When faced with inexplicable words, what ... next?

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
The word koorts (fever) in Dutch is considered etymologicallyinexplicable, as for now [if that is the correct term]. Fact is: all other Germanic languages have a f-b/v-r word.

The -rts ending would seem to be Germanic, I would think, but of course any link with cort/kort (short) seems semantically improbable, at least at first sight, and there are few ending in -oorts (toorts, torch), and not that many in -rts (kwarts, quartz - I don't count plural -rt words in).

Questions that arise:
(a) what can help to find roots?
(b) How can you know that a word belongs to a substrate?

Those explanations could be lenghty. References to articles and websites would be great!
 
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  • ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I had been thinking of a link with croître, which has led to kroos in our dialects, interest. But of course it would not explain the -ts, I guess.

    If however there is the parallel toorts/torch, one could assume there must, no, could be something like corch (no!) or s-corch/scorch, which is related with temperature. But then etymonline.com considers the origin "obscure"...
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    There are a few other words with -rts: arts, erts, voorts, opwaarts/afwaarts. There are also some adjectives ending with -rt + -s.

    The English word "curse" is also of unknown origin.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    It's interesting how these words aren't written with /k/. I know that German had an instance where Köln was written with C some time ago.
    In Dutch, every /k/ used to be written "c" and every /x/ used to be written "gh". Somehow the spelling got germanized (?) to "k" and "ch".

    The British only started using the letter K in words that started with ki, ke and kn, and also at the end of words (bake, back etc.).
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Wouldn't curse be of Latin origin, since most words that start with /c/ are of Latin origin?

    You're right insofar the C is not native to any Germanic alphabet but a lot of Germanic words were written with a C at some point. Probably to make them look more Latin. :D
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    You're right insofar the C is not native to any Germanic alphabet but a lot of Germanic words were written with a C at some point. Probably to make them look more Latin. :D
    I didn't write that quote! :eek:

    I don't agree that writing words with C is "to look more like Latin". British and Flemish monks simply used the Latin alphabet and C was the standard letter to use for the /k/ sound. The letter C is not "more Latin" than A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I/J, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U/V and X.
     
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    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    I didn't write that quote! :eek:

    Oops, sorry. I'm still struggling with the new quote function. :D

    I don't agree that writing words with C is "too look more like Latin". British and Flemish monks simply used the Latin alphabet and C was the standard letter to use for the /k/ sound. The letter C is not "more Latin" than A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I/J, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U/V and X.

    As I said, not native. You don't find it in Gothic or Old Norse scripts.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    As I said, not native. You don't find it in Gothic or Old Norse scripts.
    C is as much and as little native as any other letter of the Latin alphabet. I don't understand you point.

    I also don't understand what Gothic and Old Norse have to do with it. It is correct that they didn't use C but then they didn't use K either because both languages didn't use the Latin script at all.
     
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