February 23, 2024


masterpiece of human

Monthly etymology gleanings for July 2014

By Anatoly Liberman

Given that I’ll be out of town at the stop of July, I was not confident I would be equipped to publish these “gleanings.” But the concerns have been numerous, and I could remedy some of them in advance of time.

Autumn: its etymology

Our correspondent miracles no matter if the Latin phrase from which English, by way of French, has autumn, could be recognized with the title 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 fantastic participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a wealthy season”). The Roman derivation, while not implausible, seems like a tribute to folk etymology. A a lot more severe conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic audags “blessed” (in the similar languages, also “rich”). But, far more most likely, Latin autumnus goes back to Etruscan. The principal argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the title of a seasonal deity (or so it would seem), about whom minor is identified in addition to the tale of his seduction, in the form of an aged female, of Pomona, as advised by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, may well be a Latinized sort of an Etruscan name. A definite conclusion about autumnus is hardly doable, even however some resources, while tracing this word to Etruscan, increase “without doubt.” The Egyptian Autun was a generation god and the god of the environment sun, so that his link with autumn is distant at very best. Nor do we have any evidence that Autun had a cult in Historic Rome. Anything is so unsure right here that the origin of autumnus need to requirements continue to be unfamiliar. In my viewpoint, the Egyptian hypothesis holds out little promise.

Vertumnus seducing Pomona in the shape of an old woman. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt "Floris" (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Photo by Jens Mohr, via Wikimedia Commons)
Vertumnus seducing Pomona in the condition of an outdated girl. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt “Floris” (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Photograph by Jens Mohr, by way of Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of so prolonged

I received an attention-grabbing letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so very long:

“It seems the sort of expression that should have derived from some fuller social nicety, this kind of as I regret that it will be so extensive right before we satisfy all over again or the like, but no just one has proposed a very clear antecedent. An oddity is its unexpected look in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings prior to Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (which include the title) in the 1860-1861 version of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, provide an antedating to the OED citations: so, superior bye, so extended in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Regular monthly Magazine 5, February 1835, p. 105 offered on Google Publications). Offered the lack of a fuller antecedent, recommendations as to its origin all suggest a borrowing from yet another language. Does this seem to be realistic to you?”

Mr. Nance was type adequate to append two articles or blog posts (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so extensive, both equally of which I had in my folders but have not reread considering the fact that 2004 and 2005, when I identified and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is particularly in depth. My databases has only a single more tiny remark on so lengthy by Frank Penny: “About twenty yrs ago I was knowledgeable that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so residence, and must be composed so alongside or so ’long, which means that the man or woman making use of the expression should go his way” (Notes and Queries, Collection 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The team so household does transform up in the Diary far more than once, but no quotation I could find looks like a formulation. Maybe Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any scenario, so extensive seems to be like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that these types of a popular phrase ought to have remained dormant in texts for virtually two hundreds of years.

Be that as it could, I agree with Mr. Nance that a formulation of this form likely arose in civil dialogue. The several attempts to uncover a overseas supply for it have minimal conviction. Norwegian does have an just about equivalent phrase, but, since its antecedents are unfamiliar, it could have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a favored change of speech by aged etymologists) that so lengthy is indeed a curtailed model of a as soon as extra comprehensible parting formula, until it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may have been introduced 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 post titled “When it rains, it does not automatically pour.” There I stated a lot of German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and canines, and, instead than recycling that textual content, will refer our old correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.

Ukraine and Baltic location names

The comment on this make any difference was welcome. In my response, I most popular not to communicate about the issues alien to me, but I wondered regardless of whether the Latvian area identify could be of Slavic origin. That is why I explained cautiously: “If this is a native Latvian word…” The question, as I comprehend, stays unanswered, but the recommendation is tempting. And yes, of class, Serb/Croat Krajna is an exact counterpart of Ukraina, only without the need of a prefix. In Russian, stress falls on i in Ukrainian, I consider, the 1st a is stressed. The very same retains for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin mentioned ukrainskaia (female).

Slough, sloo, and the rest

Several thanks to those people who knowledgeable 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 dilemma about the background of slew. The earlier tense of slay (Aged Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a long vowel), and this type produced like scoh “shoe,” although the verb vacillated involving the 6th and the 7th course. The fact that slew and shoe have these dissimilar published types is thanks to the vagaries of English spelling. One can imagine of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the exact vowel as slew. In addition, contemplate Bruin and ruin, which glimpse deceptively like fruit, and incorporate gentlemanoeuver for very good measure. A mild spelling reform appears to be like a superior strategy, doesn’t it?

The pronunciation of February

In one of the letters I obtained, the author expresses her indignation that some people insist on sounding the very first r in February. Everybody, she asserts, says Febyooary. In these kinds of issues, everybody is a dangerous term (as we will also see from the subsequent merchandise). All of us are inclined to assume that what we say is the only appropriate norm. Terms with the succession r…r have a tendency to lose just one of them. But library is much more typically pronounced with both, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the inclination. February has changed its form quite a few periods. Thus, extensive back feverer (from Old French) turned feverel (maybe below the affect of averel “April”). In the older language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. On the other hand impressive the phonetic forces may possibly have been in affecting the pronunciation of February, of excellent importance was also the reality that the names of the months generally take place in enumeration. Without the first r, January and February rhyme. A very similar problem is properly-known from the etymology of some numerals. Though the pronunciation Febyooary is similarly widespread on each sides of the Atlantic and is identified as common through the English-speaking environment, not “everybody” has acknowledged it. The consonant b in February is due to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).

Who compared to whom

Discussion of these pronouns lost all desire lengthy in the past, simply because the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go again to aged days. Nonetheless I am not guaranteed that what I stated about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and ought to (or only can) it be who in equally conditions? Even with the rebuke, I feel that even in Modern-day American English the woman who we visited won’t suffer if who is replaced with whom. But, compared with my opponent, I confess that preferences differ.


An additional issue I been given was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a rather very long tale, and I made a decision to commit a exclusive article to it in the foreseeable long run.

PS. I see that of the two thoughts requested by our correspondent very last thirty day period only copacetic captivated some awareness (browse Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?

Anatoly Liberman is the writer of Phrase Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, seems on the OUPblog every single Wednesday. Send out your etymology problem to him treatment of [email protected] he’ll do his most effective to avoid responding with “origin not known.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology article content via email or RSS.

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