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What a funny old language

I’ve been around a few places recently and I’m currently nesting in France. As I’ve been around Europe a lot in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities (and differences) in the languages – mainly Spanish, German, French and Italian. Don’t get me started on the Eastern European ones as I’m simply baffled by the whole fricking lot of them.

But the one that raises the most questions? English. It’s weird. I mean, I love it, but it’s weird.

Take the following two examples. In English, we say “window”. This translates into the following words in various languages:

French – fenêtre
German – Fenster
Italian – finestra
Spanish – ventana
Dutch – venster
Latin – fenestra
Greek – parathyro (in "Greeklish")

OK, Spanish is a little off but the rest are obviously hugely based on the Latin. Where the hell did we get “window” from? And to throw another spanner in the works, why do we resort to the Latin root for the word “defenestration” (the act of throwing something, usually a person, through a window)? OK, “dewindowation” looks and sounds crap, but still…

Want another example? Try “blood”:

French – sang
German – Blut
Italian – anima
Spanish – sangre
Dutch – bloed
Latin – cruor, cruorem
Greek – aima (in Greeklish)

Now in this case, English seems to be in the slight majority for a change. French and Spanish have joined forces and Latin’s sat there wondering why nobody is listening to it. On the other hand, what’s the English term for blood-letting? It’s “exsanguination”. So we hop roots to another source again. Argh.

I’m no language expert, though I find them interesting. Anyone got any ideas where these to-ings and fro-ings come from?

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