aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

Basic words

In Old English the words dead and deaþ (death) are both pronounced with two syllables. Their root would have been *diegan, though this is never recorded in OE texts. Perhaps it passed out of usage at an early stage (to re-appear in Middle English as dege (pr. dee). OE usually used words such as steorfan (starve, cf. German sterben), or resorted to euphemisms such as forðgan (lit., go forth, go away).

In any case, the adjective dead shows the participial form that so many English adjectives are constructed from. In origin, dead is the old way to say "died." Likewise, "death" shows the -th ending that we use in English for so many nouns describing a quality: warmth (the condition of being warm), tilth (ground being tilled, that is, farmed), strength (the quality of being strong), death (the condition of being dead).

Underneath our bloated vocabulary, stolen from every language on earth, English retains its Germanic structure. The basic building blocks of our language go back over sixteen hundred years to the cluster of mutually intelligible dialects spoken by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians.
Subscribe

  • What does the sign signify?

    I read an interesting investigative blogpost on the Eagle Rank recently which confirmed my impressions of what is going on with Scouting’s highest…

  • My goodness, has it been that long?

    This spring is the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. (It’s also the 30th anniversary of my Ph.D. commencement.) The three most useful…

  • On preaching

    My first appointment as a student pastor was in 1976. With only a year of seminary under my belt, I was made the pastor of three churches. Every…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments