By Anatoly Liberman
Due to the fact I’ll be out of town at the stop of July, I was not positive I would be able to publish these “gleanings.” But the questions have been many, and I could answer some of them in advance of time.
Autumn: its etymology
Our correspondent miracles no matter whether the Latin phrase from which English, by means of French, has autumn, could be discovered with the identify of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the term autumnus, which was each an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to increase.” This verb’s excellent participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a prosperous season”). The Roman derivation, although not implausible, appears like a tribute to folk etymology. A far more serious conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic aud–ags “blessed” (in the linked languages, also “rich”). But, extra likely, Latin autumnus goes back again to Etruscan. The major argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the identify of a seasonal deity (or so it would seem), about whom very little is identified aside from the tale of his seduction, in the condition of an previous girl, of Pomona, as told by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, may perhaps be a Latinized form of an Etruscan name. A definite summary about autumnus is rarely doable, even although some sources, although tracing this word to Etruscan, insert “without question.” The Egyptian Autun was a generation god and the god of the placing sunshine, so that his relationship with autumn is remote at finest. Nor do we have any evidence that Autun experienced a cult in Ancient Rome. Anything is so uncertain right here that the origin of autumnus need to desires keep on being unidentified. In my belief, the Egyptian speculation holds out tiny promise.
The origin of so extended
I been given an fascinating letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so very long:
“It appears the kind of expression that should really have derived from some fuller social nicety, these kinds of as I regret that it will be so lengthy just before we meet once more or the like, but no 1 has proposed a obvious antecedent. An oddity is its sudden visual appeal in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings prior to Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (such as the title) in the 1860-1861 edition of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, offer an antedating to the OED citations: so, superior bye, so extensive in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Every month Magazine 5, February 1835, p. 105 offered on Google Guides). Provided the deficiency of a fuller antecedent, recommendations as to its origin all suggest a borrowing from a different language. Does this seem to be acceptable to you?”
Mr. Nance was variety more than enough to append two posts (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so very long, both equally of which I had in my folders but have not reread given that 2004 and 2005, when I identified and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is particularly detailed. My databases has only one far more very small comment on so extended by Frank Penny: “About 20 many years back I was informed that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so household, and should really be composed so alongside or so ’long, indicating that the human being applying the expression ought to go his way” (Notes and Queries, Sequence 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The group so house does transform up in the Diary more than when, but no quotation I could come across appears to be like a method. Possibly Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any situation, so long appears to be like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that this kind of a preferred phrase should have remained dormant in texts for virtually two generations.
Be that as it may perhaps, I concur with Mr. Nance that a method of this style possibly arose in civil discussion. The numerous attempts to obtain a international resource for it have minor conviction. Norwegian does have an almost equivalent phrase, but, considering that its antecedents are unfamiliar, it may have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a favourite transform of speech by old etymologists) that so very long is in truth a curtailed edition of a after additional comprehensible parting formula, unless of course it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may well have been brought to the New Entire world from England or Scotland and later abbreviated and reinterpreted.
“Heavy rain” in languages other than English
Once I wrote a put up titled “When it rains, it does not always pour.” There I pointed out quite a few German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and dogs, and, alternatively than recycling that text, will refer our outdated correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.
Ukraine and Baltic area names
The remark on this make a difference was welcome. In my response, I desired not to communicate about the matters alien to me, but I puzzled whether or not the Latvian position identify could be of Slavic origin. That is why I reported cautiously: “If this is a native Latvian word…” The concern, as I recognize, continues to be unanswered, but the suggestion is tempting. And sure, of class, Serb/Croat Krajna is an precise counterpart of Ukraina, only without a prefix. In Russian, stress falls on i in Ukrainian, I assume, the very first a is pressured. The identical holds for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin mentioned ukrainskaia (feminine).
Slough, sloo, and the rest
Several many thanks to individuals who educated me about their pronunciation of slough “mire.” It was new to me that the surname Slough is pronounced in a different way in England and the United States. I also obtained a issue about the heritage of slew. The earlier tense of slay (Previous Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a extensive vowel), and this form made like scoh “shoe,” although the verb vacillated concerning the 6th and the 7th course. The point that slew and shoe have these types of dissimilar composed varieties is due to the vagaries of English spelling. Just one can imagine of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the similar vowel as slew. In addition, take into account Bruin and ruin, which appear deceptively like fruit, and incorporate maleoeuver for superior evaluate. A gentle spelling reform seems to be like a great notion, does not it?
The pronunciation of February
In a person of the letters I acquired, the author expresses her indignation that some people today insist on sounding the first r in February. Everyone, she asserts, claims Febyooary. In this kind of matters, everyone is a hazardous term (as we will also see from the next item). All of us are likely to assume that what we say is the only accurate norm. Phrases with the succession r…r tend to drop 1 of them. But library is additional generally pronounced with the two, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the inclination. February has adjusted its form quite a few occasions. As a result, extended back feverer (from Previous French) became feverel (possibly underneath the affect of averel “April”). In the more mature language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. Nonetheless effective the phonetic forces may possibly have been in influencing the pronunciation of February, of excellent significance was also the truth that the names of the months typically take place in enumeration. Without the initially r, January and February rhyme. A very similar problem is nicely-identified from the etymology of some numerals. Even though the pronunciation Febyooary is equally widespread on the two sides of the Atlantic and is regarded as regular throughout the English-talking planet, not “everybody” has acknowledged it. The consonant b in February is due to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).
Who as opposed to whom
Dialogue of these pronouns misplaced all curiosity prolonged in the past, since the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back again to outdated days. However I am not guaranteed that what I claimed about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and need to (or only can) it be who in both conditions? Despite the rebuke, I believe that even in Contemporary American English the girl who we frequented will not undergo if who is changed with whom. But, compared with my opponent, I confess that preferences differ.
Another dilemma I acquired was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a somewhat extended story, and I determined to dedicate a unique submit to it in the foreseeable long run.
PS. I notice that of the two questions questioned by our correspondent very last thirty day period only copacetic captivated some awareness (read Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?
Anatoly Liberman is the creator of Word Origins And How We Know Them as very well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on phrase origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each and every Wednesday. Mail your etymology problem to him treatment of [email protected] he’ll do his greatest to stay clear of responding with “origin unknown.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology content articles via email or RSS.
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