Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Who knows Old English? 

Random observation: the Old English word for war (werra) is very similar to the word for man (were). Is this a coincidence or are they etimologically related?

Old English Girl to the rescue! Who knew that my services would (ever) be needed? :)

So... preliminary searches have come up blank for "werra" as war -- there are lots of words for war, but "werra" is unattested in the corpus. You can do "wig" with a long i for battle, war, and "wiga" with a short i meaning a fighter, man. "Wer" as man, of course, does also mean "hero," and it was pretty much automatically assumed that all men were warriors of some sort. Here's another fun one: "wæpen" meaning weapon, sword and "wæpned" meaning "male."

As for exact etymologies, it really is all quite fuzzy.

(As to your previous q about pronounciation - Þ, þ and Ð, ð are both pronounced "th" and the dipthong Æ, æ is pretty much a schwa.)

Back to the bat cave!
Thanks for answering my question (and sorry for taking so long to thank you). Old English saves the day! (hey, I'm not making fun, I'm going to graduate school to study *killology*).

It reminded me of the Chinese character for "man" that consists of "power" over "field" - a man is the power that works the fields, before they really figured out about animal domestication and such.

I find all this fascinating. Sometimes it really pisses me off that I have to eat and have shelter, because otherwise I would so quit my job and cocoon myself in my own library, learning about etymology and accumulating degrees and letters after my name. Sigh.

What are you going to school for again?
hey again! I didn't realize you wrote back. I wonder if you will see this, anyway. Right now I'm at UC Berkeley getting a PhD in Comparative Literature, doing Medieval Literature: Old English, Middle English, Old French, and Medieval Latin. I'm working on travel literature, monsters, journies, and alterity.
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