The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language

By Mark Forsyth

Have you learnt why…

…a loan is actually a loss of life pledge? …why weapons have ladies’ names? …why salt is expounded to soldier?

You’re approximately to determine…

The Etymologicon (e-t?-‘mä-lä-ji-kän) is:
*Witty (wi-te\): choked with smart humor

*Erudite (er-?-dit): exhibiting knowledge

*Ribald (ri-b?ld): Crude, offensive

The Etymologicon is a very unauthorized advisor to the unusual underpinnings of the English language. It explains: the way you get from “gruntled” to “disgruntled”; why you're totally correct to think that your meager wage slightly covers “money for salt”; how the largest chain of espresso outlets on this planet (hint: Seattle) connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what exactly the Rolling Stones need to do with gardening.

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That wouldn’t persuade someone of whatever. yet it’s attainable to teach that hundreds and hundreds of Latin phrases that commence with a difficult C have German and English equivalents that commence with an H. furthermore, you find that the remainder of the consonants are pretty well unchanged. So the Latin cornu interprets to previous German and English as horn. in the event you can convey a trend of adjustments, you then may be beautiful damned certain that the languages are similar. Let’s supply it a pass. So the English horn of hounds stands out as the cornu canum and the horn of 100 hounds stands out as the cornu centum canum and the hundred-headed hound with horns will be canis centum­ capitum cum cornibus. And the … good, you get the belief. The C to H shift that separates Latin from German is a part of a gaggle of shifts referred to as Grimm’s legislations, simply because they have been set out via Jacob Grimm, who was once one of many Brothers Grimm and who spent so much of his time accumulating fairy stories. There are different components to Grimm’s legislation; for instance, playstation in Latin flip to Fs in German (and accordingly in lots of English words), that's how paternal pisces grew to become fatherly fishes. It’s effortless to work out how this occurs when you think about the way it nonetheless is going on this present day. within the East finish of London, humans don’t pronounce their Hs and haven’t performed for no less than 100 years. the home of 100 hounds in Hackney will be stated the ’ouse of an ’undred ’ounds in ’Acne. Nor do East Enders pronounce the G on the finish of participles, so rather than buzzing and hawing, a Londoner could locate himself ’ummin’ and ’awin’. the key is that individuals do that regularly. not anyone listens to ’ip hop, or maybe hip ’op. You both pronounce your Hs otherwise you don’t. as soon as one H has long gone, all of them disappear. in fact, East London English remains to be English, for now. but when someone outfitted a tremendous wall round the East finish and didn’t allow a person in or out for a couple of hundred years, the captives might most likely make an increasing number of adjustments till their language turned completely incomprehensible to the remainder of the English-speaking international. Can that also occur? no one is sort of convinced how delivery and communique will have an effect on the splitting of languages. at the face of it, you’d count on accents to forestall constructing as everyone adjusted to the tyranny of tv, yet that doesn’t seem to be the case. within the US, for instance, there’s a specific thing known as the Northern towns Vowel Shift, wherein humans in Detroit and Buffalo have began saying block as black and cot as cat. That, in flip, has driven the a valid, in order that cat is reported as cee-at: so parents in Detroit could name the recognized children’s e-book The Cee-at within the Hee-at. And accessory alterations are unpredictable. In Jamaica they don’t drop their Hs, they choose them up. A Jamaican with a robust accessory will hadd han haitch honto hany notice that starts off with a vowel. In New Zealand E has develop into I, so that they have six. And although in Britain a medal is made up of steel, in the United States a medal is generally made from substance that’s stated medal. those legislation should not totally constant; yet they’re a whole lot higher than you could count on.

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