steel.
  • an electrical device with a flat metal base that heats up and is used to remove creases from clothes.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word iren [ˈiːrən] (iron), from the Old English īsern [ˈiː.sern] (iron), from the Proto-West-Germanic *īsarn (iron) from the Proto-Germanic **īsarną [ˈiː.sɑr.nɑ̃] (iron), from the Proto-Celtic *īsarnom (iron), probably from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēsh₂r̥no- (bloody, red), from *h₁ésh₂r̥ (flowing blood) [source].

Words for iron in Germanic and Celtic languages come from the same Proto-Celtic root, including ijzer [ˈɛi̯zər] in Dutch, Eisen [ˈʔaɪ̯zn̩] in German, haearn [ˈhai.arn] in Welsh and iarann [ˈiəɾˠən̪ˠ] in Irish [source].

Incidentally, the word irony is not related to iron at all. Instead it comes from the Middle French ironie (irony), from the Latin īrōnīa (irony), from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία [eː.rɔː.něː.a] (irony, pretext), from εἴρων (one who feigns ignorance) [source].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog and a recent post was about Iron Ferrets.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 46 – Surnames

The word surname, as in a family name, comes from the Late Latin supernōmen/suprānōmen (surname), from super- (over, above, beyond) and nōmen (name) [source].

The most common surnames in England are: Smith, Jones, Taylor, Brown, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, Davies, Robinson and Wright [source].

Types of surname:

  • Occupational; Smith, Taylor, Wright
  • Patronimics; Jones, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, Davies, Robinson
  • Based on appearance: Brown

Smith is the most common surname in the English-speaking world, as are equivalents in many other languages, including Schmidt in German, Ferraro / Ferrari in Italian, Herrero in Spanish, Kovač in Serbian, Croatian, Slovak and Slovenian, and Mac Gabhann (McGowan) in Irish. It comes from the Old English word smitan (to smite, strike).

A smith is someone who works with metal, and has been used as an occupational surname since Anglo-Saxon times. There are various kinds of smith, and their names are or were used as surnames, including Blacksmith (works mainly with iron); Brownsmith and Redsmith (work with copper); Goldsmith (works mainly with gold); Shoesmith (makes horseshoes); Sixsmith (makes scythes and sickles – a version of Scythesmith or Sicklesmith), and Whitesmith (works with tin) [source].

The surname Taylor came to Britian with the Normans, and was first used in 1182. It comes from the Old French word tailleur (cutter). It is also common in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA [source].

The surname Wright comes from the Old English word wryhta/wyrhta (worker, shaper of wood). It is also common in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. There are quite a few surname that include wright, such as: Arkwright (a maker of wooden chests), Boatwright (a maker of boats), Cartwright (a maker of carts), Plowright (a maker of ploughs), Wainwright (a maker of wagons) [source].

Other occupational surnames include: Faulkner / Falconer (falcon trainer), Fletcher (arrow maker), Hayward (hedge warden), Parker (keeper of the park) and Walker (a fuller of cloth) [source].

Jones is the most common surname is Wales, and is also common in England and the USA. It’s based on Welsh patronimics meaning “son of John”, such as Mab Ioan or ap Siôn. These were commonly used until the mid 16th century, when Welsh people started using surnames, and many Welsh names were Anglicised, as all official documents had to be in English. Davies and Williams have similar origins [source]. More on Welsh surnames.

The surname Brown was originally a nickname for someone with brown hair or clothing. It’s common in England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the USA. It was first used in England in 1066 in the form of Brun [source].

Other colour-based surnames include Black (dark-haired, or short for blacksmith), White (possibly referred to pale complexioned Vikings), Green (one who lives by the village green or is from a place called Green), Blue (someone with blue eyes / blue clothes), Red (red haired, ruddy complexion), Orange (associated with the Dutch House of Orange) and Pink (nickname for a bright, chirpy person) [source].

Other sourses
https://www.behindthename.com/name/geoffrey
https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Ager
https://www.familyeducation.com/baby-names/name-meaning/ager


If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Adventures in Etymology 23 – Hedge

Today we are looking at the word hedge [hɛdʒ].

Hedges

Definition:

  • a row of bushes or small trees planted close together, especially when forming a fence or boundary

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word hegge [hɛd͡ʒ] (hedge, bush, shrub), from the Old English heċġ [hed͡ʒ] (fence), from the Proto-West-Germanic *haggju (hedge), from the Proto-Germanic *hagjō [ˈxɑɣ.jɔ] (hedge), from the PIE *kagʰyóm (enclosure, hedge) [source].

The English words quay (as in a stone wharf) and haw (as in hawthorn, and an old word hedge) come from the same root, as does the Welsh word cae [kaːɨ̯/kai̯] (field, pitch), the Cornish word ke (hedge, fence), and the Breton word kae (hedge) [source].

Other words from the same root include the French haie [ɛ] (hedge, obstacle, hurdle, fence), which was borrowed from Frankish, and words for hedge in Germanic languages, including Hecke [ˈhɛkʰə] in German and heg [ɦɛx] in Dutch [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 45 – Japanese (日本語)

In this episode I talk about Japanese, giving an overview of the history of the language, its vocabulary and grammar, and how and why I learnt it.

日本語 (nihongo/nippongo) = Japanese

  • 日 (nichi, jitsu, hi, bi, ka) = day, sun, Japan, counter for days. E.g. 日曜日 (nichiyōbi – Sunday), 日々 (hibi / nichinichi – daily), 日陰 (hikage – shade, shadow, sunlight), 日外 (jitsugai – once, some time ago)
  • 本 (moto, hon) = origin, source, base, foundation, root, cause, ingredient, material; book, volume, script; counter for long cylindrical things. e.g. 本木 (motoki – original stock
  • 語 (go) = word, language, speech
  • 語る (kataru) = to talk about, speak of, tell, narate, recite, chant, indicate, show
  • 日本 (nihon/nippon) = Japan (“sun’s origin”) – nippon is used in official uses, such as on banknotes and stamps, while nihon is used in everyday speech.

Japan used to be called 倭 (wa) or 倭國 (wakoku) in Chinese – a name first used in the 3rd century AD. 倭 means “dwarf” or “submissive”. Later the Japanese changed the character 倭 to 和 (peaceful, harmonious) and combined it with 大 (big, great) to form 大和 (yamato) or “Great Wa”, which possibly originally referred to a place in Japan – 山戸 (yamato) or “Mountain Gate”.

絵文字 (emoji) = pictorial symbol, pictograph or pictogram. Also written 絵もじ or エモジ.

  • 絵 (e, kai) = picture, drawing, painting
  • 文 (fumi, aya, bun, mon) = sentence, text, letter
  • 字 (aze, azana, na, ji) = character, letter, written text

More information about Japanese
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Japan
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Japanese_terms_derived_from_Portuguese
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Japanese_terms_derived_from_Dutch
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_sound_symbolism
https://www.fluentu.com/blog/japanese/interesting-facts-about-japanese-language/

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

幻想的の曲 (gensō-teki no kyoku) – a sort-of Japanese-sounding improvisation played by me on the tenor and descant recorders.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Adventures in Etymology 13 – Connect

Today we are looking at the word connect [ˌkəˈnɛkt], a word that joins, links, unites, binds and fastens together.

knot

It comes from the Latin word connectere (to fasten together), from cōnectō (I connect, link, fasten together), from con- (together) and nectō (I bind), from the PIE *gned-/*gnod- (to bind).

Words from the same root include: knot, knit, node in English, knot [knɔt] (knot, (hair) bun, skein) in Dutch, Knoten [ˈknoːtən] (knot, interchange) in German, and knude [knuːðə] (knot, node) in Danish.

I chose this word because I think that learning languages is a way to make connections. Connections with other places and people and cultures and ideas.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Adventures in Etymology 8 – Mother

As today is Mother’s Day in many countries around the world, though not here in the UK, we are looking at the origins of the word mother.

Mother

Mother comes from the Middle English moder [ˈmoːdər/ˈmoːðər], from the Old English mōdor [ˈmoː.dor], from the Proto-Germanic *mōdēr [ˈmɔː.ðɛːr], from Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr [source].

Words for mother in most Indo-European languages come from the same root, including moeder [ˈmu.dər] in Dutch, Mutter [ˈmʊtɐ] in German, and móðir [ˈmouːðɪr] in Icelandic [source].

Some related words include matriarch, matron, maternal, matrimony, material, matriculate, matrix and matter, all of which come ultimately from the Latin māter (mother, matron, woman, nurse) via French [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

Adventures in Etymology 3 – Eggs

As it is Easter – Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it, or Happy Sunday to those who don’t – I thought I’d look into the origins of an important Easter-related word, no not Easter, but egg.

Eggs.

The word egg comes the Middle English egge, from Old Norse egg, from Proto-Germanic *ajją [ˈɑj.jɑ̃], from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ōwyóm (egg), probably from *h₂éwis (bird) [source].

Egg, with the same spelling, is also found in Icelandic, Faroese and Norwegian, and with different spelling in Swedish and Danish, pronounced slightly different in each language – egg [ˈɛkː] in Icelandic, egg [ɛkː] in Faroese, egg [ɛɡ] in Norwegian, ägg [ɛɡː] in Swedish, and in æg [ˈɛˀɡ̊] Danish. In Dutch and German, words for egg are like the original English word: Ei [aɪ̯] in German and ei [ɛi̯] in Dutch [source].

The originally English word for egg was ey [ei] from the Old English ǣġ [æːj], from the same Proto-Germanic root as egg. It was used until the 16th century, when it was replaced with egg, possibly because it got confused with the word eye, as in the thing you see with [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly​ – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 40 – Spanish (español)

In this episode I talk about the Spanish language, looking at its history, grammar, current status, and how I learnt it.

Links
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/spanish.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Spanish_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_grammar
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_phonology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language_in_the_Americas
https://www.ethnologue.com/language/spa
https://english.elpais.com/elpais/2017/11/29/inenglish/1511950198_079424.html

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 37 – The Hardest Languages

In this episode I discuss which languages are hardest to learn, and what makes some languages more difficult to learn than others. It’s not possible to provide a definitive list of the most challenging languages as it depends on a variety of factors. This hasn’t stopped people from doing this anyway. Here are some examples:

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/hardest-languages-to-learn/
https://www.languagedrops.com/blog/10-hardest-languages-to-learn
https://www.lingholic.com/hardest-languages-learn/
https://effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty/
https://bestlifeonline.com/most-difficult-languages/

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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