Adventures in Etymology – Fool

As yesterday was April Fools’ Day, today we’re looking into the origins of the word fool.

walking fool

A fool [fuːl] is:

  • a person with poor judgment or little intelligence.
  • a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement.
  • a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid.
  • a type of dessert made of puréed fruit and custard or cream.

It comes from the Middle English fole [foːl] (fool, idiot, moron), from the Old French fol [ˈfɔl] (mad, insane, foolish, silly), from the Latin follis [ˈfol.lis] (bellows, purse, sack, belly), from the PIE *bʰelǵʰ- (bag, pillow, paunch), from *bʰel- (to swell, blow, inflate, burst) [source].

Some words in Celtic languages comes from the same PIE root, via the Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach). These include bol [bɔl] (stomach) in Welsh, bolg [ˈbˠɔlˠəɡ] (belly, stomach, bulge, bag) in Irish, and bolgan [bɔl̪ˠɔgan] (light bulb, (plant) bulb) in Scottish Gaelic [source]. More details of these words is available on my Celtiadur blog.

English words from the same PIE root include bellows, belly, and bolster, via Old English and Proto-Germanic, billow via Old Norse and Proto-Germanic, foolish and folly via Old French and Latin [source], and bulge, budge and budget via Old French, Latin and Gaulish [source].

The first part of the word foolhardy (recklessly or thoughtlessly bold; foolishly rash or venturesome) comes from the same root as fool, while hardy comes from the Old French hardi (durable, hardy, tough), from the Frankish *hartjan, from the Proto-Germanic *harduz [ˈxɑr.ðuz] (hard, brave), from the PIE *kert-/*kret- (strong, powerful), from which part of the word democratic originates [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 – Deck

Today we’re exploring the origins of the word deck.

Sunset over Bangor pier

deck [dɛk] means:

  • Any raised flat surface that can be walked on: a balcony; a porch; a raised patio; a flat rooftop.
  • The floorlike covering of the horizontal sections, or compartments, of a ship.
  • A main aeroplane surface.

It comes from the Middle English dekke (the roof over any part of a boat or ship), from Middle Dutch dec (roof, covering), from decken (to roof, cover, protect), from Old Dutch thecken (to cover, roof), from Proto-West-Germanic *þakkjan (to cover), from Proto-Germanic *þakjaną [ˈθɑk.jɑ.nɑ̃] (to cover), *þaką (roof, cover), from PIE *(s)teg- (cover) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root (*þaką) include: thatch in English, dak (roof) and dekken [ˈdɛkə(n)] (to cover, set) in Dutch, Dach (roof) and decken (to cover, set) in German, tak (roof, ceiling) and täcka [tɛka] (to cover) in Swedish, and tag (roof) and tække (to thatch) in Danish [source].

Words from the same PIE root (*(s)teg-) include: detect, protect, tile and toga in English, (house) in Welsh, and teach (house) in Irish [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 – Wood

Today we’re trying to see the wood for the trees by looking at the origins of the word wood.

Here be trees!

Wood [wʊd] is:

  • The substance making up the central part of the trunk and branches of a tree. Used as a material for construction, to manufacture various items, etc. or as fuel.
  • A forested or wooded area.

It comes from the Middle English wode [ˈwoːd(ə)] (wood), from the Old English wudu [ˈwu.du] (wood, forest, woods, tree), from the Proto-West-Germanic *widu (forest, tree, wood), from the Proto-Germanic *widuz [ˈwi.ðuz] (wood), from the PIE *h₁weydʰh₁ (wood, wilderness) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include ved (wood, firewood) in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, gwŷdd [ɡwɨːð] (trees) in Welsh, fiodh [fʲɪ] (wood, timber) in Irish, and vidus (middle, centre) in Latvian [source].

How did a word meaning wood come to mean middle or centre in Latvian? Well, apparently the areas between villages were mainly forested in the past, and the meaning shifted from forest to area (between villages) to middle [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 – 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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