Etymological stuff.

 

I do not know why I like to know where the words come from, it’s something that has always captivated me. You hear a word, you know what it means and enough, but when you discover the original meaning, the time and space from which it comes, or rather the idea that you have of that world, opens up before you, and the more ancient the more fascinating it turns out, above all because for some reason that articulated sound has survived hundreds of years, even millennia, many and more often than can be imagined in principle, because languages are made of a very malleable material, it is difficult to read a book of a few hundred years ago although it is written in the mother tongue.

Perhaps this taste for archaisms comes from the time I read about the decipherment of the Hittite language (Indo-European Hittites, not the previous ones), when the researchers found out that “water”, in English, was said in Hittite “wasser “, The same root. Maybe my interest started much earlier, I liked Latin in high school, I was not lucky to be able to study Greek because they changed the program of studies, when the dictatorship ended. In addition Castilian is a rich language that contains a significant number of Arabisms, “Ojalá”(hopefully), “Aljibe”(cistern), “Almohada”(Pillow) …, although today in this globalized world, is not a novelty, and all languages have many influences of very different languages, but when you are a child living in a regime of closed doors to the rest of the world, anything foreign was exotic.

Not long ago I discovered that the Japanese, it is difficult to believe, seem to have eliminated for ethical reasons the word “noise” which was originally the symbol for “woman” repeated three times, as forest is tree + tree + tree, replacing it with the anglicism “noise”, it never ceases to amaze me how disciplined they are in Japan, normally languages evolve in a much more random way. The fact is that rummaging through the Sumerian electronic dictionary of the University of Pennsylvania, I have stumbled upon a curious reference and I know, it is not the usual pastime of the majority, the curious thing is that was not difficult, it was the first word of the letter L, namely the word “la” or exactly “la6”. That is represented as:

la6

It means “flood”, and like most words of a single syllable that are usually the oldest, it comprises a series of related meanings: moisture, soaking, etc. But the grace of discovery is in its akkadian equivalent, which by fortune provides the ePSD, and presumably is as old as the sumerian term. The egyptians called their river, “Iteru” or divinized “Hapy”, nevertheless the name by which we all know it today, the experts make it derive from the arabic word “nalah”, that means “valley” or river, although at the moment in arabic “river” is said “wadi”, for what I know, but well the point is that the Greeks, the classics, when they do not call it “Aegyptos” call it “Neilos”, from there “Nile”, without it is very clear who took the term from whom.

“Nilu” is the akkadian term for “flood”, a word that very well defines the behavior of the Nile before the construction of the Assuan Dam. It is necessary to remember that the Semitic languages originally only wrote the consonants, so the consonant root “nl” of the word “nalah”, makes the interpretation of its origin from arabic, since it is related with akkadian, perfectly valid, however, this precision probably allows to trace the origin of the word three thousand years at least.