Spending Pounds and Pensively Pondering: pend- in English
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
3w ago
Reading time: 5-10 minutes Just a simple piece from me for this month, in which I’d like to shine a spotlight on a Latin root that’s been remarkably successful in English vocabulary. It all goes back to hanging things. In Latin, we find the very similar verbs pendere and pendēre. They’re close not only in form but also in meaning: pendere primarily means ‘to weigh’, while pendēre means ‘to hang (down)’. Their shared root, pend-, must have originally meant ‘hang’. Pendere was at first the verb derived from it for hanging something, while pendēre was its intransitive counterpart. Pendēre maintai ..read more
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Humble Thimbles and Thor’s Thunder
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
2M ago
Reading time: 5-10 minutes For this month, I’d like to highlight a phonological phenomenon that should be part of the conceptual toolkit of all etymology fans. It’s something that’s happened in the history of English, and in languages that have gone on to influence English. Awareness of this change can therefore clarify and connect all kinds of current English vocabulary. This is the linguistic phenomenon of epenthesis. Its name deriving from the Ancient Greek verb epentíthēmi (‘I insert’), this is a seemingly straightforward process, in which a new sound is added into a word. It’s often the k ..read more
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The Fates of the Dual
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
3M ago
The Story of Indo-European’s (Mostly) Lost Number Reading time: 10 minutes Introduction One book, many books. One cat, many cats. One woman, many women. One sheep, many… well, also sheep. In Modern English, the grammatical options for nouns are limted to two. A given noun can be singular, referring to one individual thing, or plural, which is used for any amount other than one. Of course, this includes all integers greater than one up to infinity (two houses, ten people), but the plural is also used with zero (zero trains, no trees) and with one plus a fraction (one and a half cakes). This cap ..read more
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Streets Ahead: When Roman Roads Met Old English
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
4M ago
Reading time: 5 minutes (With my apologies to subscribers for the second email, following an accidental premature publication) I’m very keen to share a fun linguistic adventure that I found myself on this week, as I dug down into the history of the humble English word street. It all began with a Patreon post by the etymologist extraordinaire Yoïn van Spijk about the oldest layer of Latin loanwords in English. While the majority of our Latinate vocabulary entered English after 1066, there is a fascinating small set of words whose borrowing predates that by several centuries. Heck, it predates a ..read more
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Christmas Trees and Etymologies
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
6M ago
Reading time: 5 minutes As an etymological Christmas gift from me for 2023, here’s a quick dive into the story and connections of one festive word: the humble Christmas tree. Now, Modern English tree goes back to Old English trēow, which could mean a specific tree or the substance of wood.      … Ġeseah iċ wuldres trēow, wǣdum ġeweorðode, wynnum sċīnan, ġeġyred mid golde; ġimmas hæfdon bewriġene weorðlīċe Wealdendes trēow. ‘I saw the tree of glory, honoured with garments, shining with joys, adorned with gold; gems had worthily covered the ..read more
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The Reichenau Glossary and the Birth of French
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
8M ago
Reading time: 10 minutes Now, I must confess, I have been somewhat preoccupied for the past two months, and so haven’t dedicated time to this site. The jump into the world of podcasting has taken a lot of effort, and yet the website hasn’t been far from my thoughts. So, for this October, I’m getting back to my online roots and geeking out about historical linguistics and cool medieval texts. Here’s my introduction to one such text. What are the Reichenau Glosses and Why Should I Care? It’s fair to say that the Reichenau Glossary isn’t the best known historical document. Yet it deserves its mom ..read more
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Five Antiquities of English
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
10M ago
Reading time: 10-15 minutes To listen along in an audio format, just click here: IT’S WELL KNOWN that English has undergone many significant changes down the centuries. Events like the Norman Conquest have drastically altered the shape of the language, influencing words and sounds so much that a new kind of English was born. Yet language doesn’t need political upheavals to change; it’s in the nature of language to differ across time, although we don’t notice many of these divergences while we are living through them. Consequently, we can describe certain aspects of English as innovative, meani ..read more
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Learning English Etymology with Will!
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
1y ago
A newflash from me: I’ve made a move into the world of animation! Up now on YouTube is a brand-new video on etymology and the history of English, partly narrated and scripted by me. It’s collaboration with the talented animator Will as part of his Learn with Will series of educational videos, and you can watch it here: This was a real labour of love for Will and me, something we were keen to produce for our own reasons. For myself, I’ve long felt that videos and the visual medium offer definite advantages for communicating linguistics publicly. I may not have the skills to make use of those a ..read more
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The Gaulish in English, in 10 Words
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
1y ago
Reading time: 10-15 minutes To hear me speaking in my not-quite-best Latin, you can listen along here: IF you know a thing or two about Roman history, you will have come across the Gauls. They loom large in the story of Rome’s rise to dominance, both as their aggressor and as victims of their conquests. In its early days, when Rome was a little Italian kingdom and then a republic, Gauls would come to be found on both sides of the Alps, having migrated from what is now France into northern Italy in the 4th century BC. This expansion brought them into intense contact with the Romans. Some of thi ..read more
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Behind the Scenes of Etymology with YouTube’s Jackson Crawford
Danny L. Bate » Etymology
by dannylbate
1y ago
Just another personal bit of news from me: my appearance as a virtual guest and interviewee of Dr Jackson Crawford is now up on YouTube! Dr Crawford is one of the biggest linguistics YouTubers active at the moment, and it was a real thrill to be invited for one of his Patreon interviews. You can watch our broad-ranging conversation in full here: Having now watched it myself, and with minimal cringing at my performance, I’d like to share it on my site too. This is my first foray into the world of YouTube content, so it was a bit of good fortune to be introduced to YouTube by someone whose cont ..read more
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