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  1. Word Family - Check

    Introduction

    All English meanings of "check" derive from the chess term:

    checklist, checkup, checks and balances, checkers, checking account, checkered past, …

    All of them.

    Teaser

    check, chess, checkers, shah, Xerxes

    Full Text

    • Proto-Indo-European *tek- to reach for, to take, to obtain, to receive
      • Proto-Indo-European *téketi primary imperfective
        • Balto-Slavic *tektei
          • Lithuanian …
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  2. Word Family - Path

    Introduction

    Find the Path

    A few weeks ago, I picked up my phone to look up the etymology of "Pontic", but got distracted and looked up the etymology of "path" first. And it turned out they were the same! But wait, how does that work, cause Grimm's Law?

    *paþaz is …

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  3. Word Family - Crystal

    Dark Crystal 🔮 bonus family

    Teaser

    crystal, crust, custard, crustacean, cryo-

    Full Text

    • Proto-Indo-European *krews- to harden, to freeze
      • Proto-Indo-European *krustós hardened, frozen adjective
        • Hellenic *krustós
          • Ancient Greek κρύσταλλος krústallos ice, rock crystal [1]
            • Greek κρύσταλλο krýstallo crystal, ice
            • Latin crystallus
              • Western Romance
                • French cristal crystal
                • Spanish cristal crystal, glass, window …
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  4. Word Family - Camel

    June theme: Domestic Animals 🐕

    Teaser

    camel, gamma

    Full Text

    • Semitic *gamal- camel
      • Central Semitic
        • Arabic جمل jámal camel
          • Maltese ġemel camel
        • Northwest Semitic
          • Aramaic
            • Classical Syriac ܓܡܠܐ gamlā’ camel
          • Canaanite
            • Hebrew גמל gamal camel
            • Phoenician
              • Ancient Greek κάμηλος kámēlos camel
                • Greek καμήλα kamíla camel
                • Latin camēlus camel
                  • Old French
                    • English …
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  5. Word Family - Swine

    June theme: Domestic Animals 🐕

    Introduction

    I present two families for "pig" here, partly because Armenian խոզ xoz is derivable from either family (see footnote [1])

    Family 1, Indo-European *suH- pig, sow?", possibly related to Akkadian 𒊺𒄷𒌑 še-hu-u₂ and Sumerian 𒋚 šah; and family 2, Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰóryos: "pig", probably central PIE …

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  6. Word Family - Canine

    June theme: Domestic Animals 🐕

    Introduction

    I get a little speculative here, if not downright provocative. There are words for dog all over Eurasia that recall each other. These could be onomatopoeic, but they do not much resemble the common forms you find in words that actually used as dog sound …

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  7. Word Family - Olive

    May theme: Plants 🌱

    Introduction

    In which "olive oil" is redundant.

    The Greek and Armenian words are often interpreted as being from a Mediterranean substrate word. But then there's the Slavic *lȏjь: "tallow, suet". And then the Old Chinese lɯw: "oil, grease", which is plausibly from the Tocharian equivalent of Slavic …

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  8. Word Family - Pterodactyl

    April theme: Dinosaurs and Friends🦕

    Introduction

    Pterodactyl. Two cool realizations about Greek "pter-". 1) "Helicopter" is so strongly segmented as "heli-copter" in English, it's fun to realize that the Greek construction is actually "helico-pter": "twisting (helix) wing". 2) More recently I realized it's an awesome example of Grimm's Law: apply …

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  9. Word Family - Ankylosaurus

    April theme: Dinosaurs and Friends🦕

    Introduction

    Ankylosaurus! And as an unexpected bonus, I found Azhdarchid pterosaurs deep in the family, too. Pterosaurs are probably my very favorite Mesozoic animals (stay tuned for next week!). Also in this family: various spiders and snakes and fears and sins in various languages.

    I … read more
  10. Word Family - Centum

    January theme: 98, 99, 100! 💯

    Introduction

    This is the 100th Word Family Friday in 100 weeks, and the last before I take a break for a few weeks to work on infrastructure and pad my buffer. I originally had a different idea, but then I realized I of course had …

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  11. Word Family - Weasel

    Teaser

    virus, weasel, bison

    Full Text

    • Proto-Indo-European *weys- slime, poison, flow, melt
      • Proto-Indo-European *wisós action noun, zero-grade variant
        • Hellenic *wihós
          • Ancient Greek ῑ̓ός īós poison, venom
            • Greek ιός iós venom, virus
        • Indo-Iranian *wišás
          • Indo-Aryan *wíṣas
            • Dardic *biṣá
              • Kalasha biṣ poison
            • Sanskrit विष viṣá poison, venom, bane
              • Sauraseni 𑀯𑀺𑀲 visa …
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