I was struck by the word “serow” in the río Wang post “A litle sheet or serow of paper”; it turned out to be from a definition in the edition of Calepinus published in Basel in 1590: “Schĕdŭlă, ae […] Ang. A litle sheet or serow of paper.” I quickly realized it was a typo for scrow; what I hadn’t realized, but soon discovered, was that that archaic word, an aphetic form of Anglo-French escrowe ‘scrap; scroll,’ was the source of the modern English noun scroll, apparently by contamination with roll. So scroll and escrow are historically the same word. Anglo-French escrowe, says M-W, is “of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch schrode piece cut off, Old High German scrōt — more at shred.” (As it happens, there is an English word serow, referring to a kind of goat antelope; while irrelevant to the meaning of schedula, it may be of interest to AJP.)

The main focus of Studiolum’s post is not Calepinus but Sebastián de Covarrubias y Horozco’s Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611); for that milestone of lexicography, and the electronic version of it that Studiolum helped prepare, see his earlier post. Also, congratulations to Studiolum on being nominated for the 2011 Golden Blog of Hungary contest!


  1. j. del col says

    I would certainly wonder how critters similar to goats and antelopes could be involved.

  2. Dan Milton says

    Your blog has very long lines of very small grey type that make it a real pain to read.
    I don’t think it’s my computer, since no other blog gives me this trouble, so would you consider a reformatting?

  3. Dan Milton says

    Aha! When I go directly to your blog, the first line of this entry ends with “published in”. But normally I go through Google Reader, which eliminates the side matter so the line extends to “I quickly realized that”.
    I’m sure many of your readers check Google Reader for updates and none of the dozen or so others blogs I regularly read have this problem, so there’s still something you should look into.

  4. I don’t have trouble reading it. You’re not by any chance related to John Milton, the 17C poet and devotee of hopscotch?
    There have been a lot of interesting goat facts coming to light recently, such as the one about them being related to whales. It’s probably a bit late, but I’m starting a file.

  5. I don’t have any trouble reading it, either here or in Google Reader.
    AJP, I just wanted to write you that recently I discovered in Mallorca, in the village of Deià, next to the tomb of Robert Graves, a bronze monument to that Myotragus which, according to paleontologists, was halfway between goat and crocodile.

  6. j. del col (comment 1):
    You wonder what goats and antelopes could possibly have to do with scrolls? That’s easy: goat-skins make excellent parchment, and I suspect antelope-skins would, too. Whether any of the world’s words for ‘scroll’ actually refer to goats or antelopes, I do not know.

  7. How very interesting. Thank you for reminding me about that; I’d forgotten, and of course it ought to go in my file. I love your dragon research. By the way, for some reason that window in the cathedral reminds me of the entry to Louis Sullivan’s monumental (but probably much smaller) Merchants National Bank, in Racine, Wisconsin. I’m not sure what connection there could be. Sullivan devised his own decoration, but they may have a Moorish thread in common.

  8. …(and by Racine, Wisconsin I meant Grinnell, Iowa).

  9. John Roth says

    I don’t have trouble reading it either, but I can see how someone with certain kinds of vision problems might. It’s generally not a good idea to let lines run the full width of whatever screen the viewer has set up — unless that’s a fairly narrow width in the first place. It’s way too easy to skip lines while tracking back to the left margin.

  10. marie-lucie says

    Whose fault is it that the lines run way past the normal width of a page? I don’t have trouble with LH or other blogs I sometimes read, but I occasionally get emails that go way past the normal page width (and I don’t have a wide screen). Perhaps the reader needs to adjust page width on his own computer? (I don’t know how this is done).
    The gray type is only in the comments. The problem of comments width came up a while ago: opening the comments under “comments” makes the page narrow. If you open them under the date they conform to the same page width as the original post.

  11. marie-lucie says

    I mean I open them under the time.

  12. What a pleasure to see you again, marie-lucie! (Not that I have any answers for you.)

  13. The Wordnik site says “Origin unknown,” but I believe that the word serow is of Lepcha origin, or at least from a kindred “Himalayish” language of the region of eastern Nepal and Sikkim. I am not sure whether the word is the extensive glossary in Heleen Plaisier’s Grammar of Lepcha, but I believe that at one time she told me that the word would probably be “seraw” in the transliteration she employs.

  14. m-l!

  15. Old High German scrot
    Which has become today’s Schrot = buckshot, (coarsely ground) feed grain, etc.

  16. It just occurred to me that Schrott = “scrap metal”, “worthless crap” might be related. Duden confirms this.
    A scroll is a Schriftrolle or Buchrolle. A scrollbar is a Scrollbar. Rollbalken and Blätterleiste have effectively been rejected by the majority of English-crazed IT workers.

  17. Thanks very much for that etymology, odamaki!

  18. j. del col says

    Dr. Weevil:
    You do realize I was alluding to “serow,” right?

  19. Thanks for changing the color of the comments to proper black!

  20. You’re welcome, though thanks should be directed to Songdog, my stepson and site administrator (and the guy who insisted I start a blog)—I know no more about these things than my cats. We aim to please!

  21. And who says dogs aren’t as smart as cats!

  22. And here I thought you were discussing the present tense of “scrod”.

Speak Your Mind