Celtic Pathways – Iron

In this episode we are digging up the origins of the word iron.

iron fence

The Proto-Celtic word for iron is *īsarnom. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēsh₂r̥no- (bloody, red), from *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) [source].

Descendants in the Celtic languages include:

  • iarann [ˈiəɾˠən̪ˠ] = iron in Irish
  • iarann [iər̪ˠən̪ˠ] = iron, (metal) blade, day’s worth cutting peat (for two) in Scottish Gaelic
  • yiarn = iron; tool, scythe, blade; dough (money); tip (gratuity) in Manx
  • haearn = iron, iron bar, hardness, strength, resoluteness, hard, strong, unyielding in Welsh
  • horn = iron in Cornish
  • houarn [ˈhuː.arn] = iron, flat iron; horseshoe in Breton

Words for iron in Germanic languages come from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Proto-Germanic *īsarną (iron). They include iron in English, ijzer in Dutch, Eisen in German, järn in Swedish, and jern in Danish [source].

Words from the same PIE roots, include արյուն (aryun – blood, slaughter) in Armenian, asinis (blood, temperament, origin) in Latvian [source], words for blood in Romance languages [source], and words for sister in most European languages [source].

More details about these words on Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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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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Episode 8 – Polyglottery

This epsiode is about polyglottery and was partly recorded at the 2018 Polyglot Conference in Ljubljana in Slovenia.

I talk about what is a polyglot, how many languages you have to speak to call yourself a polyglot, and discuss what polyglots get up to, including the Polyglot Conference and other polyglot events, such as the Polyglot Gathering and LangFest. There are also some sound bites from participants in the conference in a variety of languages.

Definitions of polyglot:

Definitions of polyglottery:

Other takes on polyglottery

Websites of some of the people who took part in the episode

If you took part in this podcast and have a website, blog, YouTube channel, etc that you’d like to see included here, let me know in the comments.

Videos from Polylgot events

More videos from the Polyglot Conference

More videos from the Polyglot Gathering

My photos and videos from polyglot events

Polyglottery

Tunes featured in this episode