September brings cooler weather, though not cold, I am wearing a shirt at the desk in the mornings again, for the first time in a couple of months. But both the balcony and side doors are open and the cat is still trying to sleep on my feet as I work, which is a sure sign that it is still hot enough. When it gets cold he prefers to go and sleep elsewhere, for a reason only a cat would understand.
[caption id="attachment_12986" align="alignleft" width="300"]
Oops, someone left the water running.[/caption]
But, while I am at the desk I wonder what the oldest word in the English language is. Why do I wonder this? I have no idea, it’s one of those things only a writer would understand, I suppose. I did a search, online, to see what would come up as the oldest word(s) in the English language and the two top results caught my eye. One was from the Daily Mail and I thought, ‘What would they know? They will probably suggest ‘scandal’ and ‘tripe’ or somesuch, and the other was the BBC. So, caught between a rock and a hard place I went to the BBC first.
[caption id="attachment_12987" align="alignright" width="300"]
How many village bar owners in one place? (Opening of the Jean & Tonic)[/caption]
Well, remind me not to apply to Reading University if I want some thrilling word action. “Reading University researchers claim "I", "we", "two" and "three" are among the most ancient…” I was hoping some something like ‘Frahduk’ or ‘Gristwell’, ah well. Apparently the clever folk at the university used computers to analyse the change in words over time and also predicted some words that would go out of use first. They came up with the likes of ‘Squeeze’, ‘Guts’ and ‘Stick’ for reasons only university researches would understand. I was rather hoping for ‘Daly’ and ‘Mail’ and ‘Referendum’ but it looks like they are here to stay. The rest of the knowledgeable BBC article was about scientific research on word development and the use of computers to calculate the rate of change in….
[caption id="attachment_12988" align="alignleft" width="198"]
At a party on Nimos recently[/caption]
When I woke up, I went to the Daily Mail, pausing en route to wonder about anagrams (Milady Ali, I aim daily, A laid Limy, et al) for no reason at all. And wouldn’t you know it? It was the same article as the BBC, only told in a little more depth. Example: 'If you look at "thou", "I" and "who", we can now tell they are probably at least 15,000 to 20,000 years old. The sounds used then for these meanings were probably very similar to those used today.' Interesting but still not the fun read I was hoping for. I went back to my search results:
Fart – Wikipedia. Yes, well I’d probably agree with that, and there are some people who do indeed live, breath and probably fart Wikipedia, and someone with no life on their hands but plenty of time has made up a whole page about Fart and claimed it is ‘one of the oldest words in the English vocabulary.’ I’d like to see their source for this claim. Apparently it is kin to the word ‘Ferzan’ which is Old High German. Poor old Germans always get the blame. I smelled (or smelt) a rat though, and things became more complicated on this Fartipedia page as I was told that this word appears in the old English song, ‘Summer Is Icumen In.’ “…where one sign of summer is "bucke uerteþ" (the buck farts).” So we’ve gone from Ferzan to something that sounds like a cat producing a fur ball, ‘Uerteþ!’ And I am not even sure what a ‘þ’ is.
[caption id="attachment_12989" align="alignright" width="225"]
Oldest English words[/caption]
Hope is restored as I look at my fourth and, you will be pleased to learn, final search result. “The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Dictionary of the First or Oldest Words in the English Language, by Herbert Coleridge.” Well, at least he has a literary name. So impressed am I by this and by the fact it is completely free, I have even copied the link, so click here
if you are a) interested, b) bored, c) still awake. I’m not going to list them all (phew!) but it starts with Aback, has some gems in the Ws, suck as Wluine, Woht and Wlatful, and ends with Ȝulping. I can only assume that ‘Ȝ’ is a Z. But that’s enough Ȝuling (yeling) from me, I detect a Ȝonie in your voice (yawn) so I‘m off.