Doublet Compound Name Request.

A reader writes:

I’d like to know whether there is a linguistics term for a compound made up of two doublets. I suspect the phenomenon is so rare – the only unforced example I can think of in English is “head chef” – that no-one’s ever seen the need for a term. But I’d love to have this confirmed. (I’ve read that literary Burmese delights in using such compounds, so perhaps there’s a term in Burmese – but I know nothing of that language.)

My interest stems from writing on the history of coffee in Indonesia and encountering the Indonesian compound “kopi kawa” (a tea-like infusion made from coffee tree leaves), both elements derived from Arabic qahwa. The transmission route from qahwa to kopi is well established, but perhaps paradoxically that from qahwa to kawa is unclear.

I suspect there is no such name, but it’s an interesting topic, and all thoughts are welcome.

Comments

  1. Don’t know any word for it, but there’s an example in Djenne Songhay: ayuu-maa “manatee”, in which the first word is the usual Songhay word for “manatee” and the second is the Bozo word for “manatee” (references and subsequent discussion at my blog).

  2. Also on a beverage note, it’s not uncommon to hear of “chai tea”. Pedants frown on the expression, but it’s definitely present.

  3. Excellent example!

  4. Hmm, I’m sure I have a few of these lurking in my memory. Some people speak of chai tea and queso cheese (although I wouldn’t). Then there’s the honorific compound adjective right royal. And French-speaking armies have a rank of caporal-chef.

    Edit: Ninjaed on the chai tea example.

  5. If only someone would write an opera named Aperture (which would have an Aperture Overture), starring a sovereign soprano.

  6. Aha! Apparently super sovereign is a term used in finance.

  7. head honcho?

  8. Subject matter comes close to being such a thing. The technical term is “tautological compound”. Classic examples include Old English holt-wudu ‘wood’ and word-cwide ‘words spoken’. Do both members of the compound have to be cognate?

  9. During the Russo-Turkish War there was a fortress known as крепость редут Сухум-кале, where all the words except Sukhum mean “fortress”.

  10. ‘Pizza pie’ would count, I think.

  11. Looking at the lists of doublets in Wikipedia, I can find “guest host” (e.g., Joan Rivers for Johnny Carson) and “beef cow” (distinguishing from dairy cow).

  12. In Erie, Pennsylvania, you have the Presque Isle Peninsula, both French and Latin for “almost island”.

  13. marie-lucie says:

    Piotr: Do both members of the compound have to be cognate?

    “Doublets” by definition are cognate, present in the same language but derived from the same ancestor by different paths. In most of the examples above the words are not cognate, they just mean (approximately) the same in different languages.

    Are chai and tea cognate, or is one original and the other a borrowing? In any case they are from different languages.

    Caporal-chef: These words are cognate, but not doublets since although they go back to the same root, the first one is a derivative of that root. Chef in this example indicates a rank immediately above that of caporal, not a different kind of caporal. But the word is a French compound, not a compound of semantically identical words in different languages.

    Head chef: These words are indeed cognate but very remotely! Chef here means “professional cook” rather than “head of the cooking team” (chef de cuisine).

    right royal : even more remote! but this is not a compound, right here is an adverb, similar in meaning to very or justly. And it is English, even though royal is borrowed from French.

    If you say “chai tea” or “queso cheese”, the two words mean the same thing and can be used in isolation (although one might be unknown to the listener): I drink chai tea/chai/tea. In right royal you can omit right but not royal. Similarly in right honourable (which does not belong in this discussion).

    Piotr: Old English holt-wudu ‘wood’

    English wood means two things: the substance trees are made of, and a place planted with trees, a small forest. Does OE holt (German Holz) have those two meanings? Semantically English wood patterns exactly like French le bois and could have been influenced by it.

  14. “Chai” and “tea” are indeed cognate – see http://www.languagesoftheworld.info/etymology/will-tea-chai.html

    Would “matcha tea” also count, even though only the second syllable of “matcha” is cognate to “tea”?

  15. Homer Mershon’s example reminds me that I’ve seen Майдан Незалежності (Maidan Nezalezhnosti, “Independence Square”) called Maidan Square in western reports. Maidan is the word for square in Ukrainian (and in Russian as used in Ukraine) of Turko-Persian origin. I feel like I see these kinds of doublets (not doublets in the sense of cognates, but you know what I mean) all the time when common words in the original language become proper names themselves, like Gobi Desert, where the Mongolian and Manchu term gobi could reasonably be translated as “desert”.

    @Marie-Lucie: Chai and tea are indeed cognate, borrowed from different languages that reflect forms used in different Sinitic languages, but ultimately from the same Proto-Sino-Tibetan root. The same character 茶 is pronounced chá in Mandarin and in Hokkien, to give examples in Modern Sinitic languages. In Sino-Korean, 茶 has two readings, 차 cha and 다 da, reflecting two different Sinitic forms.

  16. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    What about “River (English) Avon (Welsh: strictly ‘Afon’)”, of which there are many in England and quite a few elsewhere?

    Not the same thing, but another example of the English incapacity to understand or analyse Welsh names is the town of Barmouth, corresponding to Welsh Bermo, a shortened version of Abermawddwy, the mouth of the river Mawddwy. (There is no River Bar, not there, anyway).

  17. marie-lucie says:

    MH: ‘Pizza pie’ would count, I think.

    It would have counted when pizza was first introduced. Nowadays pizza is not “the Italian name for a kind of ‘pie'”. You can’t order “pie” if you want pizza, or vice versa. But I guess the words are cognates.

    HM: Presque Isle Peninsula, both French and Latin for “almost island”.

    Same meaning in different languages, but the words are not cognate! (if cognacy is your criterion).

  18. “Presque Isle Peninsula” – my first instinct was to reject this on the same grounds as marie-lucie, but since “isle” is cognate to “insula,” it is at least as good as my example “matcha tea.”

    Swedish has “huvudchef” – and the usual meaning (“CEO,” as far as I can tell from online searching) is different from that of English “head chef.”

  19. marie-lucie: For what it’s worth, if you’re in a pizza place you can get a pizza by asking for ‘a pie,’ at least in some dialects of English.

  20. English wood means two things: the substance trees are made of, and a place planted with trees, a small forest. Does OE holt (German Holz) have those two meanings?

    No, holt means only ‘wooded area, grove’ etc. (see every holt and heath in Chaucer’s “General Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales). OE holtwudu is an endocentric compound. The second member, wudu is its head, and the whole means ‘a wood, copse’, so the compound is genuinely tautological, holt and wudu meaning roughly the same thing in this case.

  21. “Pizza pie” – not cognates, at least according to the OED.

  22. Corn kernel? Maybe the diminutive on just one part disqualified it from the strictest requirements.

  23. The Swedish article for tautology also has some further examples: ‘basketkorg’ (‘basketbasket’, the goals used in basketball), ‘schlagerhit’ (e.g. a popular song from the Eurovision Song Contest) and of course, ‘chaite’.

    https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautologi_%28spr%C3%A5kvetenskap%29

  24. marie-lucie says:

    Square

    I think I have seen places called Place du Square in some small towns in France. Place as a location means ‘plaza, town square”, an open public space usually in the centre of a village or town. Square (/skwar/) is used for a kind of small, enclosed city park, and there are many in Paris, where the Places can be much larger but act as transportation nubs rather than places of tranquillity.

  25. Pendle Hill is along the lines of matcha tea. In the Celtic language of the neighborhood, it was called pen = hill. The Anglo-Saxons then called it Pen hill, or something close to that, which became Pendle, to which hill was added.

    I have the feeling there is another English place name like that, but I can’t call it to mind.

  26. Some people have etymological doublets as personal names: Étienne Stéphane Tarnier, James Jacob Ritty.

  27. Jim (another one) says:

    “head honcho?

    David, they aren’t cognate. “Honcho” is a Japanese coinage of two Sino-Japanese words that means’ “squad leader/elder.” No head involved. The Mandarin reading is ban4zhang3.

    I think “choucroute” is a compound of the “Djenne Songhay: ayuu-maa “manatee”, ” variety – the formatives are not cognate but they are semantically equivalent.

    “Footpath” seems like it might be formed from two reflexes of the same root, and it really is a redundancy, since there is already the distinction between a “path” where you walk and a “road” where you ride.

  28. Jim, path is a loan from Iranian (the majority opinion) or Celtic (according to some), and in neither case is it related to foot. Pathfinder does qualify, though, if the Iranian etymology is correct.

  29. CuConnacht says:

    The other English place name I was trying to remember is Bredon Hill. Some sources, of unknown reliability, say that the bre is from a Celtic word for hill. The don is either Celtic or Old English, with the same meaning. So either Bredon is a Celtic doublet (if the sources are right) or -don hill is an English one.

    To that add Beachy Head. The first word is said to be from Old French beau chief, beautiful head (land). So like matcha tea, the last two syllables are a doublet, and one very close to “head chef”.

  30. marie-lucie says:

    correction: places …. transportation hubs. As I was about to click “edit” I had to get away from the screen.

    MH: if you’re in a pizza place you can get a pizza by asking for ‘a pie,’ at least in some dialects of English.

    I don’t think this is true anywhere in Canada, or in most if not all of North America. You would be directed to a bakery instead.

    pizza pie : not cognate

    Thanks DMT.

    Jim (other): … “choucroute” – the formatives are not cognate but they are semantically equivalent.

    La choucroute is a reformation on surkrut, the Alsatian dialect equivalent of sauerkraut (says the TLFI). Le chou = ‘cabbage’. The second element croute sounds almost like la croûte ‘crust’ (note my old-fashioned spelling), but of course there is no crust in sauerkraut.

    Footpath : Not so redundant nowadays as opposed to bicycle path. There is also bridlepath where I suppose horses are or were walked.

  31. There is the figura etymologica, in which a verb and a noun of shared etymology are used side by side: ‘live your life’, ‘sing a song’, ‘jouer le jeu’, etc. Wikipedia claims that the term figura etymologica can also be used to describe any etymologically related words placed together, citing ‘chai tea’ as an example. I am not familiar with this more open definition, however…

  32. I thought of donkey burritos, then wished I hadn’t.

  33. I suspect that you could order a “pie” in almost any pizza restaurant in the United States and be understood. Bare “pie” might not be common in most of the country, but in any discussion in a pizza context, it would be understood. There is a restaurant I like in Newberry, South Carolina called “The Flying Pie.” The first time I checked it out, I expected it to be a bakery or a diner, but it’s actually a pizza place, and once I knew that, the name seemed fine.

    Using “pie” alone to refer to a pizza is (in my experience) only common in places, like New York and environs, where pizza is commonly served by the slice. In that context, “slice” and “pie” are two different units of the mass noun “pizza.” I just watched Do the Right Thing a few days ago, and in the movie, dine-in orders are typically measured in slices, while Mookie’s deliveries are measured in pies (although the whole pies are also just called “pizzas”).

  34. Path a loanword specifically from Iranian into (West) Germanic? Seems… odd, to say the least.

    Anatoly Liberman is unsure, but thinks it might be sound-symbolic.

  35. Pleonasm? Or is that only for unnecessary adjectives?

  36. TR: Not so odd if you believe, as the Philadelphians do, that Germanic started out in the East and migrated westward.

  37. Prune plum.

  38. Path a loanword specifically from Iranian into (West) Germanic? Seems… odd, to say the least.

    The tale I learned is that it dates from the Scythian incursions of the first millennium BC. “What do they call that thing they just cut through our forest?”

  39. @CuConnacht

    Torpenhow Hill has similar etymological ideas attached to it (Hill-hill-hill Hill):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpenhow_Hill

    I think Stephen Fry talked about it on an episode of QI, some years back.

  40. It’s only two roots, but there are several streams in England called the River Avon – from Welsh afon, “river”.

  41. Anatoly Liberman is unsure, but thinks it might be sound-symbolic.

    That’s a typically Libermanian thing to say. Of course no-one would seriously claim that path is an Avestan loan. For one thing, it must be later than Grimm’s Law, which rules out Avestan (it had been extinct for centuries when Grimm’s Law operated). Those who propose an Iranian source mean one of the Northeast Iranian languages of the Pontic steppe zone, possibly during the Great Migrations, i.e. in post-PGmc. times. What makes this etymology attractive is the perfect phonological match. The weak stem of PIE *pent-oh₂- ‘road, path’ is *pn̥t-h₂-, yielding Iranian *paθ- (cf. Avestan paṇtā̊, gen./abl. paθō, not Liberman’s “pad“), hence *paθa- after thematisation.

  42. marie-lucie says:

    pizza/pie

    I frequently buy pizza by the slice, and very occasionally a whole pizza. I have seen “pizza pie” in writing (though not on menu boards or advertising flyers), but I don’t think I have ever heard it. In my experience, people wanting a whole pizza order it by the size: a small, medium or large pizza. Perhaps this is a Canadian habit!

  43. marie-lucie says:

    path, etc

    Piotr: The weak stem of PIE *pent-oh₂- ‘road, path’ is *pn̥t-h₂-,

    I remember reading long ago that the root is the same as for Latin pons, pontis ‘bridge’ (Fr pont, It ponte, etc), the semantic link ibeing that in areas of marshland, including tidal marshes such as the delta of the Pô (il Pado) the paths were wooden structures built above the water level (as they still are in nature parks in similar environments). Possibly the migrants brought with them a similar technique, or an improvement, which was unknown among the Germanic tribes, since ordinary paths on the ground are created spontaneously by people and animals regularly walking along the same lines and there would seem to be no need to borrow a word for them.

    Anatoly Liberman is unsure, but thinks it might be sound-symbolic.

    I am always amazed at the use of “sound symbolism” as a catchall phrase for the most varied cases for which there is no obvious explanation. Never mind that the same sounds can be considered “symbolic” of a multitude of different concepts.

  44. Still seems a bit fishy to me, especially as “path” isn’t the most natural word to borrow. Are there other examples of Iranian loanwords in Germanic? And when would Scythians (or other Iranian speakers) have been in contact with specifically Germanic speakers?

  45. It might have passed through East Germanic. We don’t find path in this sense in Gothic, but we have so little Gothic that that hardly counts as evidence against it.

  46. You occasionally see “chakra wheel”, “chakra cycle”, and “cycle wheel”.

  47. @marie-lucie: In the U.S. you could order a pizza by saying any of the following:

    1. “I’d like a large, with mushrooms and extra cheese.”
    2. “I’d like a large pizza with….”
    3. “I’d like a large pie with….”

    While (3) would be unusual to hear in much of the country, it would still be readily comprehensible.

    It occurs to me that most of the pizza places I got to nowadays (as opposed to when I was in college) serve mostly specialty pizzas with names. At a place like that, I would say, “I’d like a large Mexican,” or “… a large Mexican pizza”; but “… a large Mexican pie” would sound wrong.

  48. Using “pie” alone to refer to a pizza is (in my experience) only common in places, like New York and environs, where pizza is commonly served by the slice.

    What are these places where pizza isn’t sold by the slice?

    In Pittsburgh, slices are called ‘cuts’.

  49. And when would Scythians (or other Iranian speakers) have been in contact with specifically Germanic speakers?

    I’ve read in respectable books of archeology that Scythian raids reached the Atlantic; I don’t know what the specific evidence is. Germany and Ukraine aren’t that far apart, especially on horseback.

  50. marie-lucie says:

    Scythian raids reached the Atlantic

    Migrant soldiers would also hire themselves as mercenaries to whoever needed them, or failing that, “lived off the land”. At least one group (the Alans) is supposed to have reached Celtic lands and perhaps made themselves useful there (hence the Arthur legend and the popularity of the masculine name Alain in Brittany (and later France)).

  51. Are there other examples of Iranian loanwords in Germanic?

    Yes, a few. For example, Goth. waurstw (*wurstwa-) ‘work, deed’, which corresponds to Avestan vərəštuua- < *wr̥ǵ-two-m (Iranian *š nicely accounts for the unexpected /s/ in Gothic). There are also older (pre-Grimm) Wanderwörter from the East, such as *xanapi- ‘hemp’, and loans mediated by other languages, e.g. Proto-Norse *reβaz ‘fox’, borrowed from Finnic but ultimately of Iranian origin.

    Who knows why Greek κυριακόν ended up, substantivised, as ‘church’ in Proto-West Germanic, bypassing Gothic?

    And when would Scythians (or other Iranian speakers) have been in contact with specifically Germanic speakers?

    In Ukraine, Pannonia and elsewhere. First the Scirii and then the Goths settled in areas where contact with Iranian-speakers was inevitable. The Ostrogoths came to regard themselves as the inheritors of ancient Scythia. Some Iranian groups (such as the Sarmatian Alans) accompanied the East Germanic Vandals and the West Germanic Suebi on their trans-European migrations.

  52. I’ve read in respectable books of archeology that Scythian raids reached the Atlantic

    I don’t know about the Atlantic, but the Scythians used to raid the Lusatian culture settlements in what is now Western Poland in the early Iron Age (6th century BC). Characteristically Scythian arrowheads and axe-heads have been found among the remains of a fortified settlement at Wicina (Lubusz Voivodeship). The fort was burnt to the ground and archeologists found many skeletons of its hapless inhabitants. Judging from the evidence, the attack was launched in broad daylight and the victims were too surprised to offer any armed resistance.

  53. Да, скифы — мы! Да, азиаты — мы,
    С раскосыми и жадными очами!

  54. David Marjanović says:

    Most Mandarin words are such compounds.

    a tea-like infusion made from coffee tree leaves

    Kaffeestrauchblättertee. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

    The second element croute sounds almost like la croûte ‘crust’ (note my old-fashioned spelling)

    But of course both vowels in the Alsatian form are long (corresponding to more eastern diphthongs), so the loan must have been made or at least written down in a time and place where French had already lost the length distinction on closed vowels…

    Goth. waurstw (*wurstwa-) ‘work, deed’

    Is a sausage a piece of work?

  55. Two-wheeled bicycle.

  56. Kroonen derives Wurst (*wurstiz) from *wr̥t-ti-, though the connection between ‘twisting, turning’ etc. and sausage-making isn’t clear to me.

  57. That’s really ingenious, Y. Two and bi- are cognate, and so are wheel and cycle, so it’s an AB-AB pattern — a double doublet!

  58. marie-lucie says:

    Piotr: the connection between ‘twisting, turning’ etc. and sausage-making isn’t clear to me.

    I would think that pushing ground meat into guts (used for the ‘casing’) by hand would involve a lot of twisting and turning in order to get as much meat as possible into the thin, slippery casing, and (perhaps more significant) twisting the casing very tighly at intervals in order to pre-divide the finished product into ‘links’ or sections of manageable size.

  59. As far as the correspondence between pizza and pies goes, there’s a chain named Wise Pies in Albuquerque. It’s got a logo that looks vaguely Mafia-like, hence the word-play on “wise guys.”

  60. Possibly the migrants brought with them a similar technique, or an improvement, which was unknown among the Germanic tribes…

    They came from the Pontic steppes, which to my mind suggests that they used the word to refer to a steppe trail (perhaps one marked with cairns or mounds). There is a curious word found only in East Slavic and Polish, Russ./Belarus. панталы́к, Ukr. пантели́к, Pol. pantałyk. Nobody knows what its etymology is (Vasmer offers a couple of possibilities but doesn’t regard them as compelling himself). It occurs almost exclusively in the phrase сбить с панталыку ‘confuse’ (literally: ‘throw sb. off the панталык‘) . I wonder if there could be a connection with Iranian *pantaH-, the “strong” allomorph of the ‘path’ word. It certainly makes sense to equate ‘confuse’ with ‘throw off the track’. But it’s just a loose thought; I have no idea what the -lyk part could be.

    P.S. I see it was briefly discussed here: http://languagehat.com/desideris-tibetan/#comment-2065222

  61. P.P.S. It could be the very common Turkic suffix -lik ~ -lık forming abstracts, collectives, and nouns of location. For example, Turkish orman ‘forest’, ormanlık ‘wooded place’ (or something of the sort). A lost Turkic intermediary could work, but I’ll have to ask my Turkologist friends for help.

  62. marie-lucie says:

    David: la choucroute

    I have been trying to write a comment on this word, after consulting the TLFI, and twice my comment was thrown off just before it was ready to post. I might try again another time.

    Piotr: thrown off the “pantalyk”

    Even dirt trails sometimes have to cross water, whether a river or a marsh. Also, you can’t literally “throw” (if that is the literal meaning) people off a trail that is basically marked ground, but you can throw them off a bridge or other structure higher than the ground, whether permanent or temporary. I guess that the word does not mean ‘bridge’ or other built structure, but could it refer to something else which had a similar purpose? Unfortunately my Russian is very minimal and I can’t read the article mentioned above (I know the alphabet, but not much else).

  63. I have been trying to write a comment on this word, after consulting the TLFI, and twice my comment was thrown off just before it was ready to post.

    Send me the comment and I’ll post it for you. I do it for Piotr all the time!

  64. marie-lucie says:

    Merci, LH. I would do so for a long comment, but for a few lines it does not seem worth it. I will keep it in mind though, if la choucroute seems to deserve it!

  65. Marie-Lucie, Russian also has сбиться с дороги/пути which means precisely “get off the road/path by mistake” where the verb is exactly the same as in “pantalyk” saying.

  66. In New Haven and some other communities a tomato pie is a pizza.

  67. marie-lucie says:

    D.O.: Thank you for the information. I always try to understand what is going on, what words mean. I guess the word “throw off” put me on the wrong track. “Get off by mistake” is not the same as “be thrown off”.

  68. Trond Engen says:

    marie-lucie: “throw off” put me on the wrong track

    In English, a ship can be thrown off course by a storm. Metaphorically you can throw someone off course. Piotr’s interpretation of ‘pantalyk’ is exactly the same metaphor(s).

  69. I guess the word “throw off” put me on the wrong track.

    You could just as well say that it threw you off track.

  70. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you all for putting me back on track!

  71. ketunnahka, Finnish for “fox pelt” (kettu “fox”, nahka “pelt”).
    kettu originally meant “pelt”; the older word for “fox” is repo, as in the sister languages. (BTW, rubah, the Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia word, looks suspiciously like the Farsi word روباه/rubah.

  72. marie-lucie,

    Lat. pons, pontis is of course from the same root, but the meaning ‘bridge’ is specifically Latin. Such a specialisation (but in a different direction) can be found in Armenian hown ‘ford’ and Greek πόντος ‘(open) sea’. The development ‘road, track’ > ‘sea’ is not so surprising if you consider that sea routes were to the Greeks what paved roads were to the Romans: the sea connected distant places rather than dividing them. The old meaning survived in πάτος ‘(trodden) path’. In Balto-Slavic we have reflexes of the zero grade, Old Prussian pintis ‘way, road’, and the o-grade, Slavic *pǫtь (OCS pǫtь, Russ. путь, Old Polish pąć, etc.), meaning things like ‘way, path, journey’. In Indo-Iranian we see evidence of an ablauting stem with a characteristic “laryngeal” suffix”, *pént-oh₂-/*pn̥t-h₂- (Ved. pánthā, gen. pathás) ‘way, path, road, course’ (also figuratively ‘manner’ etc.). The details, famously conserved in Avestan, show clearly that the suffix has a vowel of its own, and so is a real suffix, not part of the root. Some reconstruct the Indo-Iranian noun with o-grade in the root to account the variation found elsewhere, but we may be dealing with independent derivatives of the verb root *pent-. Somewhat surprisingly, this underlying verb is attested only in Germanic — Gothic finþan, ON finna, OE findan ‘find’ (English has generalised the Vernerian variant) — and perhaps in Greek if πατέω ‘tread, walk’ is not denominative (opinions vary). Cf. also OE fūs ‘ready to go, prepared for a journey, eager’ < *pn̥t-to-.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    Piotr, just what I needed to learn! Thank you for taking the time.

  74. “courtyard” is another “matcha tea” example

  75. marie-lucie says:

    courtyard : Yes! both elements are une cour in French. But the English meanings are slightly different in their connotations.

  76. I think mollymooly meant that the end of court comes from the same PIE root as yard.

  77. marie-lucie says:

    KI, I don’t think mollymooly would say that.

  78. ə de vivre says:

    Re: ‘road’ > ‘sea’. Don’t forget the Old English kenning for the sea ‘hron-rād’, whale-road. While trying to find the exact form, I discovered that Wikipedia has a page devoted to a list of kennings, which also lists segl-rād ‘sail-road’, hwæl-weg ‘whale’s way’, and a proto-Proustian swan-rād, as other road-based kennings for the sea.

  79. marie-lucie says:

    The Angles and other ancestors of the English had to cross the sea to get to “England”, and once there they had to cross more seas to travel to other lands, or for the shortest route from one cape to another in the deeply indented coastline.

  80. I’ve thought of two examples in modern Greek, but I’m not sure they fall into this category, as the words involved are not cognate, but they do come from different languages and mean exactly the same thing. 1) the expression «χρόνια και ζαμάνια», the first word being Greek, the second foreign, both meaning “years” (as in “I haven’t seen him for chronia and zamania” meaning “I haven’t seen him for ages.”) 2) the expression «κόσμος και ντουνιάς», again one word being Greek, the other foreign, both meaning “world,” here in the sense of “people” (as in “Did many people attend the conference?” “Cosmos and dounias,” meaning “there was a real crowd.”) They are very interesting emphatic tautologies.

  81. marie-lucie says:

    Ariadne: irrelevant to this thread, but interesting:

    In French too le monde ‘world’ can be used to mean ‘people’, especially in large numbers. So “Did many people attend the conference?” could be Est-ce qu’il y avait beaucoup de monde au congrès? which could be answered with Oh oui! Il y avait un monde fou! (lit. ‘there was a crazy world’, meaning ‘a huge crowd’).

  82. Jim (another one) says:

    Piotr,
    “Kroonen derives Wurst (*wurstiz) from *wr̥t-ti-, though the connection between ‘twisting, turning’ etc. and sausage-making isn’t clear to me.”

    Think of how you make link sausage – you twist them to define each link. Maybe…

    But then how does he account for that “s” you pointed out.
    “As far as the correspondence between pizza and pies goes, there’s a chain named Wise Pies in Albuquerque. It’s got a logo that looks vaguely Mafia-like, hence the word-play on “wise guys.”

    There’s a pizza place in downtown Seattle called “Serious Pie”.

    Juha, Piotr, you’re over in the same end of the continent – does the fox have a kind of aura of mystery and menace in the folklores of that area? That would account for word taboos and substitutions if that’s happening. In Irish there is a word for “fox” – “sionnach” but it is never used for an actual fox, which is called “madra ruadh” “red dog”. The word is too potent to use.

  83. marie-lucie says:

    Jim (another one)

    sausage : you confirm my hunch about twisting, etc. earlier.

    the fox : In medieval Europe the fox was the embodiment of trickery. In medieval French there was a compilation of popular animal tales of Germanic origin, put together as Le roman de Renart ‘the saga of Renart’. The main character Renart (Reginhard) the fox is a trickster, and the other main characters (out of a cast of dozens) are Ysengrin the wolf (Eisengrin) and the bear (whose name I forget), who are often the dupes and victims of Renart’s tricks. There was at the time a French word meaning ‘fox’, le goupil, from Latin vulpillus, but this name was almost entirely replaced by le renard.

    I wonder if the fox had earlier been a kind of pre-Christian Devil figure, which became relatively harmless (except to chickens) as some of its nefarious attributes and activities were transferred to The Devil, Satan.

  84. For those observing Lent: shrimp scampi?

  85. There’s some discussion of Renart/Reynard here and here.

  86. Ahem. Though OE rád is the ancestor of ModE road, it does not mean ‘road’; it is a deverbal noun meaning ‘(an event of) riding’, and does not come to mean ‘path, way’ until early modern times. So hron-, swan-, seglrád mean ‘the riding of the whales/swans/sails’, and therefore ‘sea’ by a kind of metonymy. In Scots, where the shift of OE /aː/ to ME /oː/ did not operate, there was a different semantic shift from any old ‘riding’ to ‘riding out in order to steal or take prisoners’, Modern Scots raid, borrowed into English by (as usual) Walter Scott.

  87. But then how does he account for that “s” you pointed out.

    It isn’t the /s/ that is a problem in this case but the /t/: one would expect *wr̥t-ti- > *wr̥ssi- (the normal treatment of PIE *-t(s)t- in Germanic) > PGmc. *wur(s)si-. I’m not sure how Guus Kroonen would explain the /t/ — he doesn’t discuss the details in his etymological dictionary.

    In Gothic waurstw, the /s/ is unexpected, since *wr̥ǵ-two-m (from the root found in work, wrought, wright) would have given PGmc. *wurxtwa- and (unattested) Gothic waurhtw. One can adjust the reconstruction and posit *wr̥ǵ-stwo-m > *wur(x)stwa (with cluster simplification), thus in Kroonen’s dictionary, but this is ad hoc.

    As for the fox — it’s stereotypically wily/sly/cunning in Poland, much as it is elsewhere (which is reflected in standard collocations: szczwany lis, lisia przebiegłość, lisek-chytrusek). In traditional folk tales foxes are con artists, tricksters and thieves, though I suppose most people today regard them as simply cute (except hunters and poultry owners, of course). The word for the animal, lis, is the same as elsewhere in Slavic (modulo gender: some languages prefer the feminine version lisa). It has no obvious etymology or external connections, not even in Baltic. Lithuanian lãpė, Old Prussian lape, Latv. lapsa don’t really match *lisъ despite some superficial similarity. The Baltic words can reflect *h₂lop(eḱ)-, but the Slavic one is an innovation. It could be a taboo replacement, but then Slavic has lexical innovations even for ‘dog’, ‘horse’ and ‘cow’.

  88. marie-lucie says:

    JC: I am glad you brought up the etymology of road, ride and raid. I was wondering if there was a connection between the first two and if road had started with a different meaning. Thank you for answering my unasked questions!

  89. I’ll just throw rice pilaf into this scrum.

  90. marie-lucie says:

    Right on!

  91. The split of OE rād into road and raid has made off-road rally raids possible.

  92. marie-lucie says:

    Rally too?

  93. You missed a chance to say “Rally? Really?”

  94. There may be moon months too, in lunar calendars.

  95. @m-l, I don’t think that’s what Piotr meant; rally is from French rallier.

  96. marie-lucie says:

    TR, I did not mean to imply that rally was from the same root. It seemed to be just alliteration, but I was not sure of the meaning in that context.

    A rally in French is un rallye (pronounced /rali/). It means two things:
    a) a fun event gathering cars, motorcycles or other transportation in order to participate in a kind of race, usually without a fixed itinerary but requiring specific actions (like locating an unusual site, performing certain actions, taking pictures, etc) and ending in a stated location where prizes will be awarded according to various criteria;
    b) (a more recent meaning) a social gathering organized by a group of upper or upper middle class parents of young people in order to have them get acquainted with potential marriage partners even years ahead of time, in order to ensure that those young people do meet a choice of pre-approved, socially suitable partners.

  97. Indeed, the relevant part is the “off-road raid”, an etymologically oxymoronic doublet compound.

  98. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, I get it!

    There are also off-road rallies, like the main part of the famous or infamous Paris-Dakar (which may have been discontinued), which crosses or crossed the Sahara.

  99. ə de vivre says:

    JC: Neat, I’ve been carrying that phrase around in my brain for years now. Turns out it’s an even more interesting story than I’d thought.

    Relatedly, the previously opaque (at least to me) Hampton Roads now makes more sense as a parallel extension of the original meaning “riding expedition, journey” > “narrow stretch of sheltered water”, which apparently is older than the more common (but not original) sense as a “prepared surface for travelling on”.

  100. Ariadne, I don’t know Modern Greek, but there are probably a bunch of these, since (as I understand it) Greek has borrowed from French, and also has words re-nativized from Ancient Greek. Do keep looking.

  101. Modern Greek has borrowed even more from Turkish, which is the source of both the words she mentioned (ζαμάνι from zaman and ντουνιάς from dünya).

  102. Right, but those wouldn’t make doublets with inherited Greek words, unless they came into Turkish from an IE language like Persian (dünya is from Persian, which got it from Arabic; zaman is directly from Arabic.)

  103. The story of rally is interesting too. It started out as the French verb rallier, from re- ‘again’ and allier ‘unite’ (< L alligare ‘bind to’ and > the English verbs ally and alloy). This came into English as the verb rally in the military sense of ‘regroup for united action, as dispersed troops’, which then gave us the zero-derived noun rally ‘such a regrouping’ > ‘an attack after a retreat’. This was then used in boxing in the sense ‘back-and-forth succession of blows’, and then in tennis in the related sense ‘back-and-forth succession of hits to the ball’. At some point, this English noun was borrowed into French as rallye, no longer tied to rallier; this was then reborrowed into English as rally(e) ‘gathering of automobile enthusiasts’ > ‘race’. Basically verbal ping-pong over the centuries.

    There is a second verb rally ‘mock, tease’ in English < Fr railler, which has the doublet rail ‘attack verbally’.

  104. Aujourd’hui.

  105. Note that roadway is not etymologically tautological: it meant ‘riding-way’ originally. Also, some common expressions, like ready for the road, on the road (on rāde) and, I suppose, one for the road originated when road still had its old meaning.

  106. Hampton Roads

    Ships ride at anchor, is that the connection?

    Danish has red for an established anchoring place, cognate with road/raid. See Slaget paa Rheden (the h is decorative).

  107. Oh my, can’t believe I missed this. I don’t have the skills to evaluate these critically, but there’s a dusty box in the back of my head with a bunch of things that may or may not qualify:

    guerrilla warfare
    licorice root
    razor rash
    lord steward
    worry wart

    Is there any chance that the recursive emphatic additions in “every” fit one of the templates being discussed here?

    I’ll hang up and listen, if the show’s still going.

  108. @TR, well spotted!

  109. I’m reading Elena Veltman’s 1853 novella “Viktor,” and I just came across the following passage, which for obvious reasons I had to quote here: “Невскій-проспектъ съ своими новѣйшими новизнами и утонченными тонкостями” [Nevskii Prospect with its newest novelties and finest refinements].

  110. @Andrew, I don’t think worry and wart are cognate, but your other examples are all good (assuming we’re counting partial doublets of the matcha tea type).

  111. @TR, Thanks. I was thinking Wart (it’s a name, from a comic strip character) was like -wart in stalwart, but even then I might have been confusing PIE verbs of turning.

  112. The -wart in stalwart = worth.

  113. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I’m reading Elena Veltman’s 1853 novella “Viktor,” and I just came across the following passage, which for obvious reasons I had to quote here: “Невскій-проспектъ съ своими новѣйшими новизнами и утонченными тонкостями” [Nevskii Prospect with its newest novelties and finest refinements].

    In prerevolutionary Russia was there any useful difference between е and ѣ? Or between і and и?

  114. I’m not sure what you mean by “useful.” They sometimes distinguished between homonyms, but most people probably regarded them as annoying and difficult to remember, hence the reform.

  115. Let me quote verbatim from here

    The letter Ѣ in medieval Russian had signaled a diphthong /ie/, which subsequently merged with the vowel /e/, which in turn had been written with the letter Е. Once the merger was completed, Russian speakers had to learn by rote which words contain Ѣ (е.g., ѣсть ‘to eat’ /jest’/, бѣлъ ‘white’ /b’el/) and which Е (e.g., есть ‘is’/jest’/, меньше ‘less’ /m’en’še/). The elimination of the archaic letter removed an over-specification in rendering Russian vowel contrasts.
    [Let me remark here that in Ukrainian the merger went predominantly the other way around and ѣ became /i/. Which makes me think that the distinction might have remained in some southern Russian dialects]

    The distinction between І and И was functional in Greek, but it had never referred to a systematic sound contrast in Russian (a phonological contrast was assigned to them, however, in Ukrainian). In the nineteenth century the sign І (“десятеричное,” as opposed to И “восьмеричное,” following the numerical values of the letters in the Church Slavic tradition) was written before another vowel letter or й. It was also used to differentiate visually homophonic words, e.g., миръ ‘peace’ ≠ міръ ‘world’.

  116. Small point: the element division in matcha (まっちゃ/抹茶) is < matsu (まつ/抹/[literally] pulverize) + cha(ちゃ/茶/tea).

  117. The distinction between І and И was functional in Greek, but it had never referred to a systematic sound contrast in Russian (a phonological contrast was assigned to them, however, in Ukrainian).
    This probably needs some commenting. Both Russian and Ukrainian have sounds /i/ and /ɨ/. In Russian the letters corresponding to this sounds are и (from Greek η) and ы (ligature of ъ and і). In Ukrainian, i is used for /i/ and и is used for /ɨ/ probably reflecting some complicated history of East Slavic sound shifts, but for that you will need someone with real knowledge to chime in.

  118. David Marjanović says:

    Which makes me think that the distinction might have remained in some southern Russian dialects

    There are indeed rumors that the distinction still exists in some unspecified Russian dialect. Unfortunately that’s all I know.

  119. @marie-lucie: English wood means two things: the substance trees are made of, and a place planted with trees, a small forest. Does OE holt (German Holz) have those two meanings?

    Yes. The “small forest” meaning is not in general use (= I’ve rarely encountered it), but it is among hunters and out in the country. “Das Holz steht gut” and “ins Holz fahren” are the examples Duden gives.

  120. Here’s another slippery data point for ‘pie’ = pizza: Pi Pizza in D.C. and other cities. They spell it Pi in the website name, Π on the sign outside, which actually says “Pizza Π Beer”. (Need ocular proof? See Google Street View here.)

    Two more examples of bilingual redundancy without shared roots:

    1. Interleaved: I may have mentioned this one here before: a menu offering a Roast Beef Sandwich on French bread “with au jus sauce”. If I remember rightly, it was at the best restaurant in Bowling Green, OH, which also offered “best vegetarian menu in town!” and “best steaks in town!” or words to those effects. (It’s a small town, so both were true, at least when I lived there 15-17 years ago.)

    2. Antithetical: Google tells me there’s a food truck in Austin, TX called “Big Ass Burritos” and I have seen the same name in Ontario (probably Stratford) though the latter may not have been the actual business name. This one is half-tautology (ass = donkey = burro), half contradiction in terms (big vs. -ito). Of course, it’s arguably not a contradiction if the menu item is bigger than the average burrito and smaller than the average donkey.

    P.S. It’s amazing how many changes one can make to a shortish comment in 15 minutes. I think I’m up to 5 or 6, with 4:54 to go.

  121. I would call “big-ass” metonymic. In “Big-ass burritos” it refers not just to the size of the burrito, but to the proud consumer of such an extravagance.

  122. Well, in US politics every state has two senators representing it, and the one who’s been there longer is the senior senator. And one might loosely refer to the Presbyterian priesthood (although you would be rapidly told that you mean the Presbyterian ministry).

  123. marie-lucie says:

    MH: Roast Beef Sandwich on French bread “with au jus sauce”. If I remember rightly, it was at the best restaurant in Bowling Green, OH,

    Bowling Green is far from being the only place where “au jus” is misunderstood.

  124. Was au jus sauce consumed by Iriduvarans Sultan?

  125. Was au jus sauce consumed by Iriduvarans Sultan?

    Please explain — Google is not being my friend.

  126. Never mind, I just read this comment.

  127. Finnish naisasianainen is made up of nais- (the combining form of nainen “woman”) and asia “thing, matter, cause, issue” and is translated as “feminist”.
    wiktionary

  128. Trond Engen says:

    Norw. kvinnesakskvinne is an exact match. From Swedish both of them, no doubt, and quite possibly ultimately from German.

  129. Well, okay, but doesn’t that mean ‘female feminist’? When I went to take a college course, the professor asked me if I was a feminist. I unhesitatingly replied yes, but dropped the course after a few weeks, having gotten tired of being the object of ritual flayings beginning “All you men think ….” Fortunately, I didn’t get defensive enough to mistake this rhetoric for the actual content of feminism.

  130. Trond Engen says:

    No, sure, it means “womencause-woman”. I’m following up on juha’s tangent.

    (To tange even further, there’s a reason why I hesitatingly translate kvinne first as “women’s”, then as “woman”. Kvinne is a rather technical term, to the point of being borderline obligatory common gender slash masculine. It’s formed by reinterpretation of the compund form née genitive plural seen in kvinnesak.)

  131. I should make clear that the flayings came from other students, not the professor.

  132. David Marjanović says:

    Norw. kvinnesakskvinne is an exact match. From Swedish both of them, no doubt, and quite possibly ultimately from German.

    Nope. We have not tried to calque Feministin.

  133. Kvindesagskvinde in Denmark is so twenties, or at least pre-war. (Ngrams does not have a Danish corpus).

    Then people were busy with other things for a few decades, and when I grew up, ardent feminists were mainly thought of as rødstrømper — some sort of left wing echo of the Blue Stockings. I don’t remember if it was a term of self-identification, but feminist was in there as well and it slowly took over.

    Hippie generation men were working on their gender roles almost as much as the women were, but didn’t self-identify as feminister yet. That started in the nineties or possibly the zeroes. By that time gender-specific terms for occupations and the like were only available for comic purposes, and nobody ever felt the need for specifically male or female forms of feminist.

  134. Trond Engen says:

    Although not obsolete, kvinnesakskvinne is somewhat old-fashioned in Norway too, as in “more likely to be used in historical contexts than in a cebate of current affairs”. Kvinnesak is still current for all purposes.

  135. Danes tend to be complacent, and hey look, we just had a government where the three most important posts were all held by women (who were not coincidentally the leaders of the three parties in the coalition) — the war must have been won, right, no need to go on about women’s rights any more.

    Of course that’s not true, but the cause isn’t in the public eye at all. And now there’s a right wing government consisting almost exclusively of dire middle-aged white men — the few women are in charge of children, education, equality, food quality and the environment, health, old people, and social affairs, not important things like money, cars and wars.

    Plus one who seems to be in charge of channeling xenophobia in a deniable way — the Minister for Aliens, Integration and Housing, who came up with the ‘confiscate anything the refugees own’ plan.

  136. -Nope. We have not tried to calque Feministin.

    Weibfrau?

  137. (tries to get his head around such a bizarre compound, fails)

  138. David Marjanović says:

    Woman-woman, the first part pejorative (or hopelessly obsolete). 😐

  139. Yes, well, that’s what makes it hopelessly bizarre. “I saw a wench-woman in the courtyard yesterday”? Impossible. Pure Aimee Semple McPherson, along with “that round orb of day” and “a cathedral of stately grandeur”.

  140. I only got about a page into that review before I broke down in laughter. On the other hand, I already knew what I needed about the good Mrs. McPherson’s literary style by then.

  141. If you liked Aimee, you might like Amanda Ros, as Amazon likes to say.

  142. marie-lucie says:

    I remember Amanda Ros! One of the greats.

  143. I wasn’t laughing at Aimee, but at the sheer exuberance of Dorothy Parker taking the bit between her teeth and being as snarky as she knew how to be, having found a subject utterly deserving of a total lack of restraint.

  144. We have not tried to calque Feministin.
    I think the nearest we have is Frauenrechtlerin (“women’s rights activistress”).

  145. David Marjanović says:

    True; that strikes me as more specific.

  146. Frauensachenfrau

  147. 🙂

  148. January First-of-May says:

    It is said that there is a lake in Finland (and/or Karelia) called Jaurijarvi, which is Sami and Finnish for “lake”. Retellings of this story usually attach the words for “lake” in 2-3 other languages as well (the Russian one makes sense if it’s indeed Karelia).
    Apparently the lake does exist, but I couldn’t find out where exactly.

    On-topic – I know a few examples of Russian phrases where the two components etymologically *mean* the same thing (an English example would be “lunar month”), but none – in Russian or any other language – where the two components etymologically *are* the same thing (other than the ever-confusing “chai tea”).

  149. David Marjanović says:

    Apparently the lake does exist, but I couldn’t find out where exactly.

    Harmonize the vowels, tell Google that you don’t mean Jauhojärvi, and it finds about 95 hits for Jaurijärvi.

  150. Alon Lischinsky says:

    @marie-lucie:

    Head chef: These words are indeed cognate but very remotely! Chef here means “professional cook” rather than “head of the cooking team” (chef de cuisine).

    Pity English didn’t go for chief chef instead, which for a while was giving head chef a run for its money.

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