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

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Fortition or Lenition as semantical markers

Is there a term for phonetic change relative to a change in meaning, for example a hard consonant becoming soft relative to a technical term that attains a diminutive sense? Curses for example sound ...
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2answers
67 views

How did Gk. ταινία “band, ribbon” come from PIE *tn̥-yā- < *ten- “to stretch”?

AHD-IER (Watkin, 2011) P93 gives PIE *tn̥-yā- for Gk. ταινία: Suffixed zero-grade form *tn̥-yā‑. taenia; polytene, from Greek tainiā, band, ribbon. while EDG (Robert Beekes, 2010) P1444: ...
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2answers
65 views

Can we use etymology to determine the nature of synchronic semantic and morphosyntactic differences between (near-)synonyms?

I've recently joined a discussion in which some of the participants insist that if one doesn't understand the nature of the difference between two or more words (the ones discussed by us are synonyms ...
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71 views

Is there truly no semantic notion that underlies the prefix 'for-'?

McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). What Language Is (2011), pp. 87-88. Both McWhorter overhead and Etymonline avouch no single semantic notion that can underlie all of for-'s meanings. ...
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64 views

How did 'man's time on earth' semantically shift to mean the 'earth' itself?

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Words on the Move (2016). p. 190 Bottom. World began as wer-eld, where wer p. 191 Top was that "man" word and eld meant "old," as in age. Wer-eld ...
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35 views

How did 'narrow' semantically shift to mean 'strong'? [closed]

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Words on the Move (2016). p. 101.   So, one answer to the observation "But wasn't it nice to have a way to express that concept?" is: not really, and ...
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2answers
159 views

How often are dictionary etymologies wrong?

How often are the etymologies in dictionaries incorect? Sometimes when reading a dictionary I see a derivation of a word which contradicts my intuition. For example I read that "ball" comes from ...
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Are there any words which have the meaning 'Hello' or 'Hi' with Turkic origin? [duplicate]

In Turkish we say Merhaba or Selam when we want to say Hi to someone but both of these words have Arabic origin. I know that the same goes on with the other Turkic languages like Azerbaijani, Kazakh, ...
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1answer
93 views

Genocide vs. genticide [closed]

I was interested in understanding the origin and meaning of the word "genocide" and went to the Online Etymology Dictionary where it says that "The proper formation would be genticide." Why would the ...
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1answer
58 views

How did « admettre » semantically generalize to signify 'confess'?

McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). The Power of Babel (2003). p. 32 Bottom.   Semantic drift has an especially visible effect on combinations of roots and prefixes or suffixes, and this ...
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3answers
115 views

Gold in French, light in Hebrew

I am fascinated by questions of linguistic relation between Hebrew and the Romance Languages, but I feel here I may have stumbled on a false connection and would like to be properly put in my place. ...
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5answers
310 views

Why aren't linguists formally trained in etymology?

McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue (2009). p. x Bottom.   Yet my impatience with the word fetish of typical popular treatments of The History of English is ...
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1answer
85 views

Is it possible for two Semitic (e.g. Arabic, Hebrew) words with the same triliteral root to have different origins?

Learning Arabic, I see some examples of triliteral roots from which words with apparently different meanings are derived. Example: ف ط ر (f-ṭ-r) "to break apart or tear": فَطَرَ • (faṭara) (maybe ...
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83 views

Did modern Farsi lose its casual word for yes?

Hobby linguistic learner here. Farsi naturally shares a lot of simple words with other Indo-European languages: German for [daughter]: "Tochter" / "doxtar" (دوختر) English for [bad]: "bad"/"bad" (بد)...
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72 views

Does Sanskrit निस् • (nis) “out, forth, away” come from PIE *ni- “in; down?” with meaning shift from “in” to “out”?

निस्·nis "out, forth, away" > nirvana "to blow out, extinguish; out of breath?" नि·ni "down, back, in, into" < PIE *h₁én "in; down?" My question is whether these words are from the same PIE root? ...
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Phenomenon or phrase describing the understanding of words out of context

E.g. The phrase 'I love you' is common. If the word 'love' was replaced by an unrelated word (i.e. 'radiator') then the sentence 'I radiator you' would be meaningless. But if the word radiator was ...
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45 views

Why say “PC vs Macs” [closed]

What's the origin of the pharsing since Macs are personal computers and PC stands for Personal Computers but is used to refer to windows-powered computers? I apologise if I used the wrong tag.
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1answer
91 views

The origins of PIE *-nt- and *-to-

I have learned that English present participle suffix -ing and past participle suffix -ed came from PIE *-nt- and *-to- respectively. I have two questions about them. (1)Were these also used to form ...
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4answers
431 views

Why are the reconstructed forms of PIE root in Etymonline and Wiktionary different?

I found PIE roots described in Etymonline (or American Heritage Dictionary) and Wiktionary are quite different. For examples: agō: *ag- (Etymonline), *h₂eǵ- (Wiktionary) laxō: *sleg- (...
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2answers
219 views

What are cognates of “fuck” in other Indo-European languages?

I am not asking for translations, but how the word itself is related to words in other languages and what those words have come to mean like how "shit" is related to "science". I would really ...
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2answers
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What is the meaning of the number 2 in Proto-Indo European reconstructions? e.g. As in *tewtéh₂, meaning “people” or “tribe”

I am a writer doing some research into ancient languages for a story I am creating. Despite having done some formal and informal study on linguistics (I am familiar with a phonetic chart) and informal ...
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46 views

Do we have an Intonation “etymology”?

Recently I was thinking about a language I'm currently learning and its similarities with my own native language. While I assume grammar to change considerably depending on language it came to mind ...
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1answer
161 views

Can these new etymological pairs of PIE roots be true?

I find a paper containing new lists of cognates on PIE root level, and don't know such phenomena or rules are convincing or not, the list follows below: 1. The voiceless stop vs. voiced aspirated ...
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68 views

Origins of “Mark” as “symbol” [closed]

friends! How is it going? : ) I've been conducting a heavy research on the word "mark" for the past month, but unfortunately I'm far from being a linguist, so I lack decent resources... hahaha I ...
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2answers
120 views

How is chapter related to head?

In several languages, the word for "chapter" (a self-contained unitary text of a book) comes from the word for "head": In Latin, "capitulum" (literally "small head") comes from caput (head). This ...
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1answer
59 views

Is 'good bye" from an Asian origin?

The Thai ไป,-'Pị' as used in 'di pi' and the English 'good bye' sound the same and mean the same. Is there a known etymological link?
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50 views

Etymology of the unit “Marc” (German►English)

Friends! First of all, thanks for your time and help. I'm conducting a research on the word "Mark", and before I explain all I know so far, let me tell you: The goal is to trace the connection ...
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2answers
105 views

Etymology of the words ''Wave''

Do the words Wave(English) Welle(German) Vague(French) have the same Etymology as Val(Serbo-Croatian,Slovenian),Vlna(Czech,Slovakian),BолнаVolna. All these words mean the same thing-Wave. but I ...
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59 views

What's the difference between לזכור and להיזכר in Modern Hebrew? [closed]

In Modern Hebrew, the words לזכור and להיזכר both mean "to remember" and they both come from the root 'זכר'. As an English speaker, it's as if there were two words, "remember" and "remomber" and there ...
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2answers
118 views

'm' in the words meaning first person

I have read in a book about the theory that explains why in many languages pronouns meaning first person contain letter 'm' (e.g. me, moi, меня, mich) and pronouns describing second person contain ...
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2answers
136 views

Are the English words “essence” and “essential” related to the Spanish word “ser”?

I always think of the Spanish verb "ser" being related to "essence", which can be contrasted with the verb "estar", which is related to "state". "Ser" is also a noun with various meanings including "...
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185 views

Does the French word for Friday, “vendredi”, come from the Latin “Veneris” or the old Norse “Vanadis”?

When looking up the etymology of the French vendredi online, I can only find the suggestion that it comes from the Latin Veneris (Venus). However, the English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish and ...
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103 views

What is the relation of PIE *wers (“to confuse, mix up; to beat, thresh, grind”), *wert (“to turn, to rotate”), and *werb (“to bend, to turn”)?

From *wers we get English war, worse, worst. From *wert we get English versus, verse, version, vertex, vortex, vertical, revert, invert, divert,..., worth, -ward, weird. From *werb/p we get ...
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56 views

Is there an etymological relationship between Cartesian and words like carte? [closed]

"Cartesian space" refers to a coordinate system that is sometimes referred to as a map. It is named after René Descartes. Meanehile, the french word for "map" is "carte." Is there any relationship? ...
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131 views

Elusive etymology, false cognate?

So I just stumbled upon this beautiful word, Eleusinian(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleusinian_Mysteries), named after a Greek town. Given they had a history of cool initian rites, and all the jazz ...
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1answer
79 views

is there “i” suffix that makes verb from noun, in latin or its ancestors? etymology of tio(n) suffix [closed]

Wiktionary says on PIE -h₃onh₂-: Descendants Italic: ... Latin: -iō (from *-i-h₃onh₂-) (e.g. legiō (“group of selected people”)) Latin: -ō (e.g. Nāsō (“having a conspicuous nose”), poss. ...
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2answers
123 views

The origin of a common word for tongue/language?

It seems that a lot of Indo-European languages use a common word to denote both a language, and the tongue (body part). In French, the same word is used for both aspects (langue). It is also the case ...
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1answer
84 views

What determines how a language creates new words? For example, is it likely for English to continue to create new words from Latin in future?

In particular, I'm curious about the phenomenon where a language creates most new, modern words using a dead ancient language, rather than its existing, living original word roots. One example is ...
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1answer
128 views

How did “will” lose the meaning “want” in English?

Will used to mean want (and sometimes still does) but in other Germanic languages, such as Dutch and Norwegian, the cognate still means want. What was different about English to cause this?
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1answer
55 views

Etymology of the place name Chattaroy

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question, but my parents grew up in Chattaroy Washington, and I'm curious what the word's origins are. I've done a little searching and I can't ...
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2answers
50 views

Is there a term for the diminishment of intensity of meaning over time?

I can only imagine this has been asked before, but the closest I found in a search had to do with translation and slang. Sorry if it's been answered! My question is about the watering-down of English ...
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4answers
249 views

Why did English “man” and Latin “homo” take both the senses “gender-neutral human” and “male adult”?

Why did English "man" and Latin "homo" take both the sense "gender-neutral human" and "male adult"? According to etymonline.com, English "man", and incidentally Latin "homo" (which originally meant "...
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147 views

Is Japanese “subaru” related to Russian “soberu” and Latin “conferre”?

Is Japanese "subaru" related to Russian "soberu" ("I'll put together") and Latin "conferre" ("to bring together")? I think both Latin and Russian words derive from Proto-Indo-European "com bheroa̯" "...
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2answers
124 views

How do we get from Greek τρόπος to French trouver?

The French verb trouver (to find/think) can trace its ancestry back to the Greek word τρόπος, which means a turn, manner, style, or figure of speech. Is there any logic to this seemingly disconnected ...
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1answer
81 views

Do we know anything more about the semantic shift of “with” in Middle English?

The Wiktionary page on the English word "with" < *wi says that the meaning of "with" shifted in Middle English to denote association instead of opposition. The latter sense is still present in ...
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86 views

“yotta” in Greek and Armenian

The Armenian word for seven is "yotta", which sounds suspiciously similar to the Greek prefix for a factor of one septillion (though AIUI it comes from the ancient Greek word for eight, not seven). Is ...
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3answers
150 views

Do “wise” and “wissen” share the same root?

A cursory search shows that the English adjective "wise" and the German verb "wissen" descend from the same root: the PIE *weyd- ("to see, to know"). I found this by using Etymonline to search the ...
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96 views

Turkish “Yaz” vs. Azerbaijani “Yaz”

In some Turkic languages (like Turkish and Kazakh), the word Yaz means Summer, while in other Turkic languages (like Azeri, Chuvash and Yakut) the very same word means Spring. The Old Turkic meaning ...
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207 views

What is the etymology of Sicilian “vanedda”?

This question arises from my research on Si maritau Rosa, a Sicilian song, where I found what seems to be a clear diminutive of vanedda, that is vanidduzza. Nowhere do I find that word directly, so I ...
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108 views

Etymology of Romance words for Marriage [closed]

There are a few different Romance etyma with the meaning 'marriage'. Some are derived from Latin casa 'house', some from mater 'mother', and some from mas/maris 'man': L casa [+ -mentum] > CA ...