According to Kiefer and Laakso (2014), there is a general consensus that there are 6 main branches of Uralic: Ugric: Hungarian (13 million speakers) and, in Western Siberia, the Ob-Ugric languages Khanty (almost 10,000 speakers) and Mansi (probably less than 10,000 speakers) Finnic: Finnish (5 million speakers); Estonian (1 million). Other Finnic languages have many…… Continue reading The Uralic Languages
Major rivers in Russia and neighbouring countries include the Dniester, Dnieper, Don (and its tributary the Donets). They flow into the Black Sea—the Don doing so via the Sea of Azov. These names are believed to derive from the Iranic words danu (‘river’). For example, the Dnieper comes from a form reconstructed as *danu para…… Continue reading Who used to live near the Don?
How are numerals formed in Indo-European languages today, and how were they formed in the ancestral language Proto-Indo-European (PIE)? And do ordering patterns of components within numerals align with other word order patterns in the same languages? Andreea S. Calude and Annemarie Verkerk considered those questions in a paper looking at how 81 present and past…… Continue reading Structure of numbers in Indo-European
It’s a hot day so I’ve opened my window. A wasp just came in, and I guided it cautiously outside using the book that was nearest to hand (Japanese for Busy People). That set me wondering what verb best describes what I had just done. The verb that immediately came to mind was usher: I…… Continue reading Do ushers ush or do they usher?
I’ve previously posted my translation of Goethe’s poem Ginkgo Biloba. I’ve recently found more about the history, spelling and pronunciation of the word Ginkgo. I found this in section 8.3 of Sounds Fascinating: Further Investigations on English Phonetics and Phonology (2016), by JC Wells. Wells notes that the Oxford English Dictionary describes the word as…… Continue reading More about Ginkgo
I have just read a paper describing 16 differences between Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. The description was in a paper that looked for the border between language varieties separated by each difference. The paper also looked at whether those borders match national borders and how close the varieties are to each other. The authors…… Continue reading Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian
Some Japanese words are compounds of a verb and a noun. The noun is typically one that undergoes the action denoted by verb—the object of a transitive verb or the ‘patient’ of an intransitive verb. Japanese components Some of these compounds have native Japanese components elements. In these cases the compound contains the noun followed…… Continue reading Words showing their history
When people say goodbye in German, they don’t usually say Auf Widersehen, they mostly say tschüß. I always used to wonder where this odd word comes from. Now I know. “In rapid speech, its possibly Wallonian variant adjuus (sounding close to Spanish adiós) yielded the almost unrecognizable word tschüs.” Monthly gleanings for October 2019 |…… Continue reading So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
The word “coach” comes from the name of the Hungarian town Kocs. So, as the Hungarian version of this notice says, a coach from Kocs is Kocsi Kocsi. Picture taken in 2014 at The Transport Museum of Budapest.