Monthly etymology gleanings for July 2014

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By Anatoly Liberman

Because I’ll be out of city at the close of July, I was not confident I would be able to create these “gleanings.” But the questions have been many, and I could remedy some of them in advance of time.

Autumn: its etymology

Our correspondent miracles no matter if the Latin word from which English, by way of French, has autumn, could be identified with the name of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the phrase autumnus, which was both of those an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to improve.” This verb’s excellent participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a abundant season”). The Roman derivation, nevertheless not implausible, seems like a tribute to folks etymology. A far more significant conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic audags “blessed” (in the connected languages, also “rich”). But, far more possibly, Latin autumnus goes back again to Etruscan. The main argument for the Etruscan origin is the resemblance of autumnus to Vertumnus, the identify of a seasonal deity (or so it appears to be), about whom very little is regarded other than the tale of his seduction, in the shape of an old lady, of Pomona, as explained to by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, might be a Latinized kind of an Etruscan name. A definite summary about autumnus is hardly probable, even even though some resources, while tracing this term to Etruscan, include “without question.” The Egyptian Autun was a generation god and the god of the environment sunshine, so that his relationship with autumn is remote at best. Nor do we have any proof that Autun experienced a cult in Historic Rome. Every little thing is so uncertain here that the origin of autumnus will have to needs continue being mysterious. In my belief, the Egyptian hypothesis retains out 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 aged girl. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt “Floris” (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Image by Jens Mohr, through Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of so extensive

I obtained an fascinating letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so lengthy:

“It seems the sort of expression that really should have derived from some fuller social nicety, such as I regret that it will be so long in advance of we meet again or the like, but no a single has proposed a obvious antecedent. An oddity is its sudden overall look in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings just before Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (together with the title) in the 1860-1861 version of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, present an antedating to the OED citations: so, good bye, so extended in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Month-to-month Journal 5, February 1835, p. 105 readily available on Google Books). Provided the lack of a fuller antecedent, strategies as to its origin all propose a borrowing from one more language. Does this appear to be sensible to you?”

Mr. Nance was sort adequate to append two articles or blog posts (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so extended, both equally of which I experienced in my folders but have not reread given that 2004 and 2005, when I observed and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is particularly in depth. My database incorporates only just one extra small remark on so very long by Frank Penny: “About 20 decades in the past I was knowledgeable that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so household, and should be created so alongside or so ’long, that means that the particular person utilizing the expression must go his way” (Notes and Queries, Sequence 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The team so residence does turn up in the Diary far more than the moment, but no citation I could discover appears to be like like a method. Potentially Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any circumstance, so prolonged looks like an Americanism, and it is not likely that such a well-liked phrase must have remained dormant in texts for nearly two hundreds of years.

Be that as it could, I concur with Mr. Nance that a formulation of this style in all probability arose in civil discussion. The numerous tries to discover a overseas resource for it carry little conviction. Norwegian does have an just about similar phrase, but, considering the fact that its antecedents are unfamiliar, it could have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a preferred switch of speech by outdated etymologists) that so extended is in truth a curtailed edition of a once extra comprehensible parting formula, unless it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may have been brought to the New Earth from England or Scotland and afterwards abbreviated and reinterpreted.

“Heavy rain” in languages other than English

As soon as I wrote a write-up titled “When it rains, it does not automatically pour.” There I pointed out many German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and puppies, and, somewhat than recycling that textual content, will refer our previous correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.

Ukraine and Baltic area names

The comment on this make a difference was welcome. In my reaction, I favored not to talk about the issues alien to me, but I wondered irrespective of whether the Latvian put title could be of Slavic origin. That is why I stated cautiously: “If this is a indigenous Latvian word…” The problem, as I understand, continues to be unanswered, but the suggestion is tempting. And yes, of system, Serb/Croat Krajna is an specific counterpart of Ukraina, only with out a prefix. In Russian, worry falls on i in Ukrainian, I feel, the 1st a is stressed. The exact same retains for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin mentioned ukrainskaia (feminine).

Slough, sloo, and the relaxation

Quite a few thanks to all those who informed me about their pronunciation of slough “mire.” It was new to me that the surname Slough is pronounced in different ways in England and the United States. I also been given a problem about the historical past of slew. The previous tense of slay (Previous Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a long vowel), and this sort produced like scoh “shoe,” even though the verb vacillated between the 6th and the 7th class. The truth that slew and shoe have this kind of dissimilar written varieties is thanks to the vagaries of English spelling. One particular can think of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the similar vowel as slew. In addition, take into account Bruin and ruin, which glance deceptively like fruit, and include guyoeuver for superior measure. A gentle spelling reform looks like a superior plan, doesn’t it?

The pronunciation of February

In one particular of the letters I received, the writer expresses her indignation that some persons insist on sounding the to start with r in February. Everybody, she asserts, states Febyooary. In these issues, everyone is a perilous word (as we will also see from the following merchandise). All of us have a tendency to imagine that what we say is the only suitable norm. Text with the succession r…r have a tendency to drop one particular of them. However library is much more frequently pronounced with each, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the tendency. February has altered its form quite a few instances. As a result, long back feverer (from Previous French) grew to become feverel (perhaps below the influence of averel “April”). In the older language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. Nonetheless strong the phonetic forces may well have been in impacting the pronunciation of February, of wonderful great importance was also the point that the names of the months normally occur in enumeration. Without the need of the to start with r, January and February rhyme. A comparable situation is nicely-recognised from the etymology of some numerals. Though the pronunciation Febyooary is similarly widespread on both equally sides of the Atlantic and is recognized as typical throughout the English-speaking planet, not “everybody” has approved it. The consonant b in February is because of to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).

Who as opposed to whom

Dialogue of these pronouns shed all desire extended ago, mainly because the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back again to outdated days. However I am not positive that what I claimed about the educated norm is “nonsense.” Who will marry our son? Whom will our son marry? Is it “nonsense” to distinguish them, and must (or only can) it be who in each cases? In spite of the rebuke, I believe that that even in Modern American English the female who we frequented will not experience if who is changed with whom. But, contrary to my opponent, I acknowledge that preferences differ.


One more question I received was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a alternatively lengthy tale, and I decided to devote a exclusive post to it in the foreseeable foreseeable future.

PS. I discover that of the two inquiries questioned by our correspondent past thirty day period only copacetic attracted some awareness (study Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?

Anatoly Liberman is the creator of Term Origins And How We Know Them as perfectly as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on term origins, The Oxford Etymologist, seems on the OUPblog every Wednesday. Send out your etymology question to him treatment of [email protected] he’ll do his ideal to keep away from responding with “origin unfamiliar.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology content articles via email or RSS.

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