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CHAT Etruscana (was: Oh! Kay! (was : ...etc))

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, February 28, 2004, 18:05
On Friday, February 27, 2004, at 11:50 AM, John Cowan wrote:

> Ray Brown scripsit: > >>>> The English name of the letter has always been [kej]. This name is >>>> Great-Vowel-Shifted directly from the name it had all the way back in >>>> Roman times, [ka], >> >> Spot on. The Middle English was [ka:], inherited via french from Latin. > > Why via French? Surely the names of the letters came into English when > the letters themselves did, in Old English times when French hardly > existed.
I was thinking that K was not used in Old English & therefore not part of their alphabet. But I have checked & find it was, although little used. (Likewise the Etruscans preserved all the Greek letters, renaming them, in their listings of the alphabet even though some of the letters, e.g. B, D, were not used in writing the language). But there was some re-introduction by the Normans. The Latin [i:] has become [aj] as we would expect whether the name came via Old English or Norman French. But the Latin & Old English [u:] has not given us [aw] as the modern name of the letter 'U'. The modern [ju:] is from Norman french [y:].
>> The Roman letter names were borrowed from Etruscan > > It's inspiring to think that there are twenty-odd (indirect) borrowings > from Etruscan in modern English, and hardly anybody realizes it. (There > is also _element_ < L _elementum, of no known etymology, unless indeed it > is _LMN-tum_, though why LMN nobody knows.)
The month 'April' is probably of Etruscan origin. The etymology still often quoted which derives it from 'aperire' (to open) cannot be correct; it is an ancient folk etymology, even tho some books still trot it out as tho it were accepted & proven fact :=( The root of the Latin verb is *aperj- and thus it would require the name to be at least *aperilis; nor is it a particularly good name as the "opening month" in the old pre-Julian calendar was March, which marked the beginning both of Spring and of the year. The month name is probably derived from Etruscan Apru-/Aphru-, a goddess the Romans identified with Venus (the Etruscan name is almost certainlt derived from Greek Aphrodite) . Nor is the month June simply "Juno's month". If this were so, the Latin would've have been Iunonius (mensis), not Iunius (mensis) and, presumably, we'd be calling it *Junone. It's likely that the originally Latin form was *Unius from the Etruscan 'Uni' (their name for 'Juno'). The Classical Latin 'Iunius' is due to a conflation of the original *Unius with their own goddess Juno. The intervening month, May <-- Latin 'Maius (mensis)' is held by some to be derived from Maia, the Titaness who bore Hercules/Herakles (fathered inevitably by Jupiter/Zeus). But it seems odd that a month should named after a rather obscure deity and the origin of the name may well turn out to be Etruscan again. Certainly the first month of the pre-Julian calendar, March, is named after Mars <-- Martius (mensis). But he was an important god to the early Romans, with both agricultural & military interests before being equated with the Greek Ares. But IIRC the name Mars is of Etruscan origin. There are some other English indirect borrowings from Etruscan, e.g. autumn <-- Latin 'autumnus' "Autumn, Fall" <-- Etr. autu fenestration <-- Latin 'fenestra' "window" <-- Etr. fnestra. histrionics --> Latin 'histrio' "actor" which, according to Livy, is from Etrscan 'hister' = "actor" (the language was still spoken in Livy's day). mantissa <-- Latin 'mantissa/manti:sa' "worthless addition, make-weight' <-- Etr. mantisa servile <-- Latin 'seruus' (servus) "slave" <-- Etr. seru- spurious <-- Latin 'spurius' "illigitimate, bastard" <-- Etr. spuri- Less certain, but probably of Etruscan origin are: antenna <-- Latin 'antenna/ antemna' "sail-yard" <-- Etr. *antemn- ceremony <-- Latin 'caerimonia' <-- Etr. *caerimo military <-- Latin 'miles' (genitive: 'militis') <-- Etr. *milet- There are probably a few others.
> It's also strange to realize > that these letter-words have no standard spellings whatsoever, yet they > are standard words used (with the usual variations) in all dialects.
Except 'zed'/'zee' :)
>> Complete mystery - one is tempted to say "ignorance" :) > > If L1 speakers can teach other L1 speakers that "potatoe" is the correct > spelling of "potato", nothing is too surprising.
From what I remember, it was one particular L1 speaker :) Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Tristan McLeay <kesuari@...>
John Cowan <cowan@...>