Questions tagged [etymology]

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

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8
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80 views

Is anything known about the origin of the hard “g” in “guénti” in Santiago, Cape Verdean Creole?

There is a word "guénti" /'gɛn ti/ in the Santiago dialect of Cape Verdean Creole, which is used to mean "people" or "you people/you all". It clearly comes from the ...
7
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1answer
480 views

Etymology (?) of the “shush” gesture

I'm curious about the origin of and explanation for the place-index-finger-to-closed-lips gesture. All I've found so far is this unattributed assertion that it dates at least to the era of Classical ...
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65 views

What is the origin of certain Hungarian suffixes?

I have a question about the etymology (within the Uralic family) of three Hungarian morphemes Accusative -t- suffix: Hungarian has an accusative in -t- (eg. fíu, fíut), which has no cognates in any ...
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452 views

Why is the word “wherefore” not “whatfore” and the word “therefore” not “thatfore” and related anomalies

There is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwar (where) + *furi (for/fore) which means something very similar to "for ...
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569 views

Comparative markers coming from low degree markers (“attenuatives”)? (List such languages.)

Which languages have a marker of the comparative degree of adjectives that coincides with a marker of a low degree? ...or which has evolved from such a low degree marker? (A message asking for the ...
5
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1answer
100 views

Mechanism(s) as to how the pronunciations of「也」and its Old Chinese “homophones”/phonetically-derivative glyphs drifted to the modern range of sounds?

In my question https://chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/47777/meaning-of-early-written-versions-of-%E5%9C%B0-and-etymology, I learned that the modern character for "earth, ground"「地」(dì) ...
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152 views

Are L. arvix and L. aries cognates?

arvix sacrificial ram aries From a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "jump, spring," cognate with Old High German irah (“ram”), Old Irish heirp (“kid”), Ancient Greek ἔριφος, Armienian ...
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95 views

Etymology of initial “g-” in Sicilian “giurana” (frog)

Most Romance words for "frog" derive from Latin rana (e.g. es. rana, it. rana, pt. rã. See also va. renoc ("toad")). However, an unexpected initial g- appears in the cognates of several Gallo-: fr. ...
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123 views

Relation between keltoi and galatai?

The ancient Greeks used both words and appeared to have originated both. The first form appears first in 517BC by Hecateus of Milietus. The word is still known in the 12th century AD where it's used ...
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307 views

What is the etymology of “Tarim” as in “Tarim Basin” and does it relate to Tocharian?

I was trying to obtain a proper etymology for the name "Tarim" and found it rather difficult. The Wiktionary page only lists the modern Turkish word tarım meaning agriculture, so was the Wikipedia ...
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105 views

Origin of Italian plurals

Some sources say that italian plurals come from the nominative case, so "italiano" has the plural "italiani", and "italiana" has the plural "italiane". However ...
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145 views

Why does “also” in German and in English denote different things?

There are some words in the German language that may seem to be familiar to a native English speaker, but in the end, it turns out that they are so-called "false friends" and have different meanings. ...
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121 views

Languages where smells are heard

In Russian, one can use the verb слышать ([ˈslɨʂətʲ], "hear") with both sounds and smells, though it's more common to use чувствовать ([ˈt͡ɕustvəvətʲ], "feel") for smells. Example from Wiktionary: ...
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93 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 ...
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118 views

PIE root *trep-: 'trepidation' vs 'trope'

[Etymonline for trepidation (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (1) "to shake, tremble" ... , related to * trem- (see tremble (v.)). [Etymonline for trope (n.) :] ... from PIE * trep- (2) "to ...
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159 views

Etymology of Ancient Greek deictic -ī

In Ancient Greek, a deictic particle -ī can be attached to demonstratives to strengthen the "this here" meaning: e.g. houtos "this one", houtosī "this one right here". What is the origin of this -ī? ...
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2answers
502 views

Is Mongolian “шинэ” / “ᠰᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ”, meaning “new”, a borrowing of Chinese “新”?

I've noticed that the Mongolian word for "new" is "шинэ" (or in traditional script, "ᠰᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ"). Since final vowels are not pronouned it's spoken as "shin". The Han character for "new", "新" is also ...
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230 views

Native Urdu Speakers saying “I'll I'll” when speaking English

I have a number of Indian colleagues who are fluent in English (but Natively spoke Urdu or Hindi) and I've noticed a trend to stutter the word "I'll" when they speak it, as in: I'll I'll look into ...
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What is the etymology of Wanona (said to be the name of Kullervo's sister meaning “weeping”)?

Tolkien coined the name Wanōna (also Welinōre, Wanōra, Oanōra) in his Story of Kullervo. It's totally possible they belong to Tolkien's constructed languages. But I think the etymology is still ...
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62 views

Distinction between Chemistry and Alchemy in Arabic and Farsi languages

According to Wikipedia, in Europe the semantic distinction between the rational science of chimia and the occult alchimia arose in the early 18th century. So it seems like there was a need to separate ...
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43 views

Resources for Indonesian/Austronesian etymology

I'm looking for online resources for Austronesian languages etymology. KBBI doesn't provide any etymology, which is astonishing for such a notable and official dictionary. The only source I've found ...
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Did the word circle come from the PIE word *kr-kr, which was said to be the Proto-Indo-European word for circular?

When I was reading on Wiktionary, I found something interesting. The word for circle was traced back to a Greek word which was said to be "of Pre-Greek origin". However, I read about the word carcer, ...
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70 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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151 views

What is the etymology of Tibetan ཁང་ [khang]?

I've just discovered that ཁང་ [Wylie: khang], the Tibetan word for 'building' used as a part in many everyday vocabulary items sounds strangely familiar to the word of the same meaning in Farsi, which ...
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56 views

Is the ellipsis behind 'such as' grammatically correct?

[OED] 7. a. With correlative as pron. (see AS conj. 17), Middle English also as that, taking the place of Old English swelce, swá. such as = Of the kind or degree that; the kind of (person or ...
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240 views

The origin of “ba” particle

In French, Italian there is a particle ba(h) which is used for exclamation of contempt, excitement, surprise etc. There's pretty similar particle բա in Armenian which is used for expressing amusent as ...
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887 views

'penance' vs 'penitence'

penance (n.) [←] late 13c., "religious discipline or self-mortification as a token of repentance and as atonement for some sin," from Anglo-French penaunce, Old French peneance (12c.), from ...
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153 views

'dispose' vs 'dispose of' & « disposer » vs « disposer de »

[Source:] [D1.] dispose (v.) - (a) to arrange in order; (b) to lean toward or incline (typically used as a past participle). ... [D2.] dispose of (phrasal v.) - (a) to throw away or discard; (b) to ...
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153 views

Are the two Lao (and Isan) words for “to be”, “ເປັນ” (pen) and “ແມ່ນ” (maen), etymologically related?

I've just learned that Lao has two words for "to be", that are mostly interchangeable: ເປັນ (pen) ແມ່ນ (maen) They both begin with a labial, have an "e-like" vowel, and end "n". I think it's pretty ...
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415 views

Why do only a few English demonyms have a -man suffix?

Several English demonyms (Englishman) are compound words ending in -man, but most are not (Greek). The vast majority of -man demonyms refer to England and close neighbors: Frenchman, Irishman, ...
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242 views

Are the Russian уж (a kind of snake) and узко (narrow) related?

According to Mallory we have the following PIE words (in this notation, g = palatal/plain ġ=plain/uvular): a̯enghu̯is snake (> уж) a̯enĝhus narrow (> узко) a̯enĝhnos fear, constriction (> ужас) ...
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92 views

Are euphemisms more likely to be translated when imported into another language?

When euphemisms enter another language, are the words making up the euphemism more likely to be translated to that language compared to non-euphemisms? I suspect that people translate words in the ...
2
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1answer
327 views

Origin of *dhvor-

Formerly as I remember I saw somewhere *dhvor- (door, gate, yard, court) connected with the root *vert- (turn) in PIE. This is quite realistic and can be supported with similar Russian words створка (...
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61 views

How were “bratrъ/bratъ” and “sestra” formed in PSl?

The PIE r-stem words seem to have lost the final -r in PSl: OCS mati, dъšti, and how some words which had -r (and -l) in final position preserve this consonant in the middle of words in slavic?
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35 views

Connection between “wiseguy” and the Cantonese slang 古惑仔

"Wiseguy" can mean a made man in the mafia or a smart ass who acts like they are smarter than others. What I find interesting is that the Cantonese/Chinese slang term 古惑仔(Gu Wac Zai) has ...
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How do compound verbs develop?

There's a very interesting (to me at least) example of compound verbs, in this wiki page on Serial Verbs: सत्तू खा लिया sattū khā liyā parched.grain eat take.pfv "...
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79 views

Germanic words together with Romance words

Do combinations of words of Germanic origin with words of Latin origin have any influence on the level or register of language? I can think of examples like: exquisite work, unwavering resolution, ...
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131 views

Are Russian words пять (five), пясть (fist), пятка (heel) related? What about English “fist”?

I wonder whether the PIE word for five in fact meant "fist", in other words, when people counted, they closed their fingers and when they obtained the closed fist, it was "five"? ...
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78 views

What is the etymological difference bewteen ب ر ك and ص ل و‎ roots?

The roots ب ر ك (BRK) and ص ل و‎ (ṢLW) shares a common meaning related to the act of blessing. Is the first one related to the knees, while the later one is rather connected to the notion of eulogy? (...
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98 views

What are the descendants of the PIE suffix “-n̥kʷos” in the Czech language if there are any?

Me and my friend would like to know whether there is any PIE suffix "-n̥kʷos" descendats in the czech language, we feel like "-uha" in "ostruha" could be it, in other ...
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56 views

Case Study: Classifying the origin of a word

Let's say we have a Country 'A' that spoke a Language 'A'. In Language 'A' (LA) they had the word "Shamish" (IPA: /ʃamɪʃ/) A Language 'X' (LX) is gaining ground in Country 'A' and they have ...
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29 views

Origin of term “Pudlink”

My grandfather used to use the term “pudlink” (POOD-link) as an endearing term for a baby. He was Slovak, and also spoke Czech (my grandmother is Czech, but doesn’t know the origin of the term). Where ...
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101 views

Did Old English have a similar adverb phrase or interjection like “of course”?

I'm writing a story that heavily uses archaic or unusual English words, with a focus of non-Latin, non-French and non-Anglo-Norman derived words and how English might work without them. I found very ...
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91 views

Origin of “will” in Germanic, wouldn't it be subjunctive?

Small print: This is language specific about English, but tangential to Germanic to a certain degree that is likely out of ELU's scope. . As a follow-up to this Q and several ones like it about the ...
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70 views

Did a single word derived from “de fenestra” exist in European languages prior to the Defenestration of Prague?

Many European languages have a single word derived from the Latin prepositional phrase de fenestra (“out from a window” or “down from a window”) meaning “the act of throwing someone out a window.” ...
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64 views

Understanding the etymology of Persian “farāmoş”, to forget

I'm having a hard time understanding the etymology of the Persian verb farâmuš kardan, meaning to forget in Persian. The infnitive kardan is often used to make verbs from nouns and adjectives, so for ...
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106 views

Algorithm for identifying “secondary roots”

In machine learning on text data (aka natural language processing), it's common to apply a stemming or lemmatization algorithm to the text. However, sometimes you want to go a step further. For ...
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32 views

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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92 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 ...
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77 views

Idiomatic modifiers that have completely different impact on the same word

I'm thinking about similarly-formed idiomatic constructs like this cluster: 'Put up' - (#1) to allow someone to reside, usually in an ad-hoc temporary manner ('He put up John and I put up Mike; it ...