The study of the history of words including their origins and the changes they've undergone through time.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
1answer
67 views

Why were words for the four cardinal directions in Romance languages borrowed from Old English?

Why were words for the four cardinal directions (east, west, north, south) in Romance languages borrowed from Old English? They could have used their own words derived from Latin because these words ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

How did the word “combine” come to refer to any number of items?

This is the etymology of the word "combine": link As you can see it all boils down to just two word-forming elements: "com-" and "bis-". So the word "combine" carries in itself information about only ...
2
votes
0answers
43 views

History of Danish “nd” and “ld”

Danish orthography often has "nd" and "ld" instead of "nn" and "ll", often in cases where it is not etymologically justified. Does anybody know more about this, like when this kind of spelling started ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

collection of derivative nouns

I am a researcher in Computational Linguistics. Recently, my research interests led me towards the analysis derivative nouns, specifically nouns derived from other nouns. For example, India to Indian, ...
4
votes
2answers
56 views

What is the etymology of “adventus?”

What is the complete root etymology of the Latin word "adventus?"
0
votes
1answer
55 views

/s/ or /z/ in ending of [long vowel] + “se” or “s” [closed]

Are there any rules regarding the pronunciation of "se" or "s" in the ending [long vowel] + "se" or "s"? /z/: tease, browse /s/: lease, house English pronunciation pod in the reference just lists ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

How a portmanteau of God's name would be formed

This is follow up on a question I posed in Mi Yodeya. I was investigating the source of the belief that God's name is "a combination of the words 'Will be, is, was' (יהיה Yihiyeh, Hoveh הווה, haya ...
0
votes
1answer
25 views

Name of the act of borrowing linguistic concepts from different languages

What is the term for concepts that got translated from one language or another? I've heard this term in a conversation about Czech Anglicisms such like: "Mějte hezký den." - the literal version of ...
-1
votes
0answers
43 views

What underlying semantic notions connect the meaning of 'circle, ring, something curved' to that of 'row, line'?

rank (n.) [3.] early 14c., "row, line series;" c. 1400, a row of an army, from Old French renc, ranc "row, line" (Modern French rang), [2.] from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source (...
2
votes
2answers
85 views

Determining the Age of a Word

Apologies in advance for any ignorance, I'm a non-linguist hoping to better understand the methods in the field (if any) to answer a question I have. In particular, I want to know when a word first ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

Why did “exempli gratia” (e.g.) and “id est” (i.e.) become widespread in English, but not in other languages?

Usage of the abbreviations "e.g." and "i.e." is very common in English, but not so much in other language. In Dutch they are used sometimes, but they are recent imports due to a lot of exposure to ...
4
votes
2answers
428 views

Can we predict written language's evolution due to technological advances?

Using the "shortcuts" that are used nowadays (emoticons, internet abbreviations, email formatting, memes, social media sharing [Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus, "tweets" and the like) as a base, can ...
1
vote
2answers
77 views

do migrating letters happen often in languages?

Outside things like contractions (can't, won't) and word combinations (smoke + fog = smog), which take out letters wholesale, I'm looking for the phrase like an Orange, that seems to have started off ...
3
votes
2answers
155 views

Why do most languages have multiple genders? Also, how do languages determine what gender to give things?

In many languages (unlike English) if translated literally, you would have people saying "the masculine case X," "the feminine case that," or "the neuter case this other." To make things even more ...
4
votes
1answer
54 views

Origin of the term “iminutive”

The word "iminutive" is used in Yiddish, and, apparently, Bavarian grammar to refer to the second diminutive (i.e., of nouns). The etymology of "diminutive" is clear. As for the provenance of the ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

Expressions derived from Italian mafia

I apologize in advance for the explicit words, the question is anyway purely linguistical. Feel free to censore the words if appropriate. I have heard that the American slang expression "Do not break ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

Derivation of “glitzy” — does it have Yiddish roots? [closed]

In Leo Rosten's book, The Joys of Yiddish, he defines the Yiddish word for people from the Hungarian/Polish region of Galicia, as "Galitzianers"(McGraw Hill, 1968), pp. 122-23. In singular masculine ...
1
vote
2answers
94 views

Origin of née in English speaking countries and the rise in usage of it [closed]

I have been noticing recently (last few years), née/nee being used a lot more commonly both in general media (newspapers, internet, even TV), but more so on information/encyclopaedial websites such as ...
6
votes
0answers
88 views

Is there a relationship between Arabic ka'b and Greek kybos?

This is a complete layman's question. Online etymology dictionary says about kaaba: 1734, Caaba, cube-shaped building in the Great Mosque of Mecca, containing the Black Stone, the most sacred site ...
2
votes
1answer
93 views

Why are the Dutch called “belanda” in Malay and Indonesian?

While reading on the etymology of the turkey, I found that the Malays and Indonesians called the animal ayam belanda (Dutch chicken). I was then reminded of the proboscis monkey, which is called ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Do “shew” and “eschew” come from the same root?

If so, are they antonyms or did one undergo a lexical shift to become the other? Also, is the /es-/ prefix used as a negator in any other English words, or is this case an exception?
2
votes
2answers
90 views

Are There Ancient Greek Words Descended From Sumerian?

Does the lexicon of Ancient Greek contain words believed to be of Sumerian origin? If so, can some estimate of their number be provided? Thanks
3
votes
1answer
72 views

The semantical change of сарай - “saráj” (rus., ukr.) vs. sister and donor languages: pl. 'seraj', srb-cro. 'saraj'

Much like (eng.) saray, the words derive themselves from Ottoman Turkish latinized: saray ("palace", "mansion", "castle"), which itself is derived from Persian سرای ("hall", "dwelling", "mansion", "...
0
votes
1answer
96 views

Did 'the' in 'the which' mean anything?

I was advised to repost my original ELU question here. Did 'the' mean anything in the which, compared with the relative pronoun which? OED's entries for the which only redirect to definitions of '...
0
votes
0answers
15 views

What underlying semantic notions connect 'comeback' to 'joining' or 'restarting'?

[ repartee (n.) : ] 1640s, "quick remark," from French repartie "an answering blow or thrust" (originally a fencing term), noun use of fem. past participle of Old French repartir [See Wiktionary] ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

What can be said about the evolution of syllable stress in related languages?

Remembering a Czech song I once learnt I remembered a short Czech crash course I had and the teacher who said: In Czech, stress is always on the first syllable. This got me thinking and I ...
12
votes
1answer
647 views

Do the words “angst” and “anxiety” share a common root?

The English word angst, taken from German Angst, seems to ultimately originate from Proto-Germanic *angustiz. This word has descendants in many Germanic languages, including, but not limited to, ...
-2
votes
1answer
37 views

What underlying semantic notions connect 'less' to 'not'? [closed]

What underlying notions explain this same semantic shift from 'less' to 'not' (ie: negation)? It appears in all 4 languages below, as evidenced by the Spanish and Portuguese synonymy. I know that in ...
-1
votes
1answer
51 views

Is the Indian female name “Sati” the same as the self-immolating Hindu goddess? [closed]

I heard about an Indian woman (possibly Hindu) with a given name of Sati the other day. Checking the internet, this site confirmed that Sati is an Indian female name. Is the name "Sati" related to ...
2
votes
1answer
69 views

How strong was the r/l distinction in Proto-Afro-Asiatic?

The East Asian languages do not distinguish r and l. The PIE had r/l alternation in suffixes: -tlom/-trom, -dhlom/-dhrom, -ter/-tel, -ros/-los. What can be said in this context about Afro-Asiatic ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

Why are raccoons called “washbears” in many languages?

Examples of words that literally mean "washbear" can be found here. This is apparently due to the fact that raccoons just love to wash things so much. But is it just a coincidence that many languages ...
6
votes
1answer
206 views

Where did the homonyms which retain meaning among languages come from?

Some languages have homonyms which are semantically equivalent to homonyms in other languages. A few examples of this phenomenon: "Morgen" in German and "утре" in Bulgarian can mean either "...
4
votes
0answers
45 views

How effective is linguistics at tracking trade routes?

Is anyone aware of any studies done that show the effectiveness of using linguistics as a means of identifying trade between civilizations. I'll provide this example for what I mean: I have been told ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Just a stupid question about possible connection between Finno-Ugric and European languages

So, I've taken a look on some Finnic conjugation and it just seems VERY similar to Indo-European languages. For instance, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/n%C3%A4hd%C3%A4#Finnish . One notices ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

Is there a term for words which falsely appear to be related etymologically?

I was doing research into the use of axes in Japanese martial arts. I discovered that the common name for this tool os "ono." I then discovered that is has another name, "masa-kari." If I were to ...
1
vote
2answers
71 views

Does the Slavic word rā́dъ have cognates in Indo-iranian?

I found a source which gives the PIE origin: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/ielex/X/P1589.html But it only lists Slavic reflexes. Are there related words in Persian or Sanskrit? Wikipedia ...
2
votes
0answers
55 views

The etymology of Sanskrit jāla 'web'

I am looking for an etymology on the Sanskrit word jāla 'web'. What is the origin of it? I am trying to find a parallel in other Indo-European languages but no luck so far.
1
vote
1answer
56 views

When did the colloquial term “up north” and “down south” begin?

When did the colloquial phrase "up north" and "down south" begin to be used? I am trying to find more information for a book I am working on that takes place around 1830 and am not sure if this was in ...
0
votes
0answers
44 views

How to practically apply Grimm and Verner's law to english and Spanish

I am a beginner in linguistics and don't know many details about the field of study in general, but, for a beginner, is there anything that shows how english and spanish are related through those laws ...
-2
votes
1answer
60 views

How did 'of' absorb so many meanings?

[OED:] The primary sense was ‘away’, ‘away from’, a sense now obsolete, except in so far as it is retained under the spelling off (see off adv., prep., n.1, and adj.). All the existing uses of of are ...
4
votes
3answers
212 views

Verner's Law and 'ge-'

Verner's Law says that voiceless fricatives, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing. The Germanic prefix 'ge-' as in German 'genug' or English 'enough' ...
0
votes
1answer
100 views

Is there any english version [online, PDF] of the following?

Is there any english version [online, PDF] of the following?: Mayhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen. I had downloaded one but unfortunately it was in German language which is ...
-3
votes
2answers
85 views

What is the underlying meaning of the English 'of'? [closed]

TL;DR: What is the semantic field or the big picture behind the English 'of'? I seek an explanation like this which exposes the underlying semantic field of ‘tally’. Addendum: of (as a ...
6
votes
3answers
237 views

The origin of the term 'verb'

References tell me that the term 'verb' originally means 'word'. This is easily understood by usages such as 'verbal abuse', 'verbal agreement', 'he's very verbal', etc. That said, of all the various ...
2
votes
1answer
188 views

Why are some sea mammals called “sea pigs”?

Recently, I learnt that the literal meaning of the main written Japanese form for dolphin, "海豚", is "sea" and "pig". The Japanese person mentioning that noted that he didn't know for sure why that was ...
1
vote
1answer
235 views

Why should etymology stop where it does?

There are many words whose origin is traced through Middle English and/or French to Latin or Greek, and then it just stops there. Case in point: the word "etymology" itself: 1350-1400; Middle ...
-1
votes
1answer
77 views

What is the meaning of “Mar”? [closed]

I am wondering what is the meaning of ," Mar" part of some words such as Margarita, Maria, Martin? I appreciate your answer! Thanks in advance! Margarita
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Origin of words [closed]

I'd like to know how words originated. I'm not talking about etymology. For example, an etymology web site says the word "love" came from PIE(Proto-Indo-European) "leubh". Then how "leubh" originated? ...
3
votes
2answers
108 views

Why does Greek have 'aorgesia' and 'aorist' rather than 'anorgesia' and 'anorist'?

The Ancient Greek words ἀοργησία aorgesia "a defect in the passion of anger" and ἀόριστος aoristos "without boundaries" both start with the "alpha privatum," the negative prefix cognate to English un- ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

How was the Anglo-Norman spelling of 'demesne' 'merely graphic'?

[OED:] The Anglo-Norman spelling demesne of the law-books, and 17th cent. legal antiquaries, was partly merely graphic (the quiescence of original s before a consonant leading to the insertion of a ...