Adventures in Etymology – Sneeze

Today we’re investigating the origins of the word sneeze.

Sneeze

Sneeze [sniːz] means:

  • to emit air or breath suddenly, forcibly, and audibly through the nose and mouth by involuntary, spasmodic action.

It comes from the Middle English snesen [ˈsneːzən] (to sneeze), from fnesen [ˈfneːzən] (to sneeze) from the Old English fnēosan [ˈfne͜oː.zɑn] (to sneeze), from the Proto-Germanic *fneusaną [ɸneu̯.sɑ.nɑ̃] (to sneeze), from the Proto-Indo-European *pnew- (to pant, breathe, snort, sneeze) [source].

A related word in Middle English was fnesy [fneːziː] (having a tendency to wheeze or sneeze) [source]. Other words that began with fn in Middle Engilsh included fnoren and fnorten which became snore and snort in Modern English.

An old word for to sneeze in English was neeze, which is or was used in some dialects in the UK. It came from the Middle English nesen (to sneeze), from the Old English *hnēosan (to sneeze), from the Proto-Germanic *hneusaną (to sneeze), from the PIE *(s)knus- (to sneeze) and *pnew- (to pant, breathe) [source].

Words from the PIE root *pnew- include pneumatic and pneumonia in English, pneu (tyre/tire) in French, and πνέω [ˈpne.o] (to blow) in Greek [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 – Secret

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

Secret

A secret [ˈsiːkɹɪt / ˈsiːkɹət] is:

  • A piece of knowledge that is hidden and intended to be kept hidden.
  • The key or principle by which something is made clear; the knack.
  • Something not understood or known.

It comes from the Middle English secrette (secret), from the Old French secret (secret), from the Latin sēcrētus (put apart, separated, severed), from sēcernō (to separate, set aside), from sē- (aside, by itself) and cernō (to see, discern), from the PIE *krey (to sift, separate, divide) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include: certain, concern, crime, crisis, critic, discreet and hypocrisy [source].

Words in other languages from the same PIE root include: crynu [ˈkrənɨ/ˈkrəni] (to tremble, shiver, shudder) in Welsh, κρίνω [ˈkɾi.no] (to judge, assess, decide) in Greek, cernere [ˈt͡ʃɛr.ne.re] to separate, distinguish, choose) in Italian, and kraj [kraj] (country, land, border) in Polish [source].

In Old English a secret was a dēagol [ˈdæ͜ɑː.ɣol], which also meant hidden, obscure or (poetically) dark, which became diȝel in Middle English. It comes from the Proto-West Germanic *daugul (hidden, secret) [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 – 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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Adventures in Etymology 10 – Enigmatic

Today we are looking at the word enigmatic [ˌen.ɪɡˈmæt.ɪk/ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk], a mysterious, puzzling, perplexing and inscrutable word that defies description.

Definition: “mysterious and impossible to understand completely” [source]. Or,“resembling an enigma, or a puzzling occurrence, situation, statement, person, etc.; perplexing; mysterious” [source].

enigmatic ayam

It comes from enigma (riddle; sth/sb puzzling, mysterious or inexplicable), from the Latin aenigma [ae̯ˈniɡ.ma] (riddle, allegory), from the Ancient Greek αἴνιγμα [ˈɛ.niɣ.ma] (riddle, taunt, ambush) from αἶνος [ˈɛ.nos] (story, fable, praise) [source], which is posibly the root of the name Αἰνείας / Aenēās, the trojan hero of the Aeneid, and legendary ancestor of Romans [source].

In Modern Greek αίνιγμα [ˈɛniɣma] means a riddle, puzzle or enigma, αινιγματικός [ɛniɣmatiˈkɔs] means enigmatic, mysterious, inscrutable, and αινιγματικότητα (ainigmatikótita) means obscurity.

Greek recordings made with: https://ttsfree.com/

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.

Episode 43 – Punctuation

In this episode I talk about punctuation, focusing particularly on the history and development of punctuation, and some of the people involved.

Here is Victor Borge demonstrating his Phonetic Punctuation:

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Frolicing Ferrets / Ffuredau sy’n Prancio

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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Episode 41 – Words

In this episode I talk about words – what they are and where they come from. This is losely based on a talk I gave at the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava in 2018 entitled “Deconstructing Language“.

Videos and slides from other presentations I have given at language-related events.

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Y Delyn Newydd (The New Harp)

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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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 36 – The Easiest Languages

In this episode I discuss which languages are easiest to learn for native speakers of English, and what factors make languages easy or difficult to learn, including grammar, spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, the availablity of resources, and so on.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Happy Hedgehog / Y Draenog Hapus

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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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.

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Episode 31 – Talent

In this episode I talk about talent, particularly talent for languages. Do some people have an innate talent for learning languages? Do others lack such a talent? If you don’t have a talent for languages, can you learn one anyway?

Further reading:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-innate-talent-a-myth/

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Little Red Boats / Cychod bach coch – a tune I wrote on the cavaquinho in 2017.

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