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Re: CHAT: Scythes and Scythians (was: Re: CHAT: Re: Japanese English)

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Thursday, March 23, 2000, 17:18
daniel andreasson wrote:

> Christophe Grandsire wrote: > > > A scythe? What a beautiful word! It's pronounced /sait/? /saiT/? > > /saID/ afaik.
Yes, if you're talking about the farm instrument that one uses to cut grain. The people Christophe mentions are occasionally referred to as <Scythes> in English, but I think that's kinda archaic. They're usually called Scythians by moderns. Those are pronounced /saiT/ and /sITi@n/, respectively.
> > In French, Scythe is the name of a people, 'les Scythes', they lived > > soemwhere in Greece IIRC.
They extended over a region of southeastern Europe that roughly corresponds to modern Ukraine and the Caucasus states of former Soviet Russia several centuries before Christ.
> Is this the same in English? Is there any > > connection? > > A famous Swede from the 17th century, Georg Stiernhielm, thought > that the Proto-language (Proto-World? :) was Noa's language. Scythian > was, according to him, the language that had best preserved this > Proto-language. Scythian was supposedly spoken by one of Noa's > grandsons Magog. Though the most hilarous thing is that Stiernhielm > claimed that Swedish is a Scythian lang and even the language that > is closest to the Proto-language of all the Scythian langs! :)
Humorous, but not surprising. Umberto Eco writes in his book _The Search for the Perfect Language about one Frenchman, the Count Antoine de Rivarol and that man's book _De la universitalité de la langue française_: "According to de Rivarol, French possessed a phonetic system that guaranteed sweetness and harmony, as well as a literature incomperable in its richness and grandeur; it was spoken in that capital city which had become the 'foyer des étincelles répandues chez tous les peuples'. In comparison with French, German was too gutteral, Italian too soft, Spanish too redundant, English too obscure. Rivarol attributed the superiority of French to its word order: first subject, then verb, and last object. The word order mirrored a natural logic which was in accordance with the requirements of common sense.... [D]e Rivarol asserts that if other people, speaking in other tongues, had abandoned the natural direct word order, it was because they had let their passions prevail over their intellect." (p. 300-1) It sounds disturbingly similar to modern day members of the French Academy, or the editors of _Le Monde_. :) ====================================== Tom Wier <artabanos@...> ICQ#: 4315704 AIM: trwier "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ======================================