Saturday, January 24, 2009



Roy has left several comments. They are clearly intended to be funny. Since I am sure that only the most audacious (read: bored) DeGrypis readers venture into comments, I will answer them here.

Roy writes:
So scot-free is unrelated to the people of Scotland. Could it be that the English gave Scotland its name because the Scots didn't pay their scots?
Via Wikipedia*:

The name of Scotland is derived from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels. The word Scoti comes from Greek Σκωτία derived from the word Σκότος (Skotos), which means darkness and refers to the fog and long winter nights of Scotland.

Roy writes:
So what about slugs? What came first, the word slug for a slow thing or the little slimy critter?
The quality predates the animal. 'Slug' is an entity defined by slowness and heaviness (perhaps more accurately here, density). Its origins are Scandinavian cf. Swedish dial. slogga to be slow or sluggish or Norwegian dial. slugg a large heavy body, sluggje a heavy slow person. It is thus we also have, in English today, bullets referred to as 'slugs,' although by no means slow moving, or 'slug-fest,' a fight characterized by many heavy blows exchanged. 'Slug' as a 'slow, lazy fellow' is first attested, via the OED, around 1425:
c1425 Castle Persev. 2341 in Macro Plays, A, good men! be-war now all of Slugge & Slawthe,{th}e fowle {th}efe!
Our slimy little friends do not appear until 1704:
1704 PETIVER Gazophyl. ii. §xvii, This resembles our small Slug, and like it, is whitish below, but brownish above.
And finally, Roy writes:
You make the field sound like a subset of anthropology based on language. Presumably it's more than that?

Also, how can it be just a coincidence that the English word DAY is from a different root? If this were a TV show about a pair of investigative philologists, they would share a funny look and then dig deeper.
The technical question first. We can trace the sound changes systematically through the Germanic branch (whence English) of PIE. These changes are consistent. They rule out the possibility of PIE base *dyeu-'to shine,' from which Latin dies. They fit, however, with PIE *dhegh-, which is manifest in Sanskrit 'dah'-to burn and Lithuanian 'dagas'-"hot season," The OED notes in this Germanic branch OE. {asg}, OFris. dei, dey, di, OS. dag, OHG./MHG. tac(g), G. tag, ON. dag-r, Goth. dag-s, and OTeut. *dago-z. Thus we establish this as the root. There is, then, nothing coincidental about it. In fact, it makes pretty good sense that these roots should look similar in the proto-language, as they share much in common semantically--the link between light and heat is basic.

Anthropology is the study of humanity (literally, Gk. ανθροπος- man). It is, by nature, a blanket discipline. Extraction of the study of language, the very trait which separates man and animal, from mankind is, therefore, impossible. The answer, then, is yes, but a very trivial yes. I do not think it is possible to completely separate most fields from anthropology, including linguistics-- modern or ancient (perhaps only pure science and mathematics, if that). Consider the fact that the remainder of academic disciplines lie in the social sciences or humanities.

*It is usually best not to look to Wikipedia for etymologies, as it is susceptible to the folk kind, but the multiple sources here appear sound.

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