Don Ringe has been doing guest posts at the Log (I linked to them here and here); he’s posted a final one on Wanderwörter (words that travel between languages in a region) before vanishing into the maw of the new semester, and I thought I’d bring it to your attention.
And on the historical linguistics front, it occurred to me that some might be interested in the question of how to find English words that descend from a common root, explored in this AskMetaFilter thread.


  1. marie-lucie says

    English words from a common root: An obvious source is the American Heritage Dictionary addendum at the end, also reprinted as a separate (small) volume. It lists PIE roots and their English descendants (but not PIE roots which have no English descendants). The “descendants” include, rather indiscriminately, words descended from Proto-Germanic and therefore resulting from changes peculiar to the Germanic family, and words “borrowed” into English from other languages, especially Latin and Greek, the descent of which has followed other paths before being adopted in English. But it is a nice introduction to Indo-European for people who have no linguistic background.
    On the meaning of Wanderwörter: I think the crucial feature is that the origin of these words is doubtful, because although they may be widespread across the component families of Indo-European (like many words descended from PIE) they don’t quite follow the normal rules of word-formation and sound-change typical of the various IE languages.

  2. Dravidian.

  3. Dravidian.

  4. komfo,amonan says

    Whimsical pairings of words (usually English) with surprising common PIE ancestors are the staple commodity at Bradshaw of the Future.

  5. @ comment # 1
    American Heritage Dictionary is available at http://www.bartleby.com
    It’s a very good and resourceful site, although it mainly contains classical works and not utterly modern and contemporary literature.

  6. Is the title meant to echo “Bridge over Troubled Waters”?
    If so, nicely played.

  7. An obvious source is the American Heritage Dictionary
    Yes, that’s what I recommended in the AskMeFi thread. The latest (fourth) edition has Semitic roots as well.

  8. Huh, in my mind’s ear Professor Ringe’s name is /ˈrɪŋə/—I would never come up with Y’s question. How does he say it, Hat?

  9. /rindž/

  10. Thanks.

  11. Tha list of roots is a great asset, but could someone take pity on this “dirty prescriptivist” and explain why the list is called “IE roots” and not “PIE roots” and why none of the roots offered are preceded by an asterisk?

  12. marie-lucie says

    … explain why the list is called “IE roots” and not “PIE roots”
    Probably because the roots reconstructed for PIE are at the root of words in the IE languages.
    … and why none of the roots offered are preceded by an asterisk?
    probably because they were already identified as PIE. If they were included in a regular text, rather than individualized on a list, they would be set off from the ordinary words (eg by being written in italics) and provided with an asterisk.

  13. Mercy buckets, marie-lucie. I guess that having the reader take the usual caveats as read makes more sense than AHD having a native PIE speaker on staff to confirm the roots.

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