Adventures in Etymology – Runes (ᚱᚢᚾᛟ)

Today we’re delving into the secret and mysterious origins of the word rune.

Runic stone - National Museum, Copenhagen

Rune [ɹuːn] means:

  • any of the characters of certain ancient alphabets of Germanic languages, esp. of Scandinavia and Britain, from about the 3rd to 13th centuries.
  • something written or inscribed in such characters.
  • something secret or mysterious.

It comes from Old Norse rún (secret, rune), from Proto-Norse ᚱᚢᚾᛟ [ˈruː.noː] (runo – secret, mystery, rune, inscription, message), from Proto-Germanic *rūnō [ˈruː.nɔː] (secret, mystery, rune), possibly from Proto-Celtic *rūnā (secret, mystery) [source].

Words for runes in Germanic languages come from the same Proto-Germanic root, including rune [ˈrynə] in Dutch, rune [rʉːnə] Norwegian, and runa in Swedish [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include rún (mystery, secret, intention, purpose, love, affection) in Irish, and rhin (secret, mystery, enchantment, virute, occult) in Welsh [source].

In Irish a rún is used as a term of affection meaning “my dear/darling”. It appears in the traditional song Siúil a Rún:

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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Episode 50 – Solstice

As I recorded this episode 21st December, I decided to look at the meanings and origins of some seasonal words.

Solstice [ˈsɒl.stɪs/ˈsɑl.stɪs] – from Old French solstice (solstice), from the Latin sōlstitium ((summer) solstice), from sōl (sun) and sistō (to stand still) [source].

Winter solstice

Sāturnālia [ˈsɒl.stɪs/ˈsɑl.stɪs] – an ancient Roman holiday honouring Saturn, the Roman of fertility and agriculture. It began on 17th December and was originally a one-day celebration. That was extended to three days during the 2nd century BC, and later extended to seven days [source].

During this time work stopped, and businesses, schools and courts were closed. Slaves were given time off and were served by their masters. People wore colourful clothes, decorated their houses with green branches and other things, gave each other gifts, and spent time with their families and friends eating, drinking, singing, making music, gambling and generally having a good time [source].

In Germanic-speaking cultures Yule originally lasted for whole of December and January. After the arrival of Christianity, the 12 days of Christmas became the main focus of the celebrations. The word yule comes from the Middle English yol (Yuletide, Christmas), from the Old English ġēol/ġeōl (Yuletide, Christmas midwinter) [source].

December is the 12th month of the year, but in the Roman calendar it was the tenth month, and the word December comes from the Latin decem (10) [source].

In Irish December is Mí na Nollag, or literally “the month of Christmas” [source]. In Scottish Gaelic it is an Dùbhlachd, which means “the darkening” [source]. In Welsh December is Rhagfyr, which means the “foreshortening”, referring to the short days [source].

Theme tune

Friday Afternoon / Prynhawn Dydd Gwener

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.

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Episode 49 – Linguistic Correctness

In this episode I talk about linguistic correctness. That is, the idea that there are correct ways to speak and write languages that conform to grammatical standards and conventions (“rules”), and that anything else is wrong.

There are three kinds of grammatical rules or conventions:

  1. Rules that everybody follows. For example in English, articles and adjectives precede nouns – you say the word and not word the, and a long word, not a word long.
  2. Rules that distinguish the standard varieties of a language from other varieties. For example, in standard English you might say ‘I don’t have any money’, while in some varieties you might say ‘I ain’t got no money’.
  3. Rules that are written in grammar books and which many people believe you should follow. For example, in English infinitives should never be split, sentences should never end with a prepostion, and you should never use a double negative. Many of these were just pet peeves and preferences of 18th century writers.

Then there are spelling and punctuation conventions, such as the use of commas, semi-colons and apostrophes.

I discussed what grammar is and where it comes from in Episode 16 and talk about the origins of some linguistic pet peeves in Episode 16

Further reading
What Is ‘Correct’ Language?
The Notion of Correctness
Definition and Examples of Correctness in Language

Theme tune

Friday Afternoon / Prynhawn Dydd Gwener

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 – Ladder

In today’s Adventure in Etymology we’re looking at the origins of the word ladder.

ladders.jpg

A ladder [ˈladə/ˈlædɚ] is:

  • a frame, usually portable, of wood, metal, or rope, used for ascent and descent, consisting of two side pieces to which are fastened rungs
  • a series of stages by which one progresses to a better position

It comes from the Middle English ladder/laddre [ˈladər], from the Old English hlǣder [ˈxlæː.der] (ladder), from the Proto-Germanic *hlaidrijō [ˈxlɑi̯.dri.jɔː] (ladder) from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱley- (to lean, slope, incline) [source]

English words from the same PIE root include: climate, client, clinic, decline, incline and lean [source].

Words in Celtic languages meaning left (hand/side) come from the same PIE root, including: clé in Irish, clì in Scottish Gaelic, cledd in Welsh and kleiz in Breton, which also means north [source].

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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Omniglot News (17/10/21)

There are three new language pages on Omniglot this week:

  • Tukang Besi, a Celebic language spoken mainly in the Tukangbesi Islands in Wakatobi district of Southeast Sulawesi Province in central Indonesia.
  • Chittagonian (চিটাইঙ্গা), an Eastern Bengali-Assamese language spoken in the Chittagong Division in southeast Bangladesh.
  • Wolio, a Celebic language spoken in the province of Southeast Sulawesi in Indonesia.

There’s a new adapated script: Malay-Indonesian Cyrillic (Алфабэт Кирил Мэлайу-Индонэсиа), a way to write Malay and Indonesian with the Cyrillic alphabet devised by Naufal Rizky Rahardian.

There are new phrases and numbers in Kven (kvääni), a Finnic language spoken in northern Norway.

The mystery language in last week’s language quiz was Kven, and I’ve just posted a new Language Quiz.

There’s a new post on the Omniglot blog called Fighting Combs, about the Scots word fecht (to fight), and related words in Dutch, English, German, Swedish and Russian.

There are two new Celtiadur posts this week: one about Ale and Beer and one about Lakes and Ponds.

In this week’s Adventure in Etymology we find connections between Words and Verbs.

I made improvements to Maithili phrases page, which now has translations of all the phrases thanks to Binu V Nair of Languages Home.

In other news, I went to a folk music session on Tuesday night and spoke, and sang in, Welsh most of the time. We also spoke some Irish, German, Dutch, Finnish and English – just a typical night in Bangor.

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

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 (26/09/21)

There are three new languages on Omniglot this week:

  • Kambera (hilu Humba), a Sumba-Flores language spoken mainly in the east of Sumba Island in the Lesser Sunda Islands in East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia.
  • Mentawai (Behase Mentawei), a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken in the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra province of Indonesia.
  • Gayo (Basa Gayo), a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken in Aceh province in the highland region of north Sumatra in Indonesia.

There’s new adapated script on Omniglot week called Hermosa española (هعرمۆسا عسپاڽۆلا), which is a way to write Spanish with the Arabic alphabet devised by Zayan Anwar.

There are new numbers pages in Proto-Italic, Umbrian, Oscan and Ket.

On the Omniglot blog this week I wrote a post about the Japanese word 賑やか / にぎやか (nigiyaka), because I just liked the sound of it, and related words in Japanese and Chinese, as well as the usual language quiz.

The mystery language in last week’s language quiz was Kanakanavu, a Southern Tsouic language spoken in the villages of Manga and Takanua in Namasia District (那瑪夏區) of Kaohsiung (高雄) in southern Taiwan.

In this week’s Celtiadur post you can find connections between words for victory in Celtic languages, the English word booty, and Queen Boudica.

This week’s Adventure in Etymology looks into the origins of the word neighbour, as I got to know some of my neighbours better this week. I found out that some of them speak other languages, including Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French and Irish, and I got to speak a bit of all those languages, and some Welsh as well with one of my builders.

I made a new video this week featuring me play a tune I wrote a few years ago called the Dancing Donkeys on four different instruments, and it’s been getting a lot of views and likes on TikTok particularly.

In other news, work started on laying the foundations of my new garden studio this week:

Laying the foundations for my garden studio

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

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.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Omniglot News (29/08/21)

This week we have a new writing system on Omniglot: the Qiang Script, which was created in 2017 and is used to write the Qiang languages of Sichuan Province in the southwest of China. One of those languages, Northern Qiang (Rrmea), now features on Omniglot, and was the mystery language in this week’s language quiz on the Omniglot blog.

There’s a new phrases page in Cumbric (Cumbraek), a reconstructed language based on Cumbric, a Celtic language that was spoken in parts of northern England and southern Scotland until about the 12th century.

There’s a new page about colour words and expressions in Igbo (Ásụ̀sụ̀ Ìgbò), a Volta-Niger language spoken mainly in southeast Nigeria.

There’s a new article about Colloquial Indonesian Spoken by Papuans, that is on the island of New Guinea in Papua New Guinea, and in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

This week’s Celtiadur post is about words for oxen and related words in Celtic languages. I discovered that words for sheep in the Brythonic languages, such as dafad in Welsh, are related to words for oxen and stags in the Goidelic languages, such as damh, which can refer to an ox, stag, strong man, champion or a corpulent person.

There are Omniglot blog posts about words for skips, dumpsters and related things in English and French: Skip to the Bin and Skips and Dumpsters.

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

There is a new Radio Omniglot podcast about surnames, specifically about some of the most common surnames in England and Wales.

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

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 9 – Window

Today we are looking at the word window [ˈwɪndəʊ / ˈwɪndoʊ].

Definition: an opening in the wall of a building, the side of a vehicle, etc., for the admission of air or light, or both, commonly fitted with a frame in which are set movable sashes containing panes of glass [source].

Windows

Window comes from the Middle English windowe/windohe/windoge, from the Old Norse vindauga (window) or literally “wind-eye/wind-hole”, as windows were originally unglazed holes in walls or roofs that allowed the wind to pass through [source].

Another word for window in Middle English was fenestre/fenester, which was used in parallel with windowe/windohe/windoge until the mid 16th century. It comes from the Old French fenestre (window), from the Latin fenestra (window, breach, loophole, orifice, inlet), which possibly came from Etruscan.

In Old English a window was known as an eagþyrel [ˈæ͜ɑːɣˌθyː.rel] (“eye-hole”) or ēagduru [ˈæ͜ɑːɣˌdu.ru] (“eye-door”). This fell out of use by about 1200 AD [source].

Words for window in some other Germanic languages are similar to window, including vindue [ˈvend̥u] in Danish, vindu in Norwegian, vindeyga [ˈvɪntˌɛiːja] in Faroese, and vindöga in Swedish, although that is no longer used, and fönster is used instead.

Words for window in the Goidelic languages were borrowed from Old Norse: fuinneog [ˈfˠɪn̠ʲoːɡ] in Irish, uinneag [ɯn̪ʲag] in Scottish Gaelic and uinnag [onˈjaɡ] in Manx [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.