42 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 "...
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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 ...
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  • 22.6k
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 ...
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  • 22.6k
26 votes

Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

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 ...
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  • 506
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) ...
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23 votes

Ei (egg in German) and eye; Auge (eye in German) and egg

New High German (NHG) Auge and English eye are believed to descend from Proto-Germanic *augan- and Proto-Indo-European *ōkū-. NHG Ei and English egg are from PG *ajjam- and PIE *ōiom. These words ...
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  • 22.6k
22 votes

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

"Eight" comes from Proto-Indo-European oḱtou and "night" comes from nokʷts, so there is some similarity in the historically earlier forms. Due to ordinary sound changes into Italic and Germanic, you ...
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  • 67.7k
21 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 ...
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  • 52k
19 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 ...
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  • 5,543
19 votes
Accepted

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.
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  • 22.6k
19 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 ...
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  • 67.7k
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 ...
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  • 7,838
18 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 ...
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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 = ...
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  • 52k
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 ...
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  • 52k
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 ...
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  • 22.6k
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 ...
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  • 22.6k
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 ...
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  • 52k
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 ...
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  • 52k
15 votes
Accepted

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

In the monumental Old Turkic Dictionary ("Древнетюркский словарь", Наука, Л., 1969) it is written that Kent/Kənd is really of the Sogdian origin. The dictionary reflects the words found in the Turkic ...
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  • 15.7k
15 votes

Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

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 ...
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  • 251
14 votes
Accepted

r in Romance names of London

Besides the fact that Londres and so on originate from Latin Londinium, I unfortunately have not been able to find any dictionary entry that explains the etymology of this word and the sound changes ...
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  • 16.6k
14 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 ...
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  • 1,377
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, ...
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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. ...
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  • 22.6k
14 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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  • 1,843
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 ...
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  • 10.5k
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 ...
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  • 52k
13 votes
Accepted

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

Homonyms originate in basically one of two ways. Either they have different origins, and sound the same simply by coincidence - either a sound change resulted in two previously distinct words ...
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  • 1,494
13 votes

Are There Ancient Greek Words Descended From Sumerian?

Yes, a few: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Ancient_Greek_terms_derived_from_Sumerian They were mostly borrowed via Akkadian, and into other major classical languages of the Eastern ...
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