By Anatoly Liberman
Given that I’ll be out of town at the close of July, I was not certain I would be in a position to compose these “gleanings.” But the questions have been quite a few, and I could reply some of them forward of time.
Autumn: its etymology
Our correspondent miracles whether the Latin term from which English, by way of French, has autumn, could be identified with the title of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the phrase autumnus, which was both an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to enhance.” This verb’s ideal participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a wealthy season”). The Roman derivation, however not implausible, appears to be like like a tribute to folks etymology. A additional serious conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic aud–ags “blessed” (in the connected languages, also “rich”). But, much more likely, Latin autumnus goes back again to Etruscan. The main argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the title of a seasonal deity (or so it would seem), about whom little is identified aside from the tale of his seduction, in the form of an old woman, of Pomona, as explained to by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, may possibly be a Latinized sort of an Etruscan title. A definite summary about autumnus is rarely achievable, even although some sources, although tracing this word to Etruscan, increase “without question.” The Egyptian Autun was a creation god and the god of the setting sunlight, so that his link with autumn is remote at greatest. Nor do we have any evidence that Autun experienced a cult in Historical Rome. Almost everything is so unsure listed here that the origin of autumnus ought to requires remain unknown. In my view, the Egyptian hypothesis retains out tiny guarantee.
The origin of so extensive
I received an exciting letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so extended:
“It appears to be the sort of expression that ought to have derived from some fuller social nicety, this kind of as I regret that it will be so prolonged ahead of we satisfy yet again or the like, but no 1 has proposed a crystal clear antecedent. An oddity is its unexpected physical appearance in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings in advance of Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (such as the title) in the 1860-1861 version of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, supply an antedating to the OED citations: so, excellent bye, so very long in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Month to month Journal 5, February 1835, p. 105 available on Google Textbooks). Specified the lack of a fuller antecedent, tips as to its origin all propose a borrowing from another language. Does this seem to be acceptable to you?”
Mr. Nance was type plenty of to append two content (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so long, both of which I had in my folders but have not reread considering the fact that 2004 and 2005, when I located and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is specifically comprehensive. My database has only a single more small comment on so extensive by Frank Penny: “About twenty many years back I was knowledgeable that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so house, and should really be written so alongside or so ’long, that means that the human being employing the expression need to go his way” (Notes and Queries, Collection 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The team so property does transform up in the Diary a lot more than when, but no citation I could find seems like a formula. Potentially Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any case, so extensive seems like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that these kinds of a well-known phrase ought to have remained dormant in texts for virtually two centuries.
Be that as it may perhaps, I agree with Mr. Nance that a method of this sort possibly arose in civil conversation. The a lot of attempts to obtain a foreign supply for it carry small conviction. Norwegian does have an almost similar phrase, but, because its antecedents are unknown, it may perhaps have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a preferred change of speech by old etymologists) that so extended is certainly a curtailed model of a as soon as extra comprehensible parting system, unless of course it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may well have been introduced to the New World from England or Scotland and later on abbreviated and reinterpreted.
“Heavy rain” in languages other than English
As soon as I wrote a post titled “When it rains, it does not always pour.” There I described quite a few German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and pet dogs, and, instead than recycling that text, will refer our aged correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.
Ukraine and Baltic place names
The comment on this make a difference was welcome. In my reaction, I most popular not to discuss about the things alien to me, but I questioned regardless of whether the Latvian spot name could be of Slavic origin. That is why I reported cautiously: “If this is a indigenous Latvian word…” The concern, as I recognize, stays unanswered, but the recommendation is tempting. And yes, of training course, Serb/Croat Krajna is an specific counterpart of Ukraina, only without having a prefix. In Russian, stress falls on i in Ukrainian, I assume, the first a is stressed. The very same retains for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin said ukrainskaia (feminine).
Slough, sloo, and the rest
Lots of many thanks to all those who informed me about their pronunciation of slough “mire.” It was new to me that the surname Slough is pronounced otherwise in England and the United States. I also acquired a problem about the historical past of slew. The earlier tense of slay (Old Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a long vowel), and this type created like scoh “shoe,” although the verb vacillated among the 6th and the 7th course. The simple fact that slew and shoe have these kinds of dissimilar prepared types is thanks to the vagaries of English spelling. One can consider of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the similar vowel as slew. In addition, take into consideration Bruin and ruin, which search deceptively like fruit, and incorporate guyoeuver for fantastic measure. A delicate spelling reform seems to be like a very good plan, doesn’t it?
The pronunciation of February
In one particular of the letters I gained, the writer expresses her indignation that some folks insist on sounding the first r in February. Everybody, she asserts, states Febyooary. In these issues, everybody is a risky word (as we will also see from the subsequent item). All of us are inclined to think that what we say is the only correct norm. Terms with the succession r…r have a tendency to reduce one particular of them. Yet library is a lot more frequently pronounced with both equally, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the tendency. February has changed its kind numerous occasions. So, lengthy ago feverer (from Previous French) became feverel (potentially less than the influence of averel “April”). In the more mature language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. On the other hand effective the phonetic forces may well have been in influencing the pronunciation of February, of terrific significance was also the reality that the names of the months generally happen in enumeration. Devoid of the to start with r, January and February rhyme. A identical situation is effectively-acknowledged from the etymology of some numerals. Whilst the pronunciation Febyooary is similarly prevalent on the two sides of the Atlantic and is recognized as regular during the English-talking planet, not “everybody” has accepted it. The consonant b in February is because of to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).
Who versus whom
Discussion of these pronouns missing all curiosity lengthy back, since the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back to previous times. However I am not absolutely sure that what I explained about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and should really (or only can) it be who in each circumstances? Regardless of the rebuke, I feel that even in Modern American English the lady who we visited will not go through if who is changed with whom. But, compared with my opponent, I confess that tastes vary.
Another issue I received was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a somewhat prolonged tale, and I made the decision to commit a distinctive post to it in the foreseeable potential.
PS. I notice that of the two inquiries asked by our correspondent previous month only copacetic attracted some focus (study Stephen Goranson’s reaction). But what about hubba hubba?
Anatoly Liberman is the author of Phrase Origins And How We Know Them as very well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on phrase origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog just about every Wednesday. Deliver your etymology concern to him care of [email protected] he’ll do his best to stay away from responding with “origin not known.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology content articles via email or RSS.
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