Thursday, April 28, 2022

Language Of Confusion: Flats, VI

We’re still doing this! It’s week six! The Proto Indo European plat-, spread, and its root pele-, flat or to spread, are the spawn point for just so many words. Most of them you can kind of see, but some of them…
Floor comes from them, which makes sense since fields are generally. It descended from the Old English flor, which means… floor. It’s not rocket science here. It’s from the Proto Germanic floruz, from the Proto Indo European plaros, flat surface. That’s from pele-. and there’s no real explanation for why the P became an F, but that’s something that happens a lot anyway.
For another example of P to F: field. It comes from the Old English feld, which is just a field or farmland, and before that the Proto Germanic felthan. That’s from the Proto Indo European pele-tu, from pele-, so I guess the lesson here is that for some reason Germanic languages change Ps to Fs. Related to field is the word veldt. I mean, it makes sense since a veldt is basically a field, but in terms of spelling none of the letters they have in common are even in the same positions. Veldt showed up in 1785 and is Afrikaans, which of course is from the Dutch veld, which means field. I guess the Dutch switch Ps to Vs instead of Fs.
You want to know what else is related? Poland. Yes, the country. It’s actually a mix of Pole (as in the people) and Land. Pole showed up in the mid seventeenth century, actually from the Polish polanie which means clearing or field dweller. That’s from pele-, meaning that the Polish people took their name for themselves from living in flat fields. And no, no other version of pole is related, nor is polish. But polka, the music, is related. Well, probably. It showed up in 1844 and is thought to be from Polack, which is of course from Pole. And that’s polka where we get polka-dot, because people named the dots after the dance in around 1849.

And I can’t believe it, but we’re done!


  1. Polka music: a form of torture under the Geneva Conventions.

  2. Is this the first time a country has come up in one of these posts? It might be interesting to see where some country names came from. Like, I know America, but other countries might not be so straightforward, I'd imagine.

    Okay, you should be able to email me today. I'm commenting from home. When I comment from school, suddenly it won't let me "log in". It's been working fine up until they updated our commenting section. Deep sigh. (I know, I should be working at work, but I need to do something during the occasional dead time.)


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