Thursday, 30 December 2010

sweet and hedonism

Proto-Indo-European *sweh₂d- "sweet, pleasant" became Proto-Germanic *swōtja then English sweet.

The suffixed form *swād-onā became ancient Greek ἡδονή "lust", borrowed into English as hedonism.

The suffixed form *swād-wi- became Latin suāuis "sweet" then French suave "agreeable", then English suave.

The form *swād-es- became ancient Greek ἡδύς or ϝἁδύς "sweet". This combined with α "not" to form ἁηδης "unpleasant", giving us a word that is new to me: aedes, a yellow-fever mosquito of the genus Aëdes.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Calvary

The place where Christ was crucified was called in Aramaic gogulþō or gogolþā meaning "skull" (OED) - in Hebrew גולגולת gulgolet. Presumably this was because the hill was rounded like a skull.

In Latin it was called Caluāria "skull", which was borrowed into Engish as Calvary. Latin caluāria is from caluus "bald", from Proto-Indo-European *kl̥h₂-wo- "bald" (AHD).

English callow and German kahl "bald" are both from Proto-Germanic *kalwo-, which is thought to be borrowed from Latin caluus (OED). Although others think it's from another Proto-Indo-European root, *gal- "bald" (AHD).

In Old English the hill was called hēafod-pannan stōw "head-pan place", that is, "skull place".

Thursday, 2 December 2010

mullered and amaranth

mullered is a British English word meaning "smashed, wrecked, hammered"… that is, "drunk". muller means "ruin, wreck, destroy". It was probably borrowed from Angloromani mul-, the preterite stem of mer- "to die" (OED). This is cognate with Sanskrit mr̥ "to die", as in mara and amrita.

The Proto-Indo-European root *mer- "to rub away, harm" became Greek μαραίνειν "to whither, decay". The adjective *-μαραντος "fading, corruptible" combined with ἀ "not" became ἀμάραντος, "everlasting". This was borrowed into Latin as amarantus. It was also written amaranthus due to the assumption that it was related to Greek ἄνθος "flower" (OED). An amarant(h) is a flower that never fades.