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BL: dog
Posted: 28 April 2015 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been meaning to do this one for ages.

Today’s Oxford Words Blog got me off my butt.

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Posted: 28 April 2015 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Interesting! On a personal note, I had forgotten that Dexter (pictured) was a beagle. We also just rescued a beagle puppy last November and traveled cross country with her. They’re great! I won’t tell her that we don’t know where the word dog comes from. She’ll be heartbroken.

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Posted: 28 April 2015 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Actually, that’s Lila. Dexter passed away a few years back. Lila is a Foxhound-Beagle mix, the size of a foxhound, but with beagle coloring and ears.

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Posted: 28 April 2015 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Douglas Harper at etymonline has

Old English docga, a late, rare word used of a powerful breed of canine. It forced out Old English hund (the general Germanic and Indo-European word; see canine) by 16c. and subsequently was picked up in many continental languages (French dogue (16c.), Danish dogge), but the origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology.

. did you find anything that suggests that it might have been the name of a specific breed of canine which then crowded out hund? It might have been his guess and the use might only have been oral, as you suggest.
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Posted: 28 April 2015 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I found this academic paper by Piotr Gasiorowski,

In John of Trevisa ‘s 1398 translation of Bartholomew de Glanville’s “De proprietatibus rerum” (quoted in the MED), an explicit distinction is drawn between them, and a common dogge is stereotypically characterised as heavier and shaggier than a well-bred hound: “A gentil hounde [Lat. canis nobilis]
... hap lasse gleissh pan a dogge [Lat. canes rurales] and schorter here and more pynne.”

Do you agree that this might be the “breed” that Harper thinks “forced out” hund by the 16th c?

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Posted: 28 April 2015 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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That canis ruralis dogge sounds like an Old English Sheepdog, one of the loveliest and most amiable of all dog breeds, and – being a member of the working classes – certainly not “gentil”

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Posted: 29 April 2015 03:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Old English docga, a late, rare word used of a powerful breed of canine.

I have no idea where Harper gets this from, unless it’s the Trevisa quotation. The evidence from OE is very thin and says nothing of this kind.

The Trevisa quotation is an oddity, which is probably why Gasiorowski cites it. No other quotation in the MED makes that or a similar distinction. When dog is used to refer to a specific type, it is always accompanied by modifiers or contextual indications, for example bere Dogges for dogs used in bear-baiting. Gasiorowski concludes, based on the Trevisa quote and the other quotations that use a modifier+dog to refer to a large breed that the root dog had a connotation of a large dog. I don’t agree. The Trevisa quotation is an outlier, and the fact that dog needs a modifier in order for it to refer to a large animal means that the plain dog is a generic term.

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Posted: 29 April 2015 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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As I recall, in German Dogge refers specifically to large breeds, but if, as you say, it’s borrowed from English, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the original sense.

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Posted: 30 April 2015 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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This thread calls to mind the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. According to Wikipedia (may its tribe increase!), dogger is the name of a kind of Dutch fishing boat. Does anyone know why a fishing boat should be so called? Did (or do) Dutch fishermen use dogs for fishing, as the Portuguese do (or used to do, at any rate)?

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Posted: 30 April 2015 03:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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OED says the origin is uncertain. Good guesses are that it is from either dogfish (any of a number of varieties of small shark) or dogdrave (a type of cod).

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Posted: 30 April 2015 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hello, everyone.

I’m the author of the article mentioned above. I suppose we agree with Dave at least as to the possibility that OE docga was a hypocoristic word and so unsuitable for use in serious literature. By the way, pig is not the only other animal name with apparently a similar structure (an OE weak noun with a final -cg- ~ -gg- in the root). I list a few more in my article; frog is the only one with plausible external connections and something like an etymology.

For whatever it’s worth, there’s also a Late ME source (Promptorium parvulorum, ca. 1440) which defines Dogge as shyppe-herdys hownde : Gregarius. Thus it seems to contrast the two terms. The immediately preceding entry is Dogge : Canis. It looks as if dogge had been slightly ambiguous at the time, being already used as a generic ‘dog’ word but retaining a more specific meaning as well.

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Posted: 30 April 2015 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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lionello - 30 April 2015 01:28 AM

This thread calls to mind the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. According to Wikipedia (may its tribe increase!), dogger is the name of a kind of Dutch fishing boat.

It occurred to me that Dutch Wilipedia might cast more light on this, maybe with a link to Dogger. It turns out that Dutch text adds little: “De aanduiding ‘dogger’ is afgeleid van het oud-Nederlandse ‘dogger’, dat vissersboot betekent, met name voor de kabeljauwvangst.” The term ‘dogger’ is derived from Old Dutch ‘dogger’, meaning a fishing boat, in particular for cod fishing. There’s also a reference to Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands with a link, which actually goes to a selection of dictionary sources.

The dictionary page is fairly heavy going for my very limited command of Dutch, but ‘dogger’ seems to mean a cod fisherman, a type of boat or a type of fishing tackle. Looking further down the top dictionary extract, ‘dog’ is given as Middle Dutch for cod. However, it says that it’s not clear whether Middle Dutch ‘dog’ is from Middle English or vice versa. It does suggest that the name of the Dogger Bank is from the abundance of cod there.

I’m now well beyond my competence here, so I’ll stop!

Dave mentioned ‘dogdrave’, a word I’d not come across. Some connection with Middle Dutch ‘dog’ for cod?

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Posted: 30 April 2015 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Welcome, Piotr! Looks like Lionello’s instincts may have been right re: the Promptorium quote. Gregarius is an interesting word which refers to flocks and herds and from which our adjective “gregarioius” comes.

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Posted: 30 April 2015 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Also “egregious” = out of the herd.

Seconding oeco’s welcome.

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Posted: 12 May 2015 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Late to the game due to a short holiday.
Hope I am allowed some speculation.

During the Roman occupation, Britain was known for its large fighting, guarding, war dogs i.e. the forerunners of the mastiff lines.
There is an Old English word “docca” meaning muscle, and I wonder if this started as a “muscular hound”, then shortened. Long gap but I am sure that the larger dogs did not die out when the Romans left.

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Posted: 12 May 2015 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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There is an Old English word “docca” meaning muscle

Not that I’m aware of. It doesn’t appear in the OE Online Corpus. Are you sure you’re spelling it right?

Addition:

There is the word finger-docce, which is a plant name and appears in several glosses. It glosses digitalium musculorum/munusculorum/masculorum, which may be where you get the muscle connection. It may refer to a plant in the foxglove family. The literal meaning is obscure, but the second element in such OE terms is always a plant name, so it is likely docce, the modern dock, which is a well-attested OE plant name.

[ Edited: 12 May 2015 12:34 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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