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46 votes
Accepted

Why is the word "war" in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

A why-question is almost unanswerable, the answer is "because it happened so". But there was a strong trigger for the replacement of bellum, namely the homophony with the word for "...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

Is there any evidence that the modern word for "bear" is an euphemism which replaced the original taboo word?

You are correct that whilst the argument that the original term was replaced is pretty strong, the arguments for taboo being the reason for its replacement is much less clear-cut. The first thing ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,784
31 votes

Why can "autarchy" be spelled with an "k" while other words not?

Actually, “autarky” and “autarchy” are two different words. The former means “self-sufficiency” and comes from the Greek arkein “to suffice”. The latter means “absolute rule” and comes from Greek ...
fdb's user avatar
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27 votes

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

In Korean, 오른쪽 wolunccwok "right (direction)" comes from 옳- wolh- "correct" + -은 -un (Attributive) + 쪽 ccwok "direction", literally meaning "the correct direction". Another word for "right side", 바른편 ...
MujjinGun's user avatar
  • 527
27 votes

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

First of all I would like to say that these words are not cognates; they are loanwords. The coffee plant is indigenous in the highlands of Ethiopia. It was transplanted to the Yemen in the 14th ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
27 votes

Derivation of the Indo-European lemma *bʰréh₂tēr ‘brother’

Lots (and I mean lots) of ink has been spent going over the possible etymology of this root – so far with no firm conclusions. A recent ‘current state of affairs’ treatment not only of *bʰréh₂tēr, but ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
25 votes

Relationship between Geneva and gin?

Gin is abbreviation from genever, originally Dutch, where the word means "juniper". The original drink was made from fermented juniper berries in the Netherlands. The word genever (juniper) ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
23 votes

What is the meaning of the number 2 in Proto-Indo European reconstructions? e.g. As in *tewtéh₂, meaning "people" or "tribe"

The numbers are specific to Proto-Indo-European. Scholars aren't sure how PIE was pronounced: after all, there are no native speakers around now, or records from the time. All of the sounds in ...
Draconis's user avatar
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22 votes

Ncuti Gatwa is, according to Wikipedia, pronounced /ˈʃuːti ˈɡætwɑː/ - where is the NC orthography derived from?

In Kinyarwanda, <nc> represents phonetic [n̥tʃʰ], at least in a somewhat-conventional style of IPA transcriptions. The [t] portion of the cluster is brief, and English speakers generally do not ...
user6726's user avatar
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21 votes

Which of 可爱/可愛い was exported to the other between Chinese and Japanese?

It must be remembered that in the Japanese language system, the lexeme's sound and the lexeme's spelling are much less correlated with each other than even in Chinese; the phenomenon of 訓読み kun'yomi ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,476
21 votes

Morphology vs Etymology

Etymology was the term used for both concepts up to the early 20th century. Then de Saussure postulated the incompatibility of diachrony and synchrony and nothing was ever the same again. Etymology ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
20 votes
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Do any languages use {woman} as the root for human?

In Arabic the word for “human being of either sex” is ʼinsān, from the same root as nisāʼ “women”. The usual word for “male human being” is rajul.
fdb's user avatar
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20 votes
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Are there clear exceptions to the alleged universality of "alphabet" as a term used in all languages

This is rather a bizarre claim to make in a widely published book, since it’s so easily disproven. There are lots of words for ‘alphabet’ that are different from the English term.   Alphabet, abjad, ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow". Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 7,976
18 votes

Origin of "boor"

It's just a coincidence. The Hebrew and Arabic words come from a root B-W-R "to lie fallow"; compare the Arabic verbs بَوَّرَ (bawwara) and بَارَ (baara). The metaphor of "thoughts = ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
18 votes
Accepted

Did Eureka lose its H?

Indeed, the Ancient Greek word εὕρηκα would be transcribed heurēka, with an H. The mark that looks like an apostrophe (the "rough breathing" or "spiritus asper") indicates the H ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
18 votes

Why is the word "war" in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

The basic meaning of the Germanic *wirr is “disorder, chaos” etc. The shift in meaning to “warfare” originated in Frankish and is attested since the 9th century in High German, English, but not ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
17 votes

Nations' names for themselves with foreign etymologies

Europe, West Asia, and North Africa is where I'm most familiar with things, so I'll largely restrict myself to those regions, but there is no shortage of peoples or nationalities whose endonym is (...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,784
16 votes

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

The main problem with these particular reconstructions is that the author of "etymonline" does not use diacritics. In fact, there is a very significant difference between *g and *ǵ (they develop ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
16 votes
Accepted

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

None, really. TL;DR: the tria nomina were dead before the empire was, so pre-Romance times. Long version: The tria nomina system is the most famous used in ancient Rome, but it wasn't by any means ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
16 votes

Reconstructed PIE grammar? Could we be able to speak in Proto-European?

Just a set of words, or is there also a reconstructed grammar letting us speak in Common Proto-European? Absolutely! In fact, one of the best ways to show that a language is Indo-European is through ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
15 votes

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

It exists in semitic languages. "ymn" has directional right as its radical sense in the Ethiopian semitic languages but is also commonly used for good news, e.g., Yemane is a common name there, like ...
Hasse1987's user avatar
  • 250
15 votes
Accepted

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

Very unlikely! While the phonetic similarities are real, the old Norse name of the weekday etymologically goes back to Frig's day, and not Freyja's day. The actual form of the Norse word is ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
  • 1,427
14 votes

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

Proto-Indo-European has gone through different stages of development historically, which represent higher levels of abstraction. In particular, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laryngeal_theory, ...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
14 votes

Why is "dyadic" the only word with the prefix "dy-" for "two"?

The prefix δυ- is from δύω “two” < IE *duō. The prefix δι- is from δίς “twice” < IE *dwi- (the /w/ is lost in Greek). Both are common in Greek. By the way: “division” is from Latin, not Greek. ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
14 votes
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Why aren't English "flame" and Croatian "plam" considered related?

English flame isn't a native English word, but a loan from Old French flame; Grimm's law doesn't apply, as it had long ceased to operate at that point. The initial f actually reflects PIE *bʰ, which ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 2,215
14 votes

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

This is a specific subtype of exocentric compound. An exocentric compound is one which doesn't inherit the type of either of its constituents: a scarecrow is neither a type of crow nor a type of ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 10.9k
14 votes
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Etymology of the Turkish word "rüzgâr"

The semantic shift seems to be: time > weather > wind For the first step compare Latin tempus “time” > French temps (“time, weather”). For the second compare German Wetter (“weather”) with ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
14 votes
Accepted

What do "titles" and "Beijing" stand for?

The word "titles" here is being used to mean books, which could be considered an instance of synecdoche (a type of metonymy where a part of a thing stands for the whole of the thing—a title ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
13 votes

How did 'cocodrilo' originate from 'crocodile'?

This is an example of metathesis, the rearranging of sounds or syllables in a word. It occurred in a number of words in the evolution from Latin to Spanish: Latin parabola > Old Spanish parabla > ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,122

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