Author Topic: Favourite etymologies  (Read 345 times)

Offline FlatAssembler

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Favourite etymologies
« on: August 10, 2017, 02:33:34 PM »
What's your favourite etymology? I have got several of them, everyone laughs when I tell them, but they are most likely true. One is the Proto-Indo-European word for catfish, *skwolos (whence English "whale"), being derived from *skwel (to shine), because catfish doesn't have scales and its skin "shines". One is the Croatian word for red, "crven", derived from the Proto-Slavic word for worm, because they used to make the red colour from worms. The last one of mine is the word "gymnasium", coming from the Greek word for "naked", "gymnos", because the Spartans used to exercise a lot in their schools, and Ancient Greeks exercised naked. Your etymology doesn't have to be mainstream, but it has to be plausible. For example, supposed radical mistranslations aren't plausible.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Favourite etymologies
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 03:06:25 PM »
I like bench/bank, because they come from the same root originally but took different paths. Pairs (or triplets, if you can find them) of wandering words like that are fun.
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Favourite etymologies
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 02:17:49 AM »
I don't think such things are interesting to laymen, but OK.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Favourite etymologies
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2017, 04:50:32 PM »
Another fun one I came across just recently is Spanish trabajar ('to work') originally coming from the meaning 'to torture':
http://dle.rae.es/?id=aBpHmn0
Quote
Del lat. vulg. *tripaliāre 'torturar', der. del lat. tardío tripalium 'instrumento de tortura compuesto de tres maderos'.
"From Vulgar Latin *tripaliāre 'torture', derived from late Latin tripalium 'torture device made of three beams of wood"

(As for the others, I think they should be interesting because it reveals such a large network of related languages throughout so much of history, but you're right that many people don't know about that enough to be interested.)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 04:52:16 PM by Daniel »
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