Thursday, August 10, 2006

English: It's In There!

Looking back at the post I just wrote, my eyes (as always) gravitate toward the foreign words, and my mind (as usual as well) gravitates to any related words in English (or other languages.) I love how all 9 of the Latin, Old English, and Old Norse words in that post have cognates or descendants in modern English:

Villa is English, but so are villain + related forms, the -ville suffix, and nasty. Insula gives us insular of course, but also the 's' in 'island', which otherwise comes from Old English. No really: the 's' was added to iland by people mistaking the word's etymology as coming from French isle, from Latin insula. (Check out the Word Origins section at, s.v. "island".) Domus yields 'domestic' and related words.

The Old English words cot and hám, beget 'cottage', and 'home'. Seld is a tough one, but the same root can be found in familiar proper names like La Salle (one of many Germanic roots that survived in French).

Old Norse hýbýli became Norwegian hybel, and I'd be surprised if it isn't related to English 'hovel'. Hús, of course, is the same word in Old English that yielded 'house' (so that Scottish and Eastern Canadian pronunciation of house is really quite ancient), and garðr's Old English cognate geard had its 'g' pronounced like a 'y', hence the modern form 'yard'.

Postcasts and Podcards

Did I get that right? Anyway, I just got a postcard from Winchester from Agent 9, a friend whom I see too infrequently. It's got a picture of the statue of King Alfred I use as my avatar, as well as Winchester's High Street, and the Butter Cross (no, it's not a monument to Christian dairy farmers). Thanks, Nine! I deeply envy your trapsing around the British Isles while I schlepp around northern Virginia.

I also uploaded a bunch of files to the Bitter Scroll podcast. They're the recordings I made for the Gallery of Germanic Languages at, so they're not new, but at least they're all in one place. (Thanks to Aelfwine Scylding to hosting them for a while.)

Other news at AncientWorlds includes the continued development of "neighborhoods"; they're about to start beta testing the ability to "move in" to places, in any of three types of houses (social levels). So in Rome they'll have insula, domus, and villa. What's more, it sounds like the more multilingual "worlds" like Germania and the Orient will have terms appropriate to each location within it--i.e., that if you move into, say, Winchester in Wessex you'll be able to choose to live in a cot, a hám, or a seld, but if you want your persona to live in Trondheim, he may have a hýbýli, a hús, or a garðr to choose from. More interactivity will be good. There are always interesting things coming down the pipeline at AW.