Monthly etymology gleanings for July 2014

Kelsey W. Popham

By Anatoly Liberman

Since I’ll be out of town at the end of July, I was not guaranteed I would be equipped to produce these “gleanings.” But the concerns have been numerous, and I could response some of them forward of time.

Autumn: its etymology

Our correspondent wonders whether or not the Latin phrase from which English, via French, has autumn, could be recognized with the name of the Egyptian god Autun. The Romans derived the word autumnus, which was each an adjective (“autumnal”) and a noun (“autumn”), from augere “to enhance.” This verb’s perfect participle is auctus “rich (“autumn as a prosperous season”). The Roman derivation, nevertheless not implausible, appears to be like a tribute to people etymology. A additional really serious conjecture allies autumn to the Germanic root aud-, as in Gothic audags “blessed” (in the similar languages, also “rich”). But, much more in all probability, Latin autumnus goes 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 to be), about whom tiny is recognised apart from the tale of his seduction, in the condition of an previous woman, of Pomona, as explained to by Ovid. Vertumnus, or Vortumnus, might be a Latinized form of an Etruscan title. A definite conclusion about autumnus is barely attainable, even however some resources, although tracing this word to Etruscan, insert “without doubt.” The Egyptian Autun was a development god and the god of the environment sun, so that his connection with autumn is remote at most effective. Nor do we have any evidence that Autun had a cult in Historic Rome. Anything is so uncertain in this article that the origin of autumnus will have to desires remain unidentified. In my view, the Egyptian hypothesis holds out little promise.

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 old female. (Pomona by Frans de Vriendt “Floris” (Konstnär, 1518-1570) Antwerpen, Belgien, Hallwyl Museum, Picture by Jens Mohr, by way of Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of so prolonged

I acquired an attention-grabbing letter from Mr. Paul Nance. He writes about so prolonged:

“It would seem the kind of expression that should really have derived from some fuller social nicety, these types of as I regret that it will be so extended in advance of we meet once again or the like, but no one has proposed a obvious antecedent. An oddity is its unexpected look in the early nineteenth century there are only a handful of sightings right before Walt Whitman’s use of it in a poem (including the title) in the 1860-1861 edition of Leaves of Grass. I can, by the way, supply an antedating to the OED citations: so, very good bye, so long in the story ‘Cruise of a Guinean Man’. Knickerbocker: New York (Month to month Magazine 5, February 1835, p. 105 offered on Google Guides). Offered the absence of a fuller antecedent, ideas as to its origin all suggest a borrowing from an additional language. Does this seem affordable to you?”

Mr. Nance was type ample to append two article content (by Alan S. Kaye and Joachim Grzega) on so extended, equally of which I experienced in my folders but have not reread considering that 2004 and 2005, when I identified and copied them. Grzega’s contribution is specially detailed. My databases consists of only one particular extra small comment on so very long by Frank Penny: “About 20 yrs in the past I was educated that it [the expression so long] is allied to Samuel Pepys’s expression so home, and need to be composed so together or so ’long, which means that the man or woman making use of the expression should go his way” (Notes and Queries, Collection 12, vol. IX, 1921, p. 419). The team so home does switch up in the Diary a lot more than when, but no quotation I could locate looks like a formulation. Potentially Stephen Goranson will ferret it out. In any scenario, so lengthy looks like an Americanism, and it is unlikely that such a preferred phrase should really have remained dormant in texts for virtually two generations.

Be that as it may well, I concur with Mr. Nance that a system of this style likely arose in civil discussion. The numerous makes an attempt to discover a overseas source for it carry little conviction. Norwegian does have an just about similar phrase, but, since its antecedents are unknown, it may possibly have been borrowed from English. I suspect (a beloved flip of speech by aged etymologists) that so extensive is in fact a curtailed model of a when more comprehensible parting formula, except it belongs with the likes of for auld lang sine. It may perhaps have been brought to the New Globe 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 mentioned lots of German and Swedish idioms like it is raining cats and puppies, and, somewhat than recycling that text, will refer our outdated correspondent Mr. John Larsson to it.

Ukraine and Baltic area names

The comment on this matter was welcome. In my response, I most popular not to communicate about the items alien to me, but I questioned irrespective of whether the Latvian location identify could be of Slavic origin. That is why I reported cautiously: “If this is a indigenous Latvian word…” The issue, as I understand, continues to be unanswered, but the recommendation is tempting. And yes, of study course, Serb/Croat Krajna is an precise counterpart of Ukraina, only with out a prefix. In Russian, strain falls on i in Ukrainian, I think, the very first a is pressured. The same holds for the derived adjectives: ukrainskii ~ ukrainskii. Pushkin claimed ukrainskaia (female).

Slough, sloo, and the rest

Numerous thanks to people who knowledgeable 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 obtained a concern about the historical past of slew. The past tense of slay (Previous Engl. slahan) was sloh (with a extended vowel), and this form created like scoh “shoe,” nevertheless the verb vacillated between the 6th and the 7th course. The fact that slew and shoe have these types of dissimilar published types is thanks to the vagaries of English spelling. A person can feel of too, who, you, group, fruit, cruise, rheum, truth, and true, which have the very same vowel as slew. In addition, take into account Bruin and ruin, which seem deceptively like fruit, and insert maleoeuver for excellent measure. A moderate spelling reform seems to be like a fantastic concept, doesn’t it?

The pronunciation of February

In one of the letters I obtained, the writer expresses her indignation that some persons insist on sounding the first r in February. All people, she asserts, suggests Febyooary. In these matters, everyone is a risky phrase (as we will also see from the future item). All of us are inclined to imagine that what we say is the only appropriate norm. Text with the succession r…r are likely to drop a single of them. Still library is extra normally pronounced with both equally, and Drury, brewery, and prurient have withstood the inclination. February has adjusted its variety a lot of periods. Hence, extensive ago feverer (from Outdated French) grew to become feverel (maybe underneath the impact of averel “April”). In the more mature language of New England, January and February turned into Janry and Febry. Nevertheless effective the phonetic forces may perhaps have been in impacting the pronunciation of February, of fantastic great importance was also the reality that the names of the months typically arise in enumeration. With out the initially r, January and February rhyme. A similar situation is effectively-recognised from the etymology of some numerals. While the pronunciation Febyooary is equally typical on both sides of the Atlantic and is acknowledged as standard throughout the English-talking planet, not “everybody” has approved it. The consonant b in February is due to the Latinization of the French etymon (late Latin februarius).

Who as opposed to whom

Discussion of these pronouns dropped all desire lengthy in the past, since the confusion of who and whom and the defeat of whom in American English go back to aged times. Nonetheless 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 should (or only can) it be who in both equally instances? Irrespective of the rebuke, I imagine that even in Modern-day American English the lady who we visited won’t experience if who is replaced with whom. But, not like my opponent, I acknowledge that tastes vary.


A further issue I been given was about the origin of the verb wrap. This is a instead long story, and I determined to commit a distinctive submit to it in the foreseeable future.

PS. I discover that of the two concerns requested by our correspondent last month only copacetic attracted some interest (go through Stephen Goranson’s response). But what about hubba hubba?

Anatoly Liberman is the writer of Term Origins And How We Know Them as very well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, seems on the OUPblog just about every Wednesday. Ship your etymology query to him care of [email protected] he’ll do his finest to prevent responding with “origin unidentified.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology content via email or RSS.

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