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'.

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