Monthly etymology gleanings for July 2014

Annette K. Brown

By Anatoly Liberman

Considering the fact that I’ll be out of city at the end of July, I was not confident I would be ready to create these “gleanings.” But the inquiries have been many, and I could remedy some of them ahead of time.

Autumn: its etymology

Our correspondent wonders irrespective of whether the Latin term from which English, by using French, has autumn, could be determined with the identify of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the word autumnus, which was both of those an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to enhance.” This verb’s best participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a wealthy season”). The Roman derivation, however not implausible, appears to be like a tribute to people etymology. A far more severe conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic audags “blessed” (in the relevant languages, also “rich”). But, a lot more possibly, Latin autumnus goes back again to Etruscan. The major argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the name of a seasonal deity (or so it appears), about whom minor is acknowledged besides the tale of his seduction, in the condition of an previous lady, of Pomona, as advised by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, might be a Latinized form of an Etruscan identify. A definite conclusion about autumnus is barely doable, even while some resources, even though tracing this term to Etruscan, increase “without doubt.” The Egyptian Autun was a creation god and the god of the location sunshine, so that his link with autumn is remote at finest. Nor do we have any proof that Autun had a cult in Ancient Rome. Everything is so uncertain listed here that the origin of autumnus will have to requires keep on being mysterious. In my opinion, the Egyptian hypothesis retains out very little assure.

Vertumnus seducing Pomona in the shape of an old woman. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt "Floris" (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Photo by Jens Mohr, via Wikimedia Commons)
Vertumnus seducing Pomona in the form of an outdated lady. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt “Floris” (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Image by Jens Mohr, through Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of so extended

I been given an exciting letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so extensive:

“It seems the type of expression that really should have derived from some fuller social nicety, these as I regret that it will be so prolonged prior to we fulfill once more or the like, but no one has proposed a crystal clear antecedent. An oddity is its sudden visual appearance in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings just before Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (like the title) in the 1860-1861 edition of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, offer you an antedating to the OED citations: so, fantastic bye, so extended in the tale ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Month to month Magazine 5, February 1835, p. 105 available on Google Textbooks). Specified the deficiency of a fuller antecedent, strategies as to its origin all propose a borrowing from a further language. Does this look acceptable to you?”

Mr. Nance was kind more than enough to append two article content (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so extensive, both of which I experienced in my folders but have not reread due to the fact 2004 and 2005, when I observed and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is in particular specific. My database has only one particular far more little remark on so extensive by Frank Penny: “About twenty several years in the past I was educated that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so dwelling, and ought to be written so alongside or so ’long, indicating that the human being utilizing the expression must go his way” (Notes and Queries, Sequence 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The group so residence does flip up in the Diary additional than at the time, but no citation I could locate appears like a formulation. Maybe Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any case, so extended appears to be like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that such a preferred phrase need to have remained dormant in texts for almost two generations.

Be that as it might, I concur with Mr. Nance that a formulation of this form likely arose in civil discussion. The various tries to come across a overseas source for it carry minor conviction. Norwegian does have an nearly similar phrase, but, considering that its antecedents are mysterious, it might have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a most loved convert of speech by old etymologists) that so lengthy is certainly a curtailed version of a when a lot more comprehensible parting formula, except it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may possibly have been introduced to the New Earth from England or Scotland and later abbreviated and reinterpreted.

“Heavy rain” in languages other than English

At the time I wrote a submit titled “When it rains, it does not automatically pour.” There I talked about quite a few German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and dogs, and, alternatively than recycling that textual content, will refer our aged correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.

Ukraine and Baltic location names

The remark on this issue was welcome. In my reaction, I most well-liked not to chat about the points alien to me, but I wondered irrespective of whether the Latvian position name could be of Slavic origin. That is why I claimed cautiously: “If this is a indigenous Latvian word…” The dilemma, as I comprehend, remains unanswered, but the recommendation is tempting. And certainly, of course, Serb/Croat Krajna is an precise counterpart of Ukraina, only without having a prefix. In Russian, stress falls on i in Ukrainian, I believe, the 1st a is stressed. The very same holds for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin claimed ukrainskaia (feminine).

Slough, sloo, and the rest

Quite a few many thanks to these who knowledgeable me about their pronunciation of slough “mire.” It was new to me that the surname Slough is pronounced in a different way in England and the United States. I also been given a concern about the historical past of slew. The previous tense of slay (Old Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a lengthy vowel), and this sort developed like scoh “shoe,” even though the verb vacillated between the 6th and the 7th class. The truth that slew and shoe have such dissimilar prepared varieties is due to the vagaries of English spelling. A single can think of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the same vowel as slew. In addition, look at Bruin and ruin, which glimpse deceptively like fruit, and include gentlemanoeuver for superior measure. A moderate spelling reform looks like a very good strategy, doesn’t it?

The pronunciation of February

In a single of the letters I received, the author expresses her indignation that some people insist on sounding the initially r in February. All people, she asserts, claims Febyooary. In this kind of matters, every person is a harmful word (as we will also see from the upcoming product). All of us tend to believe that what we say is the only correct norm. Text with the succession r…r are inclined to get rid of one particular of them. Nevertheless library is far more generally pronounced with both equally, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the tendency. February has transformed its type a lot of periods. Therefore, extended in the past feverer (from Old French) turned feverel (maybe beneath the influence of averel “April”). In the older language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. On the other hand impressive the phonetic forces could have been in impacting the pronunciation of February, of good worth was also the simple fact that the names of the months typically arise in enumeration. Without the to start with r, January and February rhyme. A very similar situation is perfectly-recognised from the etymology of some numerals. Despite the fact that the pronunciation Febyooary is similarly frequent on each sides of the Atlantic and is acknowledged as regular through the English-talking planet, not “everybody” has acknowledged it. The consonant b in February is because of to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).

Who vs . whom

Discussion of these pronouns misplaced all interest long back, mainly because the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back to old times. But I am not confident that what I stated about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and need to (or only can) it be who in both instances? Even with the rebuke, I feel that even in Fashionable American English the female who we frequented will not suffer if who is replaced with whom. But, as opposed to my opponent, I acknowledge that preferences differ.


Yet another problem I acquired was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a relatively lengthy story, and I decided to dedicate a exclusive article to it in the foreseeable long term.

PS. I observe that of the two queries questioned by our correspondent final month only copacetic attracted some interest (go through Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?

Anatoly Liberman is the writer of Word Origins And How We Know Them as nicely as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on term origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each and every Wednesday. Ship your etymology dilemma to him treatment of [email protected] he’ll do his very best to stay clear of responding with “origin unidentified.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology posts via email or RSS.

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