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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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22
votes
3answers
2k views

Connection between right (opposite of left) and right (legal term)?

Does anyone know of a connection, or some sort of established historical/etymological explanation why in a few languages, "the opposite of left" and "legal term" are the same or seemingly related ...
9
votes
2answers
780 views

Are "txt-speak" and "emoticons" examples of normal language evolution?

"txt-speak" appeared because of the need to fit a communication into 160 characters. "Emoticons" appeared due to the need to convey an emotional context with your message so that it is read correctly ...
3
votes
1answer
386 views

What explains the sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- ?

abridge (v.) [...] from Old French abregier "abridge, diminish, shorten," from Late Latin abbreviare "make short" (see abbreviate). The sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- is ...
25
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4answers
28k views

What are the historical origins of terms for north, south, east and west?

In the course of researching the etymology of the word "Australia", I was trying to find the Latin words for north and south (the cardinal directions). I found some websites that translate north as "...
13
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1answer
911 views

Why does "half" not follow the pattern of ordinal numbers across languages?

The cardinal "a half" is unrelated to "two", whereas "a third", "a quarter" (and certainly "a fourth"), etc. are related to "three", "four", etc. This seems to be true in other languages, too, in ...
5
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6answers
803 views

German (-stell-) and Slavic (-stav-) languages: who was first?

I have been wondering about the following close parallel between German (I'm not aware of any other Germanic language for which this would hold) and Czech in particular: postavit ~ stellen (to place ...
15
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2answers
78k views

The Origin of the Word 'God'

I originally posted this a while ago on my blog, but someone recently suggested that I pose it as a question here. A brief Wikipedia search on the origin of the word ‘god’ reveals the following: ...
12
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4answers
13k views

Using the word "dream" as hope for the future across languages

Many languages seem to use the same word for "dream" (psychological phenomenon) and "dream" (hope for the future). Quick scanning on Wiktionary gives the list: Germanic languages: Danish (drøm), ...
15
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3answers
16k views

Is there any link between the word 'eight' and the word 'night'?

When writing a text message with my phone, I often write "good n8" to say good night. Yet, I notice that this could also work in many other languages, or if not, it's pretty close. For ...
6
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3answers
297 views

Comparing writing systems by ease of encoding/decoding information

Considering the variety of systems of writing, the ease with which someone can receive written information in one system of writing is not precisely identical to that of any other, and I am curious to ...
10
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3answers
4k views

What is the function of "-ter" in words "laughter" and "daughter"?

The word "laugh" exists in English, but not "*daugh", even though both have a -ter word and their forms are similar. I can't find the function of the morpheme "-ter" here,...
5
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1answer
324 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
3
votes
2answers
391 views

Why does Sankr. नक्ति (nákti) not show Satemization

Did Sanskrit नक्ति (nákti) "night", PIE *nókʷts, not participate in the kentum-satem split? Why? Is it a loan? There are at least two synonyms, if that makes any difference. I have no actual reason ...
3
votes
2answers
357 views

Why is six and seven so similar in many languages?

Six (English) = Sechs (German) = Seis (Spanish) = Shesh (Hebrew) = Sita (Arabic) = Shest (Russian) Seven = Sieben = Siete = Sheva = Sabaa (~= Sem in Russian). So Germanic, Latin, Sematic and perhaps ...
10
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6answers
20k views

Online etymology dictionary for Latin

Is there an etymology dictionary for Latin that is available on the Internet? For example, I know of http://etymonline.com/, which is a great resource for English etymology, but I have not been able ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Is Slavic [zima] ("winter") derived from "snow"?

I was wondering why Thai word for "snow" was sounding similar to Slavic word for "winter": Thai: หิมะ [hì-má] "snow" Ukrainian: зима [ˈzɪ-mə] "winter" Polish: zima [ˈʑi-ma] "winter" Also, "...
16
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4answers
2k views

Are there languages in which "coffee" is not a cognate of a root containing k/q and f/h/w?

Is there a language, in which the word for "coffee" does not contain the sounds k/q and f/h/v, i.e. the word has a different root?
6
votes
4answers
3k views

How did 'cocodrilo' originate from 'crocodile'?

The English word crocodile seems to originate from the Latin crocodīlus and Ancient Greek κροκόδιλος. Indeed it has ended up very similar in several modern languages: German (Krokodile), Russian (...
14
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6answers
2k views

Is "Kent" in Tashkent of Turkic origin or Indo-European?

In Turkish there is this word Kent which means city. Some Turkic city names have this as a suffix, like Başkent and Tashkent. In Azerbaijani the same word, with the spelling of Kənd (Kand) means ...
9
votes
1answer
210 views

Diachronic sources of negators

What are some examples of negators that have a known (or even conjectured) etymology? What kinds of non-negative meanings can develop into negative meanings? The etymologizable negators I know of all ...
9
votes
2answers
456 views

Do distantly related languages have a lower incidence of false friends?

Are false friends less common between distantly related languages compared to closely related languages? If so, is it merely because there's fewer words that sound similar, or is it also that when ...
9
votes
2answers
359 views

What linguistic impact, if any, has the the Roman three name naming system left on modern Romance and European languages?

The ancient Romans had a three name system (tria nomina): praenomen, the birth/given name; the nomen, like a family name but marking the person as belonging to a specific gens; and the cognomen, of ...
6
votes
2answers
180 views

Why do some (usually, first ones) ordinal numbers seem completely different from corresponding cardinals?

I've noticed that in some (all? most?) languages, ordinal for 1 and 2 are completely different (i.e., not derived) from corresponding cardinals: English One/Two/Three vs First/Second/Third is a bad ...
4
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5answers
561 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 ...
0
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1answer
377 views

Parallels between h₂ and t in PIE and Nostratic, what is the explanation?

In Afro-Asiatic we have the feminine ending -a which has the following evolution history: -a < -aha < -at < et where ha is a glottal fricative. In IE (for instance, in Russian, Greek, Latin) ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Are English 'butterfly', German 'Butterfliege' and Dutch 'botervlieg' cognates?

Yesterday the question was raised why many languages do not share a root for 'butterfly'. When we look at the etymology of the English word, parallels are drawn to Dutch and German forms (OED): OE ...
13
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3answers
3k views

Is there a name for the type of word that the word, “scarecrow,” is? (a transitive verb conjoined with its object)

The English word, “scarecrow,” spontaneously came to mind the other day, and I realized just how similar this word is to other words and phrases in other languages. For example, there are many ...
12
votes
2answers
420 views

What is the reasoning behind the selection of the IPA symbols?

There are many weird characters in IPA, like Glottal Stop symbol ʔ for example. Why these characters? Is there any reason for selecting them, or was their selection just arbitrary?
7
votes
1answer
515 views

Why are the plural and singular first person forms of the verb "go" so different in the Romance languages?

In many Romance languages, the first person plural and singular forms are completely different: French (aller): je vais, nous allons Italian (andare): io vado, noi andiamo Catalan (anar): jo vaig, ...
6
votes
0answers
572 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
votes
2answers
977 views

How does the word "thunder" get the letter "d"?

thunder O.E. þunor, from P.Gmc. thunraz (cf. O.N. þorr, O.Fris. thuner, M.Du. donre, Du. donder, O.H.G. donar, Ger. Donner "thunder"), from PIE (s)tene- "to resound, thunder" (cf. Skt. tanayitnuh "...
5
votes
2answers
802 views

Does "and" come from the PIE word for "and"?

From the etymology of and: Old English and, ond, originally meaning "thereupon, next," from Proto-Germanic *unda (cf. Old Saxon endi, Old Frisian anda, Middle Dutch ende, Old High German enti, ...
5
votes
3answers
492 views

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)?

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)? BACKGROUND: I suggested to a forum of linguists that a certain Semitic word (...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Has the word ending *dition any independent meaning?

Does the term 'dition' has any meaning by itself or where does it derive from? It could be found for example in many English words, like edition, addition, expedition or extradition.
4
votes
1answer
486 views

Is /ɡ/ Germanic and /dʒ/ French in English ge-/gi- words?

I've recently noticed that in English words starting with "ge-" or "gi-", when the "g" is pronounced /ɡ/, they tend to be etymologically Germanic, while the words where the "g" is pronounced /dʒ/ tend ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Online etymology dictionary for English (more explanatory than Etymonline and OED)

Would you please recommend etymology dictionaries for English that MUST be available online (either for free or purchase), BUT subject to the following conditions? 1. Many of the recommendations in ...
2
votes
2answers
225 views

Hebrew to English connection through linguistics?

On the website, "Edenics- Where Language Began" it is mentioned that the Hebrew word 'zinoot'(fornication) a Zayin-mem word have influenced the English sin". Since the z and the s are closely ...
2
votes
2answers
95 views

In what sense are terms for "white/shining" and for "swamp/marsh" "semantically connected" in many languages?

Although a closed question, reading THIS we find a link to Wictionary with the text: From Proto-Albanian *baltā (“marsh”), hypothetically from a Proto-Indo-European *bʰolHto- (“white > marsh”), a ...
1
vote
1answer
268 views

Given that so many Indo-European peoples called themselves "Veneti" or the like, can we conclude that it was the endonym of PIE people as well?

For instance: Veneti (Gaul) - Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneti_(Gaul)) Vistula Veneti - Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vistula_Veneti) Adriatic Veneti - Wikipedia (https://...
0
votes
2answers
632 views

How did the PIE root 'dek-' evolve into the Greek 'dokein' to appear, seem, think' ?

dek- To take, accept. ... [2.] b. dogma, dogmatic; chionodoxa, Docetism, doxology, heterodox, orthodox, paradox, from Greek dokein, to appear, seem, think (< "to cause to accept or be ...
0
votes
1answer
158 views

Could the latin word terrere be related to the Hebrew word תִּירָא (tira)?

The English word "terror" is derived from the Latin "terrere", meaning "frighten". I noticed in reading a passage in Isaiah the Hebrew equivalent of "don't be afraid" which is אַל־תִּירָא ('al tira' - ...
13
votes
1answer
446 views

Relations between 'knee' and 'generation'

Recently, a question was asked about the possibility of the words knee and generation being cognates. Unfortunately, that question is rather unclear, so I'm asking this as a separate post. The words ...
12
votes
2answers
736 views

How do linguists find the etymology?

I was wondering, what is the method (or the methods) that linguists adopt to understand and know the etymology of a word? Are these methods reliable and in what measure? The knowledge I have on the ...
9
votes
1answer
353 views

Etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings

I was wondering, what the etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings -are, -ere and -ire was. I assume they are Indo-European, but I haven't found any information about it.
8
votes
3answers
7k views

Hebrew "shemen" versus Latin "semen"

Is the etymology of the word "semen" (eng. "seed") in Latin connected to the hebrew word שֶׁמֶן "shemen" (eng. "ointment")? I've just read a peculiar article that attempted to make this connection: ...
7
votes
5answers
5k views

Linguistic or etymological relationship between the words "Sabbath" and "seven"

The words for "Sabbath" and "seven" seem similar in both Hebrew and Aramaic. Is there an etymological relationship between them? Sabbath (Shabbat), שַׁבָּת, is Strong's H7676. It is spelled shin-bet-...
6
votes
3answers
709 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' ...
5
votes
3answers
960 views

Is the similarity between the Arabic word Gayyid and the English word Good due to a borrowing?

Why is the Arabic word جید (jayyid) which is pronounced gayyid in Egypt and means good, so similar to the word good or the German word gut? Is it a borrowing? (since the word for good is very ...
4
votes
1answer
235 views

Etymology of Latin suffix -ālis

What is the etymology of the Latin suffix "-ālis" (and related forms like "-āris") as in "nātūrālis"? Do we know any corresponding suffix in other Indo-European languages?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

In which languages does "right" mean both a direction and "correct" (or another positive meaning)? [duplicate]

In Islam right direction symbolize good things and I realize that phenomenon in some languages (English, Russian). Are there other languages like this and where does this phenomenon come from?