North East West South = NEWS

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Milander, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. Milander Member

    Hungary, English

    The word 'news' is a contraction of North, East, West and South, signifying that information arrives from all points of the compass. It is not a Plural.
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    That is so cute that I immediately suspect it to be completely false, an example of "folk" etymology. You would have to argue that "new" then comes from this rather than from the Greek.
  3. Milander Member

    Hungary, English
    Hehehe, yeah, it is cute, but David Crystal, Bill Bryson and others have used it as an example of how English develops new words... I'm taking it on faith that he's right, but he may be wrong :)
  4. just a normal guy Senior Member

    Milander, if you were serious so where does the word "NEW" come from?
  5. Milander Member

    Hungary, English
    I was serious, and checking the etymology of new is no biggy.. one sec
  6. Milander Member

    Hungary, English
    New - O.E. neowe, niowe, earlier niwe, from P.Gmc. *newjaz (cf. O.Fris. nie, Du. nieuw, Ger. neu, Dan., Swed. ny, Goth. niujis "new"), from PIE *newos (cf. Skt. navah, Pers. nau, Hittite newash, Gk. neos, Lith. naujas, O.C.S. novu, Rus. novyi, L. novus, O.Ir. nue, Welsh newydd "new")
  7. Milander Member

    Hungary, English
    Darn... just done some research and got this:-

    "News" developed as a special use of the plural form of "new" in the 14th century. In Middle English, the equivalent word was 'newes', based on the French 'nouvelles'.
    It is not, as is often claimed, an acronym for "north, east, west, south". - Wikipedia

    I don't always trust wikipedia though so I'll have to do some deeper looking later... Thanks
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Online Etymology Dictionary
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2009
  9. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español

  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    As you have attributed a bogus etymology to David Crystal, please provide a source where we can verify this. I don't believe it for a second, but I've been proved wrong before. For those not familiar with him, Crystal is an author and expert on the English language. One of his interests is how language is used for play. Might he have been playing with the reader?
  11. Milander Member

    Hungary, English
    The reference to David Crystal is from his book 'The English Language". I've been hunting for it on my shelves but cannot find it so I cannot quote from source. I may have misread the quote as I read it many moons ago, if that is the case cé la vie (pardon my dreadful French) and sorry. However, as posted wiki quotes the north, south... blah blah for NEWS as - often claimed. It probably does not come from N,E,W,S, but I need to check how old the 'claim' for that etymology is.

    I'll come back to this one later after checking as I seem to be responsible for this (erroneous?) thread.

    Thanks everyone.
  12. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    It most certainly does not come from "N -E-W-S". Other languages (including both French and Latin) have words that translate literally as the plural of "new" used as a noun, and that mean "news", and none of these are based on acronyms of the points of the compass. The late-medieval English word "newes" (and how does one then explain that extra "E"?) was in clear imitation of the Latin "nova" or the French "nouvelles".
  13. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Interesting (with a mild warning that reasoning from parallels in other languages can occasionally be misleading).
  14. DJwrush New Member


    i woke up this morning thinking the same thing
    NEWS North East South and West, news around news weverywhere
  15. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    It's a nice play on the word, but I don't think there's anything to support this interpretation of its origin.
  16. I think I'm right in saying that 'news' started off plural.

    BBC newsreaders used to say 'Here are the news.'

  17. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Especially since other languages use words for the concept based on the adjective "new" and the local words have nothing that can be construed as cardinal points of the compass.
  18. Ferrydog Senior Member

    Hampshire UK
    I admit that North East West South = NEWS made me smile !

    But I suspect, as others above, that this is a false derivation. If I were to quote the four cardinal points of the compass, I would say North South East and West, in that order. NSEW does not quite have the same ease of pronunciation !

    I have never thought of 'news' as being plural.

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