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Today SMBC:

Mouseover title: "If anyone does this, please pour out a glass of eggnog antecedent beverage for me."

The aftercomic:


  1. AntC said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 7:03 am

    It's potentially every day

    Yep, it's whichever's earlier of the PIE root *kan- "to sing." > West Germanic *hannjo > "hen"; or the PIE *owyo-/*oyyo- "egg"

  2. David Marjanović said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 3:55 pm

    whichever's earlier

    That might actually be answerable, in a way.

    The "sing" root is probably *kh₂en- (i.e. */kχan/-, */kχon/-, */kχn/- in the three ablaut grades), and there's currently no reason to think it's derived from something else.

    Egg is probably derived from "bird" (*h₂éwis, as in Latin avis), though it's not clear how exactly.

    So, the rooster is older than the egg…

  3. Rob Chametzky said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 4:27 pm

    Somewhat on/somewhat off subject:

    Among* the events that Jim McCawley hosted at the University of Chicago was a Bastille Day celebration. The condition on attending was to bring food or drink native to (I don't actually recall the wording here) a place that had escaped /t hrown off the rule of French empire / imperialsim / domination. He immediately noted that this was rather easier than one might suspect, as a six-pack of beer from a Chicago-based brewer (Old Style was named) would qualify (as would beer from a St. Louis brewer).

    *He also hosted a Hangul Day celebration–the only holiday in the world, he said, that celebrated the achievements of linguists, so one that the community would do well to adopt.–and a St.Cecila Day, for which the attendance condition was being a linguist willing and able to participate in sight-read music making (Cecilia being the patron saint of music and musicians), where "linguist" was to be construed broadly enough to include, in his example, being a French Horn-playing philosopher.

    –Rob Chametzky

  4. Jerry Packard said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 4:58 pm

    Great post. We lost Jim way too soon. Going to a Chinese or Tibetan restaurant with him was truly a mind-blowing experience.

  5. AntC said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 7:03 pm

    Ref the comic, btw, pumpkins are New World, so clearly out of contention.

    Turnips ('nepe's/Latin 'napus') are older PIE-linguistically. I suspect the tradition of hollowing them out, cutting eyes and mouth and making a jack-o'-lantern is modern era — 1660's says etymonline, wp.

  6. Anthony said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 7:48 pm

    Also Jim McCawley's restaurant recommendations:


  7. Lasius said,

    March 29, 2023 @ 4:33 am

    @ David Marjanović

    The root for sing may be older than the one for egg. But domestic chickens were only introduced to Europe in the first millenium BC.

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