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 posted at www.espressotranslations.com. 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?

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Talia

Don’t get me started on the roots of the English language. I’ll talk for hours and you’ll never shut me up. Damn my love of our language!

Mosh

I just think the whole language thing is funky. DId you know that the Vietnamese use all French words for their baking and pastries, with the exceptions of the “sh” sound which doesn’t exist in their phonetic alphabet?

G

‘Defenestration’ is:

a)

Mosh

Succinct. To the point.

And perhaps you clicked “publish” too soon 😉

G

Sorry.. again..

Defenestration is like:

1) fighting with infestation by simply throwing it through a window. And if it is your wife lover, then we are dealling with:

2) de-fe-ne (whatever, help me someone!) castration by throwing him through the window and hoping that:

i) he will cut himself in the critical part on the piece of window glass

ii) will not survive the crash with his own car front mask…

c) above to unfaithful lover…

Sorry… Couldn’t resits ;DDD Too many Green Little People in my life today…

Mosh

You know, suddenly G is scaring me with all this castration talk.

*edges quickly away*

G

🙂

Night night Mosh…

Rob

It’s because she works with hi-tech cutting-egde technologies! Bylem tu! 😀 Best regards! Rob

Mosh

Uh-oh. My blog’s being invaded by Poles…

D Morgan

Well, when I lived in Greece, everyone called it a “fenestra”. That’s how I’ve always remembered the French version, by remembering the Greek first.

I tried a google search for “fenestra greek” and guess what came up as the first hit?

And I also came across this: http://www.logos.it/pls/dictionary/new_dictionary.kdic.main?phrase_code=4884074

From that, if we order the fenestra/window versions by a sort of similarity, we get a sort of slow fade from one to the other:

fenestra Latin ** Start here **
fenestra Greek, Marchigiano, Occitan
fenèstra Bergamasco, Bresciano
fensetere Setswana
fenestro Esperanto
fenèstro Provençal
fänschter Swiss German
ffenestr Welsh
fenesta Napulitano
fnestra Mantuan, Parmigiano, Reggiano
fnèstra Mudnés
fnéstra Romagnolo
fnèstra Bolognese
f’nestr’ Viestano
fenîtra Dzoratâi
fenêtre French
fnetra Piemontese
fanestra Romansh
finessra Sicilian
finestra Aragones, Calabrese, Catalan, Catanese, Italian, Ladin, Triestino, Valencian
finèstra Lombardo Occidentale
fönster Swedish
finster Frisian
vinster Limburgian
Vindu Norwegian
vindue Danish
windova Spanglish
vindeyga Faeroese
window English ** End Here **

…or…

fenestra Latin ** Start here **
fenster German, Yiddish
fënster Luxembourgish
venster Afrikaans, Flemish
ventana Asturian, Judeo-Spanish, Leonese, Sardinian Campidanesu, Spanish
bentana Sardinian
vent English ** End here **

So we could argue that the language just drifted. But I blame Microsoft for brainwashing us all with subliminal messages. If you ask someone who’s never used a computer the English name for those glass-covered holes in the wall, they’ll say “It’s a venister, innit?”

Mosh

And I thought I had too much time… Actually, I don’t. Good reply though. From the master or procrastination himself! 🙂

Liam Proven

I have answered this, but it’s *way* too big to fit here. You’ll have to read it elsewhere:
http://lproven.livejournal.com/198661.html

Also, the essay I refer to, Uncleftish Beholding, is rather hard to find, so I have reproduced it, tidied and marked-up, here:
http://lproven.livejournal.com/199015.html

Enjoy!

Mosh

Cheers, Liam. Now all I need to do is understand it 😉

D Morgan

I *thought* I was good at procrastination, but I shall retire under my bushel: I have been soundly beaten!

Mosh

Thing is, Liam probably wasn’t procrastinating. He just *does* this kind of stuff!

Liam Proven

It’s true, I do, but as I have no formal training in linguistics, I tend to go and fact-check a fair bit… :¬)

16
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x