Adventures in Etymology – Salt

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word salt.

Sea Salt

Salt [sɒlt / sɔlt / sɑlt] is:

  • a white powder or colourless crystalline solid, consisting mainly of sodium chloride and used for seasoning and preserving food

It comes from the Middle English salt(e) / se(a)lt [salt/sɛlt] (salt), from the Old English sealta [sæ͜ɑɫt] (salt, salty, salted), from the Proto-West-Germaic *salt (salty), from the Proto-Germanic *saltaz [ˈsɑl.tɑz] (salty), from *saltaną [ˈsɑl.tɑ.nɑ̃] (to salt, pickle) from the PIE *seh₂l- (salt) [source].

In most modern Indo-European languages, words for salt begin with an s and contain an l, including sel in French, sal in Catalan, Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and Spanish, sollan in Manx, and sól [sul] in Polish. [source].

Exceptions include sare [ˈsa.re] in Romanian, zout [zɑu̯t] in Dutch, αλάτι [aˈlati] in Greek, աղ [ɑʁ] in Armenian, halen in Welsh, and holen in Cornish and Breton [source].

The word salary, comes from the same PIE root, via Middle English salarie, Old French salaire and the Latin salārium (salary), from salārius (related to salt), from sal (salt). It is thought that salārium was an abbreviation of salārium argentum (salt money), as Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. However, there is no evidence for this [source].

Other English words from the same PIE root include salad, salami, saline, salsa, sauce, sausage, silt and halogen [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, 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 – Champion

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word champion.

S Champion

A champion [ˈtʃæmpiən] is:

  • An ongoing winner in a game or contest.
  • Someone who is chosen to represent a group of people in a contest.
  • Someone who fights for a cause or status.
  • Someone who fights on another’s behalf.

It comes from Middle English champioun [tʃampiˈuːn] (martial artist, soldier, guardian, promoter, winner), from Old French champion [ʃɑ̃.pjɔ̃] (champion), from Late Latin campiō(nem) (champion, fighter), from Frankish *kampijō (fighter), from Latin campus (flat level ground, plain, field), from Proto-West Germanic *kampijan (to battle, campaign), from *kamp (battle(field)) from PIE *kh₂emp- (to bend, curve) [source].

English words from the same Latin root include campus, camp, campaign and champagne [source].

The word cam/kamm (crooked, bent, false), which found in all the modern Celtic languages, comes from the same PIE root via Proto-Celtic *kambos (twisted, crooked, bent) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include the obsolete English words kam (crooked, awry), from Welsh, and camous (flat/crooked (nose), depressed) via Middle English, French, Latin and Gaulish [source].

The French name Camus probably comes from the same Celtic root, as do the Scottish names Campbell (“crooked mouth”) and Cameron (“crooked nose”) via Scottish Gaelic [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 words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, 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 – Budgets

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we look into the origins of the word budget and find out how it’s connected to words for bags and bellies and bulges.

Budget

A budget [ˈbʌdʒ.ɪt] is:

  • The amount of money or resources earmarked for a particular institution, activity or timeframe.
  • An itemized summary of intended expenditure; usually coupled with expected revenue.
  • A wallet, purse or bag. (obsolete)

It comes from the Middle English bouget/bo(w)gett(e) (leather pouch), from the Old French bougette [bu.ʒɛt] (purse for carrying coins) a diminutive of bouge (sack, purse, small bag), from the Latin bulga [ˈbul.ɡa] (knapsack, wallet, satchel, purse, womb), from the Gaulish bolgā (sack, bag, stomach), from the Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach), from the PIE *bʰólǵʰ-o-s (skin bag, bolster), from *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell) [source].

Some words from the same Proto-Celtic root include bolg [ˈbˠɔlˠəɡ] (belly, stomach, bag, bulge, bellows) in Irish, bol [bɔl] (belly, stomach, bowels, womb) in Welsh, and bolgh (breach, gap, opening) in Cornish [source]. See also Celtiadur.

Words from the same Latin root (bulga) include bouge [buʒ] (hovel, dive, bulge, protuberance) in French, bolgia (pit, bedlam, chaos) in Italian, and the English words bulge and budge [source].

The name Belgium comes ultimately from the PIE root *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell), via the Latin Belgae (an Iron-Age tribe that lived between the Seine and Rhine rivers), and the Proto-Celtic *belg-/*bolg- (to swell (with anger)) [source].

I also write about words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

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, Amazon Music, 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.

Blubrry podcast hosting

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.

Blubrry podcast hosting

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.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 35 – Adventures in Etymology

In this episode I take you on an adventure in etymology, the study of where words come from, and how they have changed over time. I start with the word etymology, and see where I end up.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Push ad Pull / Gwthio a Thynnu

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.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 21 – Benefits of learning small languages

In this episode I talk about some of the benefits and advantages of learning minority and lesser-studied languages, focusing particularly on the Irish and other Celtic languages. I talk about my own experiences with these languages, and the benefits they have brought me.

Gleann Cholm Cille
Gleann Cholm Cille

There’s no point in learning small languages, is there? They’re spoken by relatively few people and maybe only in one country or region. So why bother? It would be better to learn a language that has many millions of speakers and that is spoken in many countries, like Spanish or French, wouldn’t it? Perhaps, but whatever language you learn can bring benefits and opportunities, even small, lesser-studied and minority languages.

Scoil Shamraidh 2017

Tunes featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

The Elephant Song / Cân yr Eliffant

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

Episode 20 – Language Families

In this episode I talk about language families – what they are, and how they develop, and I introduce some major and minor language families.

According to Wikipedia, a language family is “a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family”.

According to Ethnologue there are currently 142 different language families and 7,111 living languages. The ten largest languages families account for about 88% of the world’s population, and 74% of the world’s languages.

[table id=1 /]

Here’s an illustration a the family tree of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages:

Elvish language family

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvish_languages_(Middle-earth)

More information about language families
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/langfam.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_family
https://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/family
https://www.mustgo.com/worldlanguages/language-families/

The tune featured in this episode

Dancing Donkeys / Asynnod sy’n Dawnsio

See the score for this tune

Costa Pacifica

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

Episode 18 – Adventures in Polyglotland

In this episode I bring you news from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering, an annual get-together of polyglots and language lovers from all over the world. This year the Polyglot Gathering took place in Bratislava, Slovakia for the third time – it started in 2015 in Berlin, and was there for three years, then moved to Bratislava. The next Gathering will be in Teresin, near Warsaw in Poland from 26-30 May 2020.

I was planning to interview people at the Gathering, and to keep an audio diary, but was enjoying myself too much and decided to give you a flavour of the event after I got home. So this is the story of my Adventures in Polyglotland.

My badge from the Polyglot Gathering showing the languages I speak fluently, or at least fairly well:

My badge from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering

N = native language, C = advanced level, B = intermediate level, A = basic / elementary level, en = English, cy = Cymraeg (Welsh), zh = 中文 [zhōngwén] – (Mandarin Chinese), ga = Gaeilge (Irish), es = español (Spanish), de = Deutsch (German), eo = Esperanto, gd = Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic), ja = Japanese, gv = Gaelg Vanninagh (Manx Gaelic), ru = Русский [Russkij] (Russian), cs = český (Czech), sv = Svenska (Swedish), da = Dansk (Danish).

Information about polyglot events: http://www.omniglot.com/events/

Music featured in this episode

Bear With Me / Aros am yr Arth

See the score for this tune

Echoes on the Tongue / Atseiniau ar y Tafod

See the score for this tune

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

Episode 13 – The Story of Omniglot

Omniglot logo

When people ask me what I do, I usually tell them that I write and talk about languages for a living, mainly on my website. This leads to more questions about what exactly my website is about, how I make money from it, and what I spend my days doing.

In this episode I try to answer these questions, and explain how Omniglot came to be, what my work involves, and how it generates revenue. I also suggest some ways you could turn your interests into online business.

Read more about the history of Omniglot.

The tunes featured in the episode are:

Goosing Around / Gwyddio o Gwmpas

Spring at Last / Gwanwyn o’r Diwedd

The recording I use in the podcast was generated by MuseScore (See a PDF of the score). The recording below features me on all the instruments.

Blue Skies / Awyr Las

In Episode 12 I slipped in a couple of made-up facts and challenged you to spot them. They were:

  1. There is a version of Cornish called Kernewek Gwir (True/Real Cornish) that is a continuation of traditional Cornish.
  2. There are a few parrots and other birds who can speak a bit of Cornish.

Although I made these up, there are people who believe that Cornish never ceased to be spoken, and it’s possible that someone has trained their parrot to speak some Cornish.

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation, or by contributing in other ways.