Etymology

January 22, 2013

library

By Koseli. Beautiful library via Our Heat is Gospel.

In the mood for a little English lesson? This motion piece answers why there is a “b” in the word doubt.

Any other etymology lovers out there? I love learning how words and language evolve and change.

P.S. — A linguistics book from 1938.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Valerie J. January 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

Count me in! I’m French, raised with 2 secondary languages and later learned English (which now replaced my 3rd language, Spanish, in which I am no longer proficient ) and I am always amazed at the connections between words, their origins, etc. The dictionary was my favorite book growing up ( a bit sad maybe). My husband is always amused by my excitement when I discover something new about a word. I wish I was as interested in grammar which has always been a weakness of mine.

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2 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:37 am

It is amazing. Language is so beautiful and fascinating. That’s amazing that you speak so many!

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3 Susan January 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

So informative. Yeah, I learned something new today!

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4 Shannon { A Mom's Year } January 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

That actually gave me chills! Dorky English major that I am. I love etymology, too. Whenever my kids ask me what a word means, I make them listen to the word’s history, too. Thank you for sharing the video!

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5 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:37 am

English major here too, Shannon! Word nerds unite without shame. :)

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6 Brandy January 22, 2013 at 9:39 am

Love this so much! Hooray for words! Since you brought of the topic of word history tracking, does anyone know why the word “pleasant” might be used to indicate the intent of the following sentences:

“. . .Llyn Mwyngil, what does it mean in English?”
“Well. . .the lake in the pleasant place. Pleasant retreat. Whatever.”
“The pleasant lake,” Will said. “No wonder I fell. The pleasant lake.”
“Yes, you could put it that way, loosely, I suppose.”

excerpt from The Grey King by Susan Cooper. I’ve been wondering about this casually for almost a decade, and never yet found anyone with an answer. What do you all think?

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7 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:38 am

Oh gosh, I wish I knew, Brandy. Anyone else know?

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8 Rebecca January 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

Loved this video!! Very interesting! Thanks for sharing and giving me a little lesson for the day.

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9 Carter Higgins January 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Love! Linguistics major in undergrad here. My dad always called it linguini.

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10 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:38 am

Ha! That’s amazing. I hope you never corrected him.

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11 Danielle January 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Love this! I’m a big fan of etymology and am always picking up books on the subject. I love learning about the differences in speech patterns across our country, too. Did you know that Michigan is the only state that calls the night before Halloween Devil’s Night? kooky! And you might’ve just thought we were the weirdos (well, along with the rest of the Midwest) that say ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’.

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12 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

That’s so interesting. I love usage too! One of my favorite classes in college focused on the difference between dialects, slang, accents, etc. It was so helpful to understand.

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13 Jenni Bailey January 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

LOVE IT. The best class I ever took in college, though everyone laughs when I say it, was History of the English Language. Such an eye opener. Not only did it enhance my appreciation of English words but it also made it easier to “decode” other languages – so that now when I hear someone speaking spanish, which is common here in Florida, I can usually piece together enough of what they are trying to say by breaking it down to the commonest root. Plus, I now feel okay using words like “commonest.” ;)

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14 Erin January 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Jenni, I suspect we shard a university, and possibly a professor. I also loved the same course–I never hear Benjamin Briton’s pieces without thinking of it.

I’m an editor by profession–today a cooking magazine should arrive for me to proof–and discovering the secret history of words is not only thrilling to me, but also very practical. There are times when I’m editing a manuscript, particularly in academia, that calls for me to pull the OED. If it weren’t available electronically through my library system, I might be tempted to own the legendary hundreds of volumes it constitutes. Just for some nice bedtime reading. :)

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15 Erin January 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm

And of course, by “shard,” I mean to speak of a tiny sliver of something larger. I didn’t actually put a typo in there and mean “shared.” ;)

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16 Jillian in Italy January 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm

My etymological dictionary is one of my most beloved (and used) books. I have a degree in languages and linguistics and am absolutely enthralled with language and grammatical structures.

My kids are being brought up with 4 languages and they always find it fascinating to compare words in different languages and look up where they originated.

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17 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay January 22, 2013 at 2:48 pm

One of my very favorite things is when Anatoly Liberman is a guest on Minnesota Public Radio. They pick a topic about words and people call in with questions. Delightful! At least for this geek.

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18 Janis January 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Read “Made in America” by Bill Bryson. Excellent read about how American English evolved.

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19 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

Oh great tip! Will read.

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20 Kristen E January 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

Yes yes yes! I love both etymology and grammar. :) I’m always explaining to my nephews where words have come from and what some of our idioms mean. They just roll their eyes, of course. ;)

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21 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

Ha ha. I’m a grammar geek too though I’m rusty and need to study my Chicago Manual of Style to brush up on my skills. Grammar gives you such a deep appreciation for word derivation.

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22 Abbey January 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm

One of my favorite classes in college was my etymology class. Our textbook? The Dictionary. I’d take it again and again…

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23 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

Awesome. I totally read the dictionary for fun growing up. Nerd alert. :)

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24 Andie January 25, 2013 at 10:39 am

Yes! And you totally have to read The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth–you’ll absolutely love it!

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25 Koseli January 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

Oh thanks Andie! I’ll get it from the library as soon as I’m back in Brooklyn. Sounds like my kind of book.

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26 Dom January 28, 2013 at 12:25 am

Okay this post was amazing! I never even knew what etymology was but now I’m hooked

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27 Phillip Chipping January 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

love it! I’m a huge fan of etymology, and the way this is presented is fantastic! Thanks for sharing. :)

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