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Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

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yesterday [Dec. 21st, 2009|02:52 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

word_ancestry

[gwoman]
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yesterday, n. [yes-ter-dey, yěs-tər-dā]
-Though the requester correctly noted that yesterday and yeast have similar pronunciations and spellings, they are not in fact related. Yesterday is first seen as a single word in a document from about 1250 CE, being spelled as yisterdai. It was formed from the Old English compound noun geostran dæg 'yesterday day' (c. 950), with geostran being first recorded on its own around 725. While geostran was originally sufficient on its own, over time it became absolutely paired with dæg. Interestingly, though many of the cognates of Old English geostran have equivalent definitions, several mean 'tomorrow' or both 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow': Middle Low German gistern 'yesterday,' Middle Dutch ghisteren 'yesterday,' Old Norse gær 'tomorrow, yesterday,' Gothic gistradagis 'tomorrow.' All of these stem from Proto-Germanic gestra 'the other day,' which could refer to either before or after the present day, leading to the dichotomous definitions in the daughter languages. The Germanic root is thought to have descended from prehistoric Indo-European ghes-, which also created Sanskrit hyah, Avestan zyo, Persian di, Greek khthes, Old Irish indhe, and Welsh doe, all meaning 'yesterday' or 'an indistinct past time.' Let's not forget Latin heri 'yesterday' and hesternus 'of yesterday,' the founder of French hier and several other words for 'yesterday' in the Romance languages.
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Comments:
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: gwoman
2009-12-23 08:15 pm (UTC)
added! and thank you for supplementing with those modern words.
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[User Picture]From: nerak_rose
2009-12-22 01:42 am (UTC)
in icelandic it's still 'gær'.

word request: christmas.

i also dunno if this request is valid but uhm, is there any way you could check the old english word 'arenddracan', meaning messenger? I'm curious how 'arenddracan' became replaced with by 'messenger', when 'arenddracan' is still used in icelandic as 'erinddreki' but not (to my knowledge) used in any other nordic language i know, or at least not in a form that I can recognise.
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2009-12-23 08:16 pm (UTC)
i think i'll bump your request up to today's post, just to be festive and all. :)

from what i can tell, it seems like the OE word was simply replaced by the ME equivalent of messenger, probably due to the influx of French words into the English language. i'll add "messenger" to the list for you, though.

Edited at 2009-12-23 08:25 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nerak_rose
2009-12-28 02:45 pm (UTC)
that's what i thought too, i just got curious when i stumbled over it in an OE text in my linguistics class. xD thanks! :)
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[User Picture]From: feyrieprincess
2009-12-22 05:57 am (UTC)
Thank-you
I adored this one
My favorite thing in the world is words that lead back to PIE
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2009-12-23 08:17 pm (UTC)
it is absolutely awesome when a word can be traced that far back!
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[User Picture]From: brein_draak
2009-12-22 09:07 pm (UTC)
Could you do romance? Thanky you.
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2009-12-23 08:17 pm (UTC)
added!
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