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Etymology gleanings for January and February 2020

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Three comments on the most recent posts Hunt: etymology The Greek verb meaning “chase, hunt” has the root kīn (with long i), and that is why some speakers of British English pronounce the first syllable of kinetics as in kine. Long i in the Greek verb goes back to a diphthong. Kīn is the full grade of the root. Its zero grade has the vowel i (short). There is no way from ī to short u, as in hunt. Also, the most ancient meaning of the Indo-European root kei– must have been “to set in motion,” not “chase.” Last time, I said that the Greek verb had not attracted the attention of the oldest English etymologists. I should have avoided the plural, because only John Minsheu (1617) cited the Greek word at hunt, but in Minsheu’s dictionary the line between cognates and synonyms in various languages is sometimes hard to draw. The great Early Modern philologist Francis Junius was an especially strong proponent of the Greek origin of English words; he did not even include hunt in his dictionary (he may have had nothing to say about it). George William Lemon, another old etymologist, traced hunt to the root of Latin canis “dog,”, because, I assume, hunting was inseparable in his mind from hounds. Noah Webster was prone to deriving English words from the languages strewn all over the world; yet he offered no conjectures. Finally, Hensleigh Wedgwood, another great master of stringing together remote words, had no suggestions either. The reticence of even the oldest philologists when it came to deriving hunt from Greek should warn modern amateurs against such wild guesses. The origin of hunt remains unknown. Engl. breath, German Atem, and Greek átmus Are Atem and átmus “vapor, steam,” the latter known to us from atmosphere, related? Most probably, they are not, even though t in German Atem goes back to th (þ) and though the original vowel in Atem was also long. The vowel á in átmus is the product of a contracted diphthong (ae), with the digamma (F) in the middle. Indeed,. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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