Episode 6: Indo-European Words

A look at words used by the original Indo-Europeans and the clues such words provide to the identity of the first Indo-Europeans.  The etymology of modern English words is explored in relation to the original Indo-European words.

7 thoughts on “Episode 6: Indo-European Words

  1. Hopefully I can say this without being rude because I am loving this podcast. I am very interested to learn why the presenter sometimes pronounces words differently than I do (Southern Alberta, Canada.) Such as the L in words like Old (Owd/Owed is what I hear) and Golf (gough, like cough is what I heard). Its even more interesting that the presenter seems to know this, when saying ‘pen’ ‘kin’ ‘keen’ they spelled it afterwards like they knew their e’s sounded like I’s and vice versa!

    • Hi Nick. The best answer I can give you is that my accent is simply different from yours. At various points in the podcast, I try to explore why accents develop and why various accents pronounce certain sounds differently. This topic will be explored in much greater detail in future episodes which will explore the development of Modern English.

      • Well said Kevin! Our accent is something we absorb from those around us. We can modify in in adult life but can we really explain it? I think of some Scottish actors who lose all trace of their accent when playing a role, yet in an interview they revert to being Scots.

  2. I found this episode very enriching. I happen to be an English language teacher and sometimes when students ask about those irregular plural forms, you don’t know what to answer and end up saying ” that’s the way it is”. In this episode I found the reason why and I will not hesitate to tell my students where those weird forms come from.

  3. Hello, I’m enjoying your podcast very much. I did have a comment for you about the formation of plurals in Old English. You said that

    “at some point after Old English, English adopted the modern rules for making words plural.That included the general rule that the way to make a singular word plural is to add an ‘s’ or ‘es’ at the end and pretty much all newer nows follow this rule.”

    This does not strike me as strictly accurate on two accounts.

    1. Old English had several ways to decline nouns to form the plural and one of them was to ad ‘as’ to a word. This is the old English form of the modern plural rule.

    2. The word for ‘fox’ is an old Saxony word and not a newer word at all. The reason why we say foxes instead of foxen is because the root word for fox simply fell into the class of nouns that declined with an ‘as’ and not an ‘en’ (see https://hord.ca/projects/eow/grammar/noun.php?id=592&output=macron)

    Do you have a

    • Paul,

      Thanks for the feedback. Your observations are correct. I was trying to simplify a complicated process in that one sentence. I discuss the evolution of plural suffixes in some detail in Episode 53.

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