“Hist” - This reads like one of the many yarns we read about. 
Posted: 14 July 2013 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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"Hist” This reads like one of the many yarns we read about.

“Some linguists believe that the oldest word is hist—listen!” Silence Like Scouring Sand | Kathleen Dean Moore | Orion Magazine

[ Edited: 15 July 2013 09:04 AM by droogie ]
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Posted: 14 July 2013 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Which linguists believe that the oldest word is hist?

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Posted: 15 July 2013 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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No linguists.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Physiologically, wouldn’t the first word have to have been something like mama, dada, or papa?*

Kind of a cool website and interesting East meets West in North America approach. (The mag is published out of MA but a lot of the articles seem to focus on the West.) I have no idea what the author is getting at but “hist” is defined as an interjection on various dictionary websites. It sounds just barely familiar.

*edit: Or baba/bebe for that matter, one of the proposed origins for “baby” isn’t it?

[ Edited: 15 July 2013 11:09 AM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 16 July 2013 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Reminds me of the tale Herodotus tells of the Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus who, wishing to find out which was the original language, kept two infants isolated from birth and hired a man to constantly spy on them. Eventually the man reported that the children had uttered their first word, bekos, the Phrygian word for bread, whereupon Psammetichus conceded that the Phrygian language was older than the Egyptian and had the honour of being the first language of mankind.

There’s about as much scientific rigour to that as the stuff on hist, but it’s a far more entertaining read.

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Posted: 16 July 2013 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Which brings to mind the Afrikaans word for food, “kos”.  I just wonder what its etymology is and whether it has any connection with “bekos”.  Where is Dutchtoo when we need him?

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Posted: 16 July 2013 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve just found this on wikipedia about Afrikaans “kos”:

From Proto-Albanian *ku̯āt-so, from Proto-Indo-European *ku̯at(h) ‘to ferment, become sour’. Compare Latin caseus (“cheese”), Latvian kûsât (“boil, simmer, seethe”), kusls (“stiff, weak”), Old Church Slavic квасъ (kvasъ, “sour dough, sour drink”), Gothic 𐍈𐌰𐌸𐍉 (ƕaþō, “scum, froth, foam”).

It seems as if “kos” and “cheese” are linked etymologically. However, that doesn’t really answer the question - how did the word make the leap to Afrikaans?

Dave, make this into another thread if you think it’s appropriate.

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Posted: 16 July 2013 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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That’s from Wiktionary, not Wikipedia.

I’d question the Proto-Albanian link, unless they mean that it moved from Proto-Albanian into Latin some two thousand years ago, in which case I’d like to see some evidence. That etymology is not well written. One reason that Wiktionary, unlike Wikipedia, is a terrible resource is that lexicography is a rarefied skill. It’s not something that can be crowd-sourced. Hunting for citations can be farmed out to the masses, but the entries need to be written and edited by trained lexicographers. In contrast, an encyclopedia entry only requires subject-matter expertise and reasonable writing skills.

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Posted: 17 July 2013 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Hear, hear!

[Added to satisfy stupid software.]

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