pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

So apparently Russian хлеб khleb “bread” is a loanword from Germanic, from a the ancestor of English loaf and German Laib.

I don’t think I would connected those three words off-hand. (Even though the English and German words at least mean the same thing! Perhaps because the word Laib is fairly rare in my speech; I usually talk about ein Brot rather than ein Laib Brot.)

pne: Animated image of fingers tying a shoelace knot. (ianknot)

Sagen eigentlich Atheisten auch „tschüs“ (< ad Deus)?

Do atheists also say “good-bye” (“God be with you”)?

Les athées disent-ils aussi « adieu » (« à Dieu »)?


I’m guessing that the semantics have bleached so much that most people don’t realise the origin and simply use them as neutral parting phrases; probably much more so in English and German than in the Romance languages, where the pronunciation has also changed to obscure the origin (especially in German, where the phrase is based on Romance, rather than native, roots).

I’m also reminded about my post on using “dial (a number)” with dial-less phones as well as “drehen” (literally, “turn”) for the process of shooting a film (which often does not involve literal film any more, either).

pne: The coat of arms of the Swiss canton of Graubünden. (Graubünden)

There’s a region in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland called “Oberhalbstein” in German and “Surses”[*] in Romansh.

I had always presumed that that word was pronounced “,Ober'halbstein”… which would make it something like “Upper Half-Stone”. Even though that didn’t make much sense.

I just realised that it would make more sense if pronounced “,Oberhalb'stein”: that would be something like “Above the stone”, and would match the Romansh much more closely, too (which is from something like SUPRA SAXAM; feel free to correct me on the Latin).


Edit 2011-03-28: Having asked Miriam in Savognin, the "oberhalb 'Stein" pronunciation is indeed the correct one.


[*] Not to be confused with “Sursaissa”, which is “Obersaxen” in German (and, in practice, in English), which must be from the same root. The English Wikipedia article mentions a 765 form Supersaxa, which fits that theory. Here, though, the “-sax-” element was not interpreted by the Germans.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Apparently, ounce and inch both go back to Latin uncia “one-twelfth part” (of a pound, foot, etc.).

ounce was borrowed via French while inch came directly from Latin into Old English, which accounts for the different sound changes each word went through.

So those words are doublets just like skirt/shirt, fragile/frail, and so on.

Fun stuff!

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Language Hat has an entry on the origin of the word “commute” (as in “travel back and forth regularly between two places, especially home and work”):

Do you know why someone who regularly spends a certain amount of time traveling back and forth between home and work is called a "commuter"? It's because the first people so called were using commutation tickets, what we now call season tickets, that commuted ('changed,' from Latin commutare) a bunch of daily fares into a single payment. (If you check the foreign equivalents linked at the left of the Wikipedia article, you find that a number of languages use a word or phrase meaning 'pendulum migration.')

Never thought about that, but that makes sense.

Language is fun!

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pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
Philip Newton

June 2015

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