Search Results

Fanciful etymologies on an “ancient history” site

"Lost in Translation? Understandings and Misunderstandings about the Ancient Practice of 'Sacred Prostitution'",  Ancient Origins: Ishtar was sometimes called the Goddess Har since she was the mother of the harlots. These “harlots” were not prostitutes as we know them, but priestesses and healers. These harlots were holy virgins serving goddesses such as Ishtar, Asherah, or Aphrodite. […]

Comments (34)

Poetical etymologies

Wondermark #829, 4/20, "In which pepper is explained":

Comments (27)

A Sino-Iranian tale of the donkey's Eurasian trail

By now, we have conclusively traced the path of the domesticated horse from the area around the southern Urals and Pontic Steppe through Central Asia to East Asia.  It's time to pay more attention to another equid, this one not so glamorous, but still redoubtable in its own formidable way:  Equus asinus asinus. Samira Müller, […]

Comments (11)

Not quite "CLOTHING & SHOES"

Note from François Lang:  "This is not photoshopped. I took this photo this afternoon in Rockville MD."

Comments (12)

The language of spices

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-thirty-eighth issue: “Mapping the Language of Spices: A Corpus-Based, Philological Study on the Words of the Spice Domain,” by Gábor Parti. ABSTRACT Most of the existing literature on spices is to be found in the areas of gastronomy, botany, and history. This study instead investigates […]

Comments (10)

Share your language

If you can't make up your mind what to do about something, then in French you would say "je suis partagé":  I'm torn or divided over it.  You can't decide what to do about it.  You can't make up your mind whether to be pleased or angry with something.  But the verb "partager" means "to […]

Comments (9)

Some Old Chinese terms relating to religion, mythology, ritual

[This is a guest post by Axel Schuessler] Some Old Chinese (OC) words that relate to religion, mythology and ritual, and words found in ritual literature (Yijing, Liji, Zhouli), have no Sino-Tibetan (ST) roots, but instead have connections with other language families.     For comparison, the first section of this paper will list (§1) Sino-Tibetan […]

Comments (25)

Mugshot, racketeering, listless …

Over the past few months, U.S. political events have given Ben Zimmer opportunity for some fun etymologies in his WSJ column: mug shot, racketeering, listless. There are plenty more targets Out There — like candidate, from Latin candidus (“dazzling white, shining, clear”); or debate, originally from Latin dis- (“apart, in different directions”) + battuere (“to […]

Comments (12)

"Stooping" in China

I never heard of it in America or Europe (seems to be a quite recent phenomenon — by that name — but see below for the deeper history of the activity).  Apparently it has taken off in China during the last year: Stooping Takes China by Storm as Zoomers Scour the Streets for Junk Cash-strapped […]

Comments (19)

Ancient eggcorns

The word eggcorn was originally proposed in a LLOG post almost 20 years ago — "Egg corns: folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreen, ???", 9/23/2003.  And the word is now recognized by most current English dictionaries and other relevant sources, which gloss it variously, e.g. — the  Oxford English Dictionary, ("An alteration of a word or phrase […]

Comments (148)

Crappy metaphor: slippers that make you feel like you're stepping on shit

Sign on the elevator doors of a Taipei department store:

Comments (11)

Chinese wéiqí, Japanese go, and English go

Some funny things happen when one tries to straighten out the relationships among these three names for one of the world's most challenging board games. First of all, if I put wéiqí 圍棋 / 围棋, the Chinese name of the game, into Google Translate (GT) and ask it to translate that into Japanese, out comes […]

Comments (9)

New definitions for "man" and "woman"

In case you hadn't heard: "Cambridge Dictionary updates definition of ‘woman’ to include trans women" By Timothy Bella, Washington PostDecember 13, 2022 A few paragraphs excerpted from the article: The Cambridge Dictionary recently updated its definitions for “woman” and “man” to include transgender people, becoming the latest dictionary to formally expand what it means to […]

Comments (33)