Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Language of Confusion: Year

Yes, I’m really doing this. Being the first etymology day of the year, it seemed kind of appropriate.

Year can be traced back to the Old English gear (with a soft g sound), which is from the proto-Germanic jaeram. Jaeram can be traced even further back to Proto-Indo-European yer, which meant year or season. The word stuck in Germanic languages and is found in them today. German has Jahr, Dutch has jaar and Norwegian has ar.

However, other European languages haven’t kept it. French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italianhave variations of the Latin word for year, anno, not surprising considering they were part of the Roman Empire. Even English is not above Roman influence. Our annual is from the Latin annalis, an adjective form of annus, or year.

Even now there’s no escaping the Roman Empire.


  1. "Even now there's no escaping the Roman Empire."

    Why does that make me think of Monty Python? "You never expect the Spanish Inquisition."

  2. LOL @ Liz.

    My semi-related thought on the subject: It drives me crazy to hear people say things like, "It's our 6-month anniversary". Grrr. Chad and I got around that in the early days of our marriage, by inventing the term 'lunaversary'. And we've used it for the first of the month ever since. :)

  3. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unless the Roman in question is Caligula."


Please validate me.