XIX век has an occasional series of posts headed “Words new to me,” and I thought I’d borrow it because in my reading of Ford Madox Ford’s The Fifth Queen; And How She Came to Court (1906; the first of the Fifth Queen trilogy) I keep coming across such words. Here are the ones I’ve noted so far:

aumbry (OED s.v. ambry), “A repository or place for keeping things; a storehouse, a treasury; a cupboard (either in the recess of a wall or as a separate article of furniture); a safe; a locker, a press” (from Latin armārium)

balinger “A small and light sea-going vessel, apparently a kind of sloop, much used in the 15th and 16th centuries” (“Its nature was already forgotten in 1670, when Blount could only infer the meaning of the word from old statutes”; from Old French baleinier ‘whale-ship,’ from baleine ‘whale’; “afterwards employed generically”)

anan (pron. /əˈnæn/, with the stress on the second syllable), a variant of anon: “orig. in response to a call = ‘In one moment; presently; coming!’; hence a waiter’s response to express that he was paying attention, or awaiting commands; thence a general mode of expressing that the auditor was at the speaker’s service, or begged him to say on; and in later use, a mode of expressing that the auditor has failed to catch the speaker’s words or meaning, but is now alert and asks him to repeat; = I beg your pardon! What did you say? Sir? Eh?”

tulzie (OED s.v. tuilyie) “A quarrel, brawl, fight; a noisy contest, dispute” (from Old French tooil, touil, tueil, ‘contention,” and thus a doublet of toil)

An interesting phrase and institution: Augmentation Court, “a court established by 27 Hen. VIII, for determining suits and controversies in respect of monasteries and abbey-lands; so called because, by the suppression of monasteries, it largely augmented the revenues of the Crown.”

Addendum. Two more:

springald (OED s.v. springal(d, n.2) “A young man, a youth, a stripling”; “attrib. as adj. Youthful, adolescent.” “Of doubtful origin; perhaps a formation < spring v.1 suggested by springal(d n.1 In very common use from c1500 to 1650; in 19th cent. revived by Scott.”

craspisces This one is so obscure it’s not in the OED; I take this explanation from Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Taylor and Francis, Ltd., 1857):

“I met with,” says he, “an Inspeximus of a grant made by Henry the 3rd, wherein is granted to the Bishop of Exon and his successors for ever omnes decimas Craspesiorum within Cornwall and Devon, and is confirmed to them by Edward the 2nd. This without doubt was of value, otherwise the Bishopps would not have been solicitous to have had a confirmation of itt, But it is a question of what it is, the word not being to be found in any of the Glosaryes, And I have asked many persons whose business lyes among the old Records, who never remember that they mett with any such word, But I think that I have since mett with the meaning thereof in the Patent Rolls of R. 2, wherein are those words de piscibus regalibus vocatis whales sive Graspes, from which word I suppose like Lawyers they make Craspesiorum, But if it only extended to such great fishes, it will be of no great value. — The word Craspisces is used in Bracton, not only for Royall fishes, but for any big fish whatever, And I take the word in the Grant to be of the same signification. Oct. 10, 1700.”


  1. I think aumbry is probably most frequently used nowadays for the cupboard thing in the chancel or sacristy where the sacred vessels and other bits and bobs for eucharist are kept.

  2. In the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (the Covenant books are serious vocabulary-expanders) the Aumbry of the Clave is a small room containing all the precious and dangerous stuff left over from the previous era.

  3. In the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (the Covenant books are serious vocabulary-expanders) the Aumbry of the Clave is a small room containing all the precious and dangerous stuff left over from the previous era.
    Is the name of a modern-days gene-testing outfit, Ambry Genetics, a reference to “the genome as a storage room for the expensive / dangerous stuff” too?

  4. Interesting speculation, but it turns out it’s named for a dog:

    The name ‘Ambry’ comes from the family dog. (Dunlop’s first choice, ‘Genomic Health,’ was already taken.) Dunlop recalls his sister, studying at Berkeley, leaving a 7/11 store with a pack of cigarettes. “A guy in a van with dogs in a box asks for a cigarette. She says, ‘I’ll give you the whole pack if you give me one of those dogs.’ He reaches in the box and says, ‘Here, take Ambry.’ So literally some gypsy named my company Ambry!”

    But then it goes on to say “James offers that ‘”Ambry” is a place where you find solace or peace of mind in a church or cathedral,’ which seems fitting somehow,” so they seem to have picked up a confused idea of Picky’s sense of the word.

  5. “Craspisces” seems like it’s the mutant twin of “grampus”
    basically means “fat fish”

  6. baleen, ambergris, grampus – more of our “whale” words are from French than I would’ve expected. I wouldn’t say they’re the first people to come to mind when I think of whaling.

  7. Al, it’s probably because whaling has been pioneered by Basques from France (the first Basque whaling foray is recorded in AD 1059 in Bayonne). Others were much later to the game.
    Language – thanks for the dogs and smokes tale, it made my day 🙂

  8. In Indian English, aumbry seems equivalent to Almirah, same latin root and all.

  9. I noticed that the Amazon page you linked to mentions Ford’s great novel “THE FOOD SOLDIER” (!)
    A couple years ago I read a string of something like 6 literary biographies, ranging from Conrad to Robert Lowell, and Ford showed up, in person, in every single one. This post might be the push that finally gets me to actually read something of his instead of just watching him pop up in other writers’ lives.

  10. marie-lucie says

    It looks like aumbry is a “doublet” of armory: the two words have the same ancestor but evolved in a different way.
    DR: Almirah:
    Thank you for the link, which derives the word from Portuguese almario, itself from Latin armarium like “aumbry”. The Latin-to-Portuguese derivation is very straightforward, but if almirah is attested only around 1875 (and even if actual use started much earlier), the Portuguese word once borrowed seems to have changed exceptionally rapidly. Could it be instead that almirah is of Arabic origin, like many Spanish and Portuguese words beginning with al?
    Whaling: the French word baleine and the Spanish ballena are apparently borrowings from Basque.

  11. m-l: Etymonline says s.v. baleen:
    early 14c., “whalebone,” from O.Fr. balaine (12c.) “whale, whalebone,” from L. ballaena, from Gk. phallaina “whale” (apparently related to phallos “swollen penis,” probably because of a whale’s shape), from PIE root *bhel- (2) “to blow, inflate, swell” (see bole). Klein writes that the Greek to Latin transition was “through the medium of the Illyrian language, a fact which explains the transition of Gk. -ph- into L. -b- (instead of –p-).”
    The OED gives the same etymology as far as ballaena.

  12. Gk. phallaina “whale” (apparently related to phallos “swollen penis,” probably because of a whale’s shape)
    Could that be the origin of the expression “to have a whale of a good time” ? Someone might object that “whale” here is just being used as a metaphor for “large”. But that would only strengthen my speculation.
    Take “whalebone”, for instance. I saw one of those last year in a documentary with footage of two copulating whales. Human reproductive activity is a pale joke in comparison.

  13. In the Cornish language ‘cupboard’ is: amari (pl amaris) and from Revived Late Cornish: ambri (pl ambris) while in Breton it’s ‘armel’. There’s probably an equivalent in Welsh which I can’t think of off the top of my head but in the modern language cupboard is cwpwrdd.

  14. “I met with,” says he, “an Inspeximus…The word Craspisces is used in Bracton,
    Inspeximus – we have looked at – the first word in royal charters and letters patent, it confirms a grant.
    Henry de Bracton.
    “…it largely augmented the revenues of the Crown.”
    Heh, heh, heh.

  15. A couple years ago I read a string of something like 6 literary biographies, ranging from Conrad to Robert Lowell, and Ford showed up, in person, in every single one. This post might be the push that finally gets me to actually read something of his instead of just watching him pop up in other writers’ lives.
    I recommend it; he’s a wonderful writer, almost forgotten nowadays. (Love The Food Soldier!)

  16. marie-lucie says

    JC: thank you for the etymology of phallaina. I had never run into it before. The ll would explain Spanish ballena. But I wonder about this Greek origin: are/were there whales in the Mediterranean?
    Grumbly: whalebone or baleen (the latter from French baleine ‘whale, whalebone’) has nothing to do with whale reproduction. It refers to the long, thin, tough but flexible plates hanging like a fringe from the upper part of a baleen whale‘s mouth. This material had a variety of uses before the advent of plastics. Perhaps its best-known one was for stiffening the corsets or “stays” which were part of Western women’s wear for several centuries. (See “baleen” in Wikipedia). In French, baleine (originally short for fanon de baleine) is also used for similar items made of plastic or metal, such as umbrella ribs. (Un fanon refers to a loosely hanging body part, like dewlap or wattle).

  17. are/were there whales in the Mediterranean?
    This site says so.
    The Hebrew Wiki entry on whales says that sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whale have been spotted off Israel’s coast.
    Large sea mammals seem to have been known in Biblical times.
    KJV Lamentations 4.3: Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
    I wonder if English whale and Greek phallaina are etymologically related.

  18. J.W. Brewer says

    Picky’s ecclesiastical sense of “aumbry” is the only one I have encountered in modern sources, including actual live conversation (admittedly in the specialized speech community of rarefied Anglo-Catholics, who could I suppose be as exotic as gamelan enthusiasts from some points of view).

  19. “I wonder if English whale and Greek phallaina are etymologically related.”
    our word for whale is halim, must be again a borrowing from sanskrit
    i mean that sounds as if like closer to whale than phallaina, but all of them have hal in there, so must be somehow are related

  20. all of them have hal in there, so must be somehow are related
    Yeesh. That must hold a record for the most misconceptions and errors in a mere 13 words, at least on this blog.

  21. really? why it should be so, if really all of them have hal in there and name one rather that, special animal, it seems it can’t be just a coincidence for hal occuring there
    sanskrit is one of the indo-european languages i understand whale could come easily from there, as is our halim borrowing
    i don’t know of course whether there is a word resembling halim in sanskrit though, sure
    i meant just if phallaina and whale could be related, halim and whale don’t sound that far from each other too
    i wish of course SFR would provide there a more convincing and helpful list of possibly related words

  22. marie-lucie says

    I started to write an explanation earlier, but had to interrupt my comment to check a reference online, and closing that link prevented me from getting back to the comment. I now try again.
    whale, phallaina, halim.
    The English and Greek word have a letter sequence “hal” but that apparently common sequence is a result of spelling, not word structure.
    – English “wh-words” (what, when, where, wheel, whale and others) were originally spelled with hw (which was closer than the pronunciation). Thus what was spelled hwaet, whale was spelled hwael, etc. (Here I use “ae” for a single sound, the same as that of the letter a in “hat”). In the PIE ancestor of English (and also of Latin and other languages), the corresponding words started with the complex sound “kw”, often written qu, as in Latin quid ‘what’, quan-do ‘when’, and many others. Close relatives of English also had hw originally but changed it to hv (as in Norwegian hval) or to w (later pronounced [v]) as in German Wal. As in English, these changes happened not just with a handful of specific words but with all those words which started identically in the ancestor of the language family.
    With the knowledge of how sounds correspond to each other in different languages of the same family, we could expect that if there was a Latin word corresponding to English whale (formerly hwael this Latin word would contain an element qual- meaning ‘whale’ or something very similar. There is such a Latin word, squalus referring to some type of large fish. This word begins with squal rather than qual, but many words in the IE languages correspond to each other in every respect except that some of them begin with s and others not, seemingly without a special reason. Squalus seems to be one of the s-ones.
    (Germanic scholars, do you know which language rorqual ‘a type of small whale’ comes from, and how it is or was pronounced in that language?)
    – Greek phallaina: Here again the spelling is misleading. The letters ph were used in Latin (and later in most Western languages) for Greek words beginning with the single letter φ (“phi”). The sound of this letter was originally a cluster of the sounds “p” and “h” but worked as a single unit within the language. (In most of the relevant languages this complex sound later became “f”). The root of phallaina is phall, same as for the word phallos meaning ‘swollen’. The root phall was not pronounced “p-hall” but “ph-all” or later “f-all”. Normally, a Greek word with the sound “ph” would be borrowed into Latin with “f”, but Latin has ballaena with “b”. To explain this anomaly, some scholars think that the Greek word was first borrowed into the Illyrian language (formerly spoken along the coast of the former Yugoslavia), with a “b” (something typical between Greek and Illyrian), then borrowed into Latin identically.
    So, there was no “hal” root meaning ‘whale’ or ‘large fish’ in English (and its Germanic relatives) or in Latin, Greek or Illyrian. As for “halim”, I am not competent in the relevant language(s) and cannot offer an opinion.

  23. marie-lucie says

    Paul O: thanks for reminding me about whales in the Bible. I had forgotten about the story of Jonah, and that of Leviathan.

  24. thank you for your explanations, M-l! very interesting to read
    i wouldn’t dare to propose halim to be related to those words of course, if it was not whale, so it’s different, okay, i can live with that 🙂

  25. M-L, the Leviathan is a different kind of a whale. In the Greek text of the Bible, it’s Mega Kētos (Great Cetus) rather than Phallaina. In Hebrew it was דג גדול, a sort of a giant fish, generally understood to be a whale, but the Greek Kētos was referred to a very specific mythological sea-monster, the one which Perseus turned into a rock with the help of Medusa’s head.
    BTW in Slavonic Bible, Kētos ended up transliterated rather than translated, and so in Russian, “kit” means whale. Apropos which, there is a classic Zakhoder’s children’s verse where a typo turns “kit” into a “kot” (whale vs. cat) and how academic science is called for help (and with the help of a linguist, the whiskered striped sea-monster’s problem is solved). E.g. in this cartoon 🙂.
    Latinized Cetus came to mean a whale, any whale, too. Spermaceti therefore designated the mysterious substance from the sperm whale’s sonar organ (an alternative spermaphallaini apparently didn’t make a cut 😉 ? ). Then, Cetyl alcohol has been isolated from spermaceti in 1817 by a French chemist. And so now we have a bunch of chemical and pharma products derived from “cetus”, most popularly, Cetaphil skin care brand (literally whale-loving, right 😉 ? )

  26. marie-lucie: I knew of the hw-kw phenomenon, but thanks for your fine elucidation. I suppose it’s similar to hound-canis, heart-cordis, hundred-centum and so forth.
    Rorqual seems to derive from Norwegian röyrkval “furrow whale”. More here.
    There is . . . a Latin word, squalus referring to some type of large fish
    The spurdog shark is a member of the Squalidae family, in turn a member of the order of Squaliformes.
    The Latin–>English side of my paperback Collins Latin dictionary doesn’t have an entry for squalus, but curiously does have an entry for squillus, which it says means prawn or shrimp. The English–>Latin side gives vulpes marina for shark. Surely apt, but leading in other directions entirely.

  27. English wh / PIE hw / Latin qu is convincing, but is it the only way wh/hw’s were derived? In a number of Southern Russian and Ukrainian dialects, Greek ‘ph’ is rendered as ‘hw’, especially in the beginning of the word.
    E.g. Greek pharos becomes Uk. dialect “hwara”. Or Latin ‘form’ becomes Southern Russian “hworma”

  28. marie-lucie says

    Thank you all for your comments.
    Paul O, I thought rorqual might be a spelling in another language, likely a Scandinavian one, but I could not find the word. The spelling qual must be an older one, replaced by kval in modern Norwegian spelling. (German Qual, meaning ‘pain’, is actually pronounced kval, and similarly Quelle ‘spring, well (of water)’ is pronounced kvelle).
    For Squalus I followed the OED. Vulpes marina lit. ‘sea fox’ or ‘sea vixen’, might be a late Latin phrase used instead of squalus, as Classical Latin words were either unknown to the illiterate masses or replaced by more colorful phrases. Similarly, in French, loup marin, lit. ‘sea wolf’, is one of the many names for a seal, the official name of which (phoque) is a borrowing from Greek (phoca).
    As for kw becoming hw, yes, it is part of the general Germanic consonant shift (Grimm’s law), but did not affect all the Germanic languages equally (eg the k is preserved in Norwegian).

  29. What is German Hai (shark) related to?

  30. marie-lucie says

    Dmitry: English wh / PIE hw / Latin qu
    I meant that Modern English wh (as in what) is a respelling from Old English hw (as in hwaet). Most varieties of Modern English no longer make a difference between wh and w (eg they pronounce which and witch identically), but some regioual varieties still maintain the difference, pronouncing wh as [hw] (just as in Old English), or even [fw] when the lips are more involved. I had an Irish landlord who said things like “for a fwile”.
    There was no hw in PIE. Germanic words belonging to the “wh” series are cognate with words in other languages originally starting with the sound kw, which in Latin was written “qu” (see my examples above). Because of the specific ways that most consonants in the Germanic languages correspond to those of most other IE languages, the Germanic family is considered to have undergone the most changes, while the other language families preserved more of the original PIE consonants. That’s why *kw, not *hw, is reconstructed at the PIE level.
    The equivalence of Greek ph, Uk etc hw is caused by a different type of phonetic change. I am not a specialist in articulary phonetics, but the aspirated consonant [ph] is a complex sound with labial closure ([p]) and simultaneous forcible expulsion of air ([h]). In order to expel the air, closure may be relaxed so that the lips are not fully closed (which is why original [ph] often becomes [f]). Alternately, labialization can be emphasized by rounding the lips, which prevents closure, thus producing a [w] instead of a [p] or [f], while simultaneously expelling the air, hence the complex sound [hw]. (The details are probably a little more complex – a phonetician would know). The first type of change, through relaxed articulation, is likely to happen in the course of the history of a single language, while the second type, a change of articulation, often results from borrowing from a language which includes sounds unfamiliar to the borrowers. Another Greek consonant unfamiliar to Slavic (or at least Russian) speakers was [th] (I use this here as in English), which was borrowed as [f]. That’s why Dostoyevsky’s first name was Fyodor not Thyodor (Greek Theodoros).

  31. M-L, BTW Fyodor is also famously drifting into Hvyodor, and Google search returns some 300,000 hits for Хведор. Dahl’s entry on letter F reads
    Ф, буква ферт, фе, эф, в церк. азбуке 22-я, в русской 21-я; в церковном счете под титлою значит 500; на юге произносят х и хв, и наоборот: Хведор, Хвилип, и фост, фат.
    which mentions that down South, both ex-ph’s and ex-th’s turn into hw’s equally often: Хведор (Hvyodor) for Theodor, Хвилип (Hvilip) for Phillip

  32. What is German Hai (shark) related to?
    It’s related to Norwegian hai (shark). Other than that, I’d be interested to know too.
    Nowadays, the Norwegian (at least where I live) for whale is hval with a silent h. I don’t know how kval fits in with kvalm (nauseous), but I bet I know who does.

  33. Marie-Lucie: Initial Indo-European /k/ is NOT preserved in Norwegian! The shift from word-initial Indo-European */kw/ to Proto-Germanic */xw/, then /hw/, is one hundred per cent pan-Germanic. Subsequently, however, /hw/ in some Norwegian varieties turned to /kv/, probably via a stage */hv/.
    This is very much like the case we discussed here recently of Latin SCHOLA and Italian SCUOLA: despite the appearance of continuity, Latin SCHOLA must have become /esk(u)ola/ before subsequently losing its initial /e/.
    Dmitry: I am certain that Russian/Ukrainian /xw/ served as a substitute for Greek /f/, not /ph/.
    Before Greek /ph/ turned into /f/ it was adapted into Slavic as /p/. Hence the “Russian” name STEPAN from Greek STEPHANOS. The same word entered Romance from Greek later, when /ph/ had become /f/: hence Modern Italian STEFANO.
    Originally Proto-Slavic lacked a /f/ phoneme, and it was only waves of borrowings from Greek and Western European languages which (ultimately) turned /f/ into a phoneme in Russian and most other Slavic languages (I believe that some varieties of Ukrainian and Serbian to this day lack a /f/ phoneme): but earlier loans adapted /f/ as /x(w)/.

  34. marie-lucie says

    Dmitry, I had heard of Hvilip for Philip before I heard of Fyodor from Theodor. What seems to be happening is that (whatever its origin in Russian) the sound [f], a “voiceless labial fricative”, is “breaking” into two components, the voiceless part represented by the [h], the labial fricative part represented by the [v] (the voiced counterpart of [f]). Again, this is probably not the most precise and accurate description from the point of view of articulatory phonetics.
    AJP: I thought I had copied kval from a list of cognates for whale in the OED (Onlind dictionary), but I just checked and indeed there is no kv in any of those words, only hw in Old English and hv or v in Scandinavian. I guess I COPIED THE WORD WRONG and did not realize it, and then relied on the word I had written.
    Norwegian kvalm: I suppose that kvalm is cognate with English qualm(s). Here is what the OED says about the English word:

    qualm (n.)
    O.E. cwealm (W.Saxon) “death, disaster, plague,” utcualm (Anglian) “utter destruction,” related to cwellan “to kill,” cwelan “to die” (see quell). Sense softened to “feeling of faintness” 1520s; meaning “uneasiness, doubt” is from 1550s; that of “scruple of conscience” is 1640s.
    A direct connection between the Old English and modern senses is wanting, but it is nonetheless plausible, via the notion of “fit of sickness.” …

    “Fit of sickness” is pretty close to “nausea”. The German Qual ‘pain’ is probably part of this set of words too.
    You might wonder why these words start with cw not hw (Old English), or qu not wh (Modern English). As mentioned above, OE hw, ModE wh, Nor hv come from PIE *kw. Here, OE cw, ModR qu, Nor kv cannot come from PIE *kw, instead they must come from PIE *gw (according to the rules of correspondence between Germanic sounds and those of most other IE languages).

  35. marie-lucie says

    Etienne, thank you for coming to the rescue and setting things right.
    Of course, I was wrong about the Norwegian form for whale, as I acknowledged just above. I must have made a mistake in copying the word.
    About Ancient Greek [ph] and Uk [hv], I should have realized that the Uk, etc change could not be very old. So my attempt at phonetic explanation had no foundation.

  36. It’s clear that Hai ‘shark’ is a Wanderwort, moving from one Germanic language to another from an ultimate etymon in Icelandic hái. It never got into English, but surfaces in Scots as hoe. (The native English name is sea-dog or dogfish, the latter still current for small bottom-dwellers including Squalidae.)
    Hái in turn is a short form of Old Norse hákall (> Russian акула). However, there are at least two explanations of this word current: one that it is a tabooistic compound hár+karl ‘great man’, the other that hak- ‘hook’ is the root, from the shark’s hook-shaped tail. This is certainly the origin of English hake ‘marine food fish species (Merluccius, Urophycis etc.) related to the Atlantic cod’ < OE haca or ON haki ‘hook’, but referring to the shape of the jaw.
    By the way, the first element of rorqual is from ON reyðr ‘whale’, cognate with rauðr ‘red’. The OED3 says: “Since whales are not red or even reddish, the semantic motivation for the name is unclear. It has been suggested that it refers to the animals as providers of red meat and was originally used to avoid a taboo on mentioning the whales’ name at sea.”

  37. marie-lucie: German Qual, meaning ‘pain’
    Qual is not used to denote specific pain (Schmerz), but a condition of intense suffering, as in the English “torment”, “agony”. Depending on the context, the verb quälen can mean “physically torture”, but primarily “torment”, “taunt”, “tease [unmercifully]”. Non-metaphorical “torture” is Folter, although of course all these words can be used metaphorically.
    quälende Unsicherheit [tormenting uncertainty]
    but also the jocular rhyming
    die Qual der Wahl [the agony of having to choose (between the red and the pink shoes, say)]
    Unlike the case with Schmerz (“der Schmerz ist unerträglich” [the pain is unbearable]), the singular form die Qual has a rather abstract meaning. The plural Qualen is applied to more specific things.

  38. Hai-hoe, hai-hoe. Thanks, m-l and John.

  39. I discussed English qualm vs. Norwegian kvalm and all their friends and relations in February. Nothing is absolutely beyond belief with this complicated word, but I very much doubt that hwael/kval/whale has anything at all to do with it.

  40. Bathrobe says

    According to Fishbase, the etymology of Squalidae is Latin, squaleo, squalidus = with rough skin. 1591.

  41. Non-metaphorical “torture” is Folter
    That struck me as an odd word, so I looked it up; it turns out to have originally referred to “ein vierfüßiges Martergestell” (‘a four-legged instrument of torture, rack’) and is from Late Latin poledrus ‘foal.’

  42. So that’s what the Duden etymology meant. I didn’t get it right off the bat. A German foal is a Fohlen. We can imagine that, 500 years ago, “I’m going to see a man about a horse” would have had more sombre connotations than in the 19C.
    To call an instrument of torture a “foal” is an early-modern example of cleverly deceptive branding. Much like “iron maiden”, although it seems this was a pilot product that was never actually manufactured.

  43. Both familiarity and contempt towards books became more common as books themselves did, due to the invention of printing. But familiarity can also breed fascination. The Revelation of Saint John, the bloodthirsty panoramas of Tertullian – these had their fans just like Saw today.
    It may be underestimating the consumer flexibility of your average Joeseph 2000 years ago, to assume that he couldn’t enjoy a good horror story.

  44. marie-lucie says

    whales and qualms
    JC: I discussed English qualm vs. Norwegian kvalm and all their friends and relations in February. Nothing is absolutely beyond belief with this complicated word, but I very much doubt that hwael/kval/whale has anything at all to do with it.
    Of course I did not include German Qual ‘pain’ in the whale group (which includes German Wal). I am sorry if I gave that impression. My error in copying Nor hval ‘whale’ as kval (the cognate of German Qual) must have contributed to the misunderstanding.
    Perhaps my mention of rorqual was another source of misunderstanding? I haven’t found which language the word is borrowed from, but I doubt that it is German, where whale is Wal, including in compounds: the word for ‘orca’ (also known as ‘killer whale’) is Mörderwal. The original language of rorqual is more likely to be a Scandinavian language which may have changed its spelling in conformity with current pronunciation, while English kept the old spelling. (On Etymonline the word does not have a separate entry but is included in the entry on “minke” (a type of whale), without etymological comment. I would be interested to know what the OED (Oxford ….) says about it).
    (Update after looking up your February post and the subsequent comments – starting Feb 21 at 11:05 pm)
    I see that the situation with qualm is much more complex than I thought, and I trust your research and argumentation.
    My final point was about why words in wh and qu (and the corresponding consonants in different languages) can coexist in the same Germanic language, not because some of them somehow escaped the rules of change, but because the initial consonants in question belong to two consistently separate series of consonant correspondences, which must date back to the proto-language, hence the PIE reconstructions *kw vs *gw respectively (which, of course, are not based only on the Germanic correspondences).

  45. marie-lucie says

    Bathrobe: According to Fishbase, the etymology of Squalidae is Latin, squaleo, squalidus = with rough skin. 1591.
    In this case, I was wrong in following Etymonline, which linked this word to the *kw-initial words for ‘whale’.

  46. OED s.v. rorqual:
    French rorqual (1789) < Nynorsk røyrkval (also †røyderkval ; compare Bokmål røyrhval), cognate with Old Icelandic reyðarhvalr < reyðar-, combining form of reyðr ‘kind of whale (apparently used for more than one species), arctic char’ (Bokmål røyr , in Nynorsk also as †røyder , now only in sense ‘arctic char’; rauðr ‘red’) + hvalr ‘whale’.
    Bokmål and Nynorsk are the two standard written forms of Norwegian, the first being basically Norwegianized Danish, the second a fusion/reconstruction of western Norwegian dialects. As such, Nynorsk is historically more closely related to Icelandic and Faeroese, but it is divided from them by deep morphosyntactic barriers that make it much more like the other continental North Germanic languages. This is like what’s happened to English and Frisian, which are historically nearest relatives, but since English has been loaded up with French and Latin influences, and Frisian with Dutch, Low German, and Danish ones, they no longer seem especially similar to each other.

  47. Trond Engen says

    I wish I had more time to nest in all this. Just some few points:
    – The origin in western Western Scandinavian seemed obvious but I didn’t know the word røyrkval. The semantics involving a taboo looked a little stretched until I looked up the meaning of ‘char’. I don’t think taboo is necessary for a species to be named after its meat. The most common Norwegian word for sheep, sau, originally meant “(meat for) cooking”.
    – I see that the etymology of char is unknown.
    – John Cowan is right about the hv- (pronounced v-)/kv- (usually pronounced k-) isogloss running through Norwegian. It’s one of the major (surface) phenomena separating Eastern and Western Norwegian and thus Bokmål and Nynorsk.
    – It follows that while Bokmål, Danish and Swedish have kv- from inherited *kw- and v- (written hv- in Da/NB) from *hw-, Nynorsk has kv- from both. Exceptions made for the usual complications from interdialect loans.
    – Bjorvand and Lindeman don’t connect hval to squalus. Instead they prefer a somewhat irregular derivation from an IE word for “big fish”, also present in malle. I don’t remember the cognates, and I shouldn’t be looking up etymologies now.
    – The modern Norwegian generic word hai “shark” is a back-loan from Dutch haai, in its turn from some North Germanic form of ON/OIc hár (I guess the dative singular). B&L prefer the etymology *hánha- “hook”. I didn’t know the other explanation, as a backformation from hákarl. I like it, but I don’t think it’s supported by the fact that several species of small sharks are named with as either first or last element.

  48. Trond Engen says

    ohn Cowan is right
    I meant to write “John Cowan is right, of course.” I’m no authority, and I shouldn’t make myself look like one.

  49. marie-lucie: I had an Irish landlord who said things like “for a fwile”
    Doric (the dialect of Scots spoken around Aberdeen) turns /wh/ into full-blown /f/

  50. My father used to parody his Irish-American accent (he also had a more ordinary Philadelphian one) by saying /fʍɒt ɪz pʰθæt/ for what is that?

  51. zythophile: Doric (the dialect of Scots spoken around Aberdeen)
    In a recent thread here about a Loeb translation of Theocritus into rusticophoney English, Evan told us this:

    When Edmonds began translating Theocritus I, he was looking [not] at a poem in the Doric dialect (because Sicilian shepherds spoke Doric), but a literary version of the dialect never spoken by anyone, written in sophisticated and polished hexameters. … Translators of the period were also fond of making Doric Greek sound like Scots, and Homeric Greek sound like the King James Bible. … Greek choruses were not written in hexameters, which were not considered appropriate for drama, but in ad-hoc combinations of rhythms, in a mild Doric dialect, which in this case would not connote any notion of rusticity.

    The WiPe article you link tells us a little more about this matter, why that Scots dialect is called “Doric”:

    The term possibly originated as a jocular reference to the Doric dialect of the Ancient Greek language. Greek Dorians lived in Sparta amongst other places, a more rural area, and were supposed by the ancient Greeks to have spoken laconically and in a language that was thought harsher in tone and more phonetically conservative than the Attic spoken in Athens. Doric Greek was used for some of the verses spoken by the chorus in Greek tragedy.

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