Adventures in Etymology 21 – Circle

Today we are looking at the word circle [ˈsɜː.kəɫ / ˈsɝ.kəɫ].

Circles made with fire poi on Brighton beach

Definition:

  • A shape consisting of a curved line completely surrounding an area, every part of which is the same distance from the centre of the area.

[source]

It comes from the Middle English word circle, cercle, from the Old French cercle [ˈtser.klə] (circle), from the Latin circulus [ˈkɪɾkʊɫ̪ʊs̠] (circle, orbit, ring, hoop, necklace, chain, company, group), a diminutive of circus [ˈkɪɾkʊs̠] (orbit, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the Ancient Greek κίρκος [kír.kos] (type of hawk, or falcon, type of wolf, circle, ring, racecourse, circus), from the PIE *(s)ker- (to bend, turn) [source].

Some English words from the same root include: ring, rink, cross, crown, corona, curb, curtain, curve, crisp and crest [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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Omniglot News (01/08/21)

This week’s new languages are: Juang, Ye’kuana and Sandawe.

  • Juang (ଜୁଆଙ୍) – a Munda language spoken in Odisha state in eastern India.
  • Ye’kuana – a Cariban language spoken mainly in southern Venzuela, and also in northwest Brazil
  • Sandawe (Sàndàwé kì’ìng) – a language isolate spoken in the Dodoma Region of central Tanzania.

There’s a new constructed script Thai-ResPriv, an alternative way to write Thai devised by Jay and Pailin Strong.

This week’s Omniglot blog posts were about The Pull of Pandas, and the usual language quiz.

The mystery language in last week’s language quiz was Chulym (ӧс тили), a Siberian Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Khakassia in the south of the Russian Federation.

This week’s Celtiadur post was about kitchens and related words.

This week’s Adventure in Etymology looks at the origins of the word distract.

I finally made a new episode of the Radio Omniglot podcast this week about Japanese, and while I was doing that I got a bit distracted and made improvements to the Japanese language page on Omniglot.

For more Omniglot News see:
https://www.omniglot.com/news/
https://twitter.com/Omniglossia
https://www.facebook.com/groups/omniglot/
https://www.facebook.com/Omniglot-100430558332117

Adventures in Etymology 19 – Masks

Today we are looking at the word mask [mɑːsk/mæsk].

Me in a mask

Definition:

  • a covering for all or part of the face that protects, hides, or decorates the person wearing it
  • appearance or behaviour that hides the truth [source]

It comes from the Middle French word masque (a covering to hide or protect the face), from the Italian maschera [ˈmas.ke.ra] (mask, disguise), from the Medieval Latin masca (witch, hag, spectre, nightmare, mask), from the Proto-West Germanic *maskā (mesh), from the Proto-Germanic *maskwǭ (loop, knot, mesh, netting, mesh used as a filter, facemask). The English words mesh and mascara come from the same root [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.

Omniglot News (18/07/21)

This week a new writing system appeared on Omniglot: Badlit, which is also known as the Bisaya or Visayan Script, Sulat Bisaya, Suwat Bisaya or Baybayin Bisaya. It looks at lot like the Baybayin script for Tagalog, and is used to write languages spoken in the Visayas region of the Philippines, such as Cebuano and Hiligaynon.

This week’s new languages are: Doteli, Kinabalian and Yawuru.

  • Doteli/Dotyali (डोटेली) – an Eastern Pahari language spoken in Sudurpashchim province in western Nepal.
  • Kinabalian – a Visayan language spoken in Leyte province in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philipines.
  • Yawuru – an Eastern Nyulnyulan language spoken in and around Broome in the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia.

There is a new collection of silly phrases in Welsh, most of which involve Owen and his parships. Most of them come from the Welsh course on Duolingo and were sent to me by a friend who is studying Welsh. This inspired this week’s Adventure in Etymology, which is about parsnips. Another podcast that looks at the origins of words, and other things, is English with Stephen.

There are new numbers pages in Mòcheno and Coptic.

This week’s Omniglot blog posts were about subjects, fonts and the usual language quiz.

The mystery language in last week’s language quiz was Rukai, a Formosan language spoken in parts of southern Taiwan. The recording was from YouTube.

This week’s Celtiadur post is about words in Celtic languages for stones, rocks and related words.

I also made improvements to the Eastern Pomo language page and the Alsatian phrases page.

For more Omniglot News see:
https://www.omniglot.com/news/
https://twitter.com/Omniglossia
https://www.facebook.com/groups/omniglot/
https://www.facebook.com/Omniglot-100430558332117

Adventures in Etymology 18 – Parnips

Today we are looking at the word parsnip [ˈpɑː.snɪp/ˈpɑɹ.snɪp].

Parsnips

Definition:

  • A plant (Pastinaca sativa) in the parsley family, native to Eurasia, cultivated for its long, white, edible, fleshy root.
  • The root of this plant.

It comes from the Middle English word passenep a version of the Old French word pasnaie, with influence from the Middle English word nepe [neːp] (turnip), from the Latin pastināca [pas.tiˈnaː.ka] (parsnip, carrot, stringray) from pastinum [ˈpas.ti.num] (two-pronged fork/dibble), which is of unknown orgin [source].

Words for parsnip are similiar in quite a few other languages, including pastinaca in Italian, pastinaak in Dutch and panais in French.

One exception is Spanish, in which parsnip is chirivía [t͡ʃi.ɾiˈβ̞i.a], from alcaravea [al.ka.ɾaˈβ̞e.a] (caraway), from the Arabic كَرَاوِيَا‎ (karāwiyā, caraway) [source].

This adventure was inspired by a friend who sent me a collection of ‘useful’ phrases from the Welsh course on Duolingo concerning Owen and his parsnips.

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.

Adventures in Etymology 17 – Balance

Today we are endeavouring to maintain a state of equilibrium by looking at the word balance [ˈbæləns].

The scales of justice

Definition:
– a state in which opposing forces harmonise; equilibrium.
– something of equal weight used to provide equilibrium; counterweight
– awareness of both viewpoints or matters; neutrality; rationality; objectivity.

It comes from the Middle English word balaunce [baˈlantsə] (a set of scales), from the Middle French balance (scales), from the Latin Latin *bilancia from the Latin *bilanx [ˈbɪɫ̪äŋks̠] ((of a balance) having two scales) from bi- (twice) and lanx [ɫ̪äŋks̠] (dish, plate, scalepan) [source].

In Latin the word for a pair of scales or balance was libra, which was also a unit of measure equal to twelve ounces or a pound (lb). This is the root of words for weight and currency in various languages, including livre (pound) in French, lira in Italian, and libra (pound) in Portuguese and Spanish [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.

Adventures in Etymology 16 – Book

Today we are looking at the word book [bʊk].

Library

Definition
– a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers
– a work of fiction or nonfiction in an electronic format [source]

It comes from the Middle English word booke [boːk] (book), from the Old English bōc [boːk] (book, writing. document), from the Proto-Germanic *bōks [bɔːks] (letter, written message, inscriptions carved into a flat object pressed together) [source].

In Middle English another word for book was livret, from the Old French livret (book, booklet) from livre (book), from the Latin liber (book, the inner bark of a tree, paper, parchment), from the PIE *lewbʰ- (to peel, cut off, harm).

English words from the same root include leaf, lobby, lodge, libel, library, which in Middle and Old English was bōchūs [ˈboːkˌhuːs] or “bookhouse” [source] or bōchord (“bookhoard”) [source]. Incidentally, there’s a post on the Omniglot blog about words for library in various languages.

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.

Adventures in Etymology 15 – Sky

Today we are looking at the word sky [skaɪ].

Clouds

Definition:
– the region of the clouds or the upper air; the upper atmosphere of the earth
– the heavens or firmament, appearing as a great arch or vault
– the supernal or celestial heaven

It comes from the Middle English word sky [skiː] (sky, cloud, mist), from the Old Norse ský [ˈskyː] (cloud), from the Proto-Germanic *skiwją [ˈskiw.jɑ̃] (cloud, sky), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)kewH- (to cover, hide, cloud) [source].

In Old English the word for sky (and heaven) was heofon [ˈhe͜o.von], from the Proto-West Germanic *hebn (sky, heaven), which became heaven in modern English [source].

Related words in other languages include sky [ˈskyˀ] (cloud) in Danish, sky [ʂyː] (cloud) in Norwegian, sky [ɧyː] (sky, cloud) in Swedish, ský [sciː] (cloud) in Icelandic,and skýggj [skʊt͡ʃː] (cloud) in Faroese. A more common word for sky in Swedish is himmel, and cloud is moln [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. There are more details about words for sky in the post When is the sky not the sky?.

Episode 44 – Emoticons

In this episode I talk about emoticons or “pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation or other keyboard characters”. Emoticon is short for “emotion icon” and first appeared in 1994 [source].

Earlier sightings of possible emoticons in the wild include a possibly smiley face in 1648 in To Fortune, a poem by Robert Herrick, an English poet, that appears in The Hesperides & Noble Numbers, a collection of his poems. This appears in only one of the online editions of his work though:

Tumble me down, and I will sit / Upon my ruins, (smiling yet:)

In a transcription of a speech by Abraham Lincoln published in The New York Times on 7th August 1862, a possible wink emoticon appears: (applause and laughter ;), although it is debated whether this was an emoticon or just punctuation.

In 1881 the satirical magazine Puck published examples of typographical art using puncutation marks to express joy, melancholy, indifference or astonishment.

Examples of early emoticons by Scott Fahlman

In 1912 Ambrose Bierce, an American writer and journalist, suggested uses a bracket ‿ to represent a smile, and called it the snigger point or note of cachination [kakɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n] (loud, convulsive laughter).

Other writers proposed ways to use punctuation marks to represent faces, including Alan Gregg, who wrote in a 1936 article in the Harvard Lampoon that (-) could represent a smile, (—) a laughing smile, (#) a frown and (*) a wink.

First smiley emoticons created by Scott Fahlman, Professor Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute and Computer Science Department, in 19th September 1982:

Examples of early emoticons by Scott Fahlman

In Japan, for example, a type of emoticon known as kaomoji (顔文字) or ‘face characters’ developed in the 1980s combining punctuation marks and Japanese katakana glyphs to make horizontal faces, such ass (*_*), (^.^), {^_^} (T_T) & (^ム^).

In Korean combinations of hangeul letters (jamo) and punctuation marks are used: ㅇㅅㅇ, ㅇㅂㅇ, ㅇㅁㅇ, ^오^.

More information about punctuation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon
http://scihi.org/scott-fahlman-emoticons/

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Whirlwind / Y Troellwynt

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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Adventures in Etymology 14 – Exclamation!

Today we are looking at the word exclamation [ˌɛk skləˈmeɪ ʃən], a interjectory word that cries out and calls loudly, that expresses outcry or emphasis.

Exclamation marks in various alphabets

It comes from the Middle French word exclamation (exclamation), from the Latin exclāmātiō (exclamation), from ex- (out) and clāmāre, from clāmō (I cry out, clamor, shout, yell, exclaim), from the Proto-Italic *klāmāō, from the Proto-Indo-European *kelh₁- (to call, cry, summon) [source].

Some English words from the same root include: acclaim, claim, clamour, council, declaim, proclaim and reclaim [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

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