Wednesday, 3 June 2009

dalek and long

No one knows for sure where Terry Nation got the word Dalek. I've read that he says he got it from a volume of an encyclopedia that spanned entries from DAL to LEK. This seems unlikely; how many encyclopedias cover that much in one volume?

Some Doctor Who sources mention the Serbo-Croatian word dalek "far". It's unlikely Nation borrowed the word from Serbo-Croatian, but let's pretend he did for the purpose of this exercise. This dalek is from Proto-Slavic *dalekú "far, distant", a suffixed form of *dalü "distance", perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *del- "long". The extended and suffixed zero-grade form *dlon-gʰo- became English long - and also linger, from the Proto-Germanic causative *langjan - that is "to make long".

3 comments :

Adam Roberts Project said...

If we're playing this game, I'd prefer a derivation from the Greek dalos: 'a fire-brand, a piece of blazing wood' and also 'a thunderbolt'. That's closer to the nature of Daleks, surely. The Dorian is dalios.

goofy said...

Liddell and Scott say "dalos" is also "a kind of meteor" which is very appropriate. It's from "daiō" ("light up") which makes it look like it's from the same root as "Zeus", "deva", "Jupiter" and "deus".

Adam Roberts Project said...

"Zeus", "deva", "Jupiter" and "deus" ...

Let us fall to our knees and worship our divine Dalek overlords!