Our habitat: booth

This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. The post Our
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This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. Although we speak about telephone booths, in Modern English, booth more often refers to a temporary structure, and so it has always been. The word came to English from Scandinavia. In its northern shape it is most familiar to those who have read Icelandic sagas.  Medieval Iceland was settled by colonists from Norway (mainly) and had no royalty. To settle legislative issues, free farmers from the entire country met at the general assembly (“parliament”) called Alþingi (þ = th); there also were local “things.” People naturally traveled on horseback, and, to reach the field where the assembly was held, some participants needed many days. There they set up “booths.”  The annual meeting lasted two weeks, so that booths remained empty for most of the year. They could be called temporary only because they. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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