Word mysteries are where words in languages that I know don’t correspond to each other at all despite those languages often sharing lexical histories. These words are both mystifying (why are they different?) and annoying (why must you be different?!).
Today’s inspiration comes from my new iPhone’s alarm tone, aboiement. (My phone and iPod are set to French so I’m obligé de penser en français.)
EN → bark — the sharp explosive cry of certain animals, esp. a dog, fox, or seal. ORIGIN Old English beorc (noun), beorcan (verb), of Germanic origin.
ES → ladrar [lah-drahr] — Dicho de un perro. [Sound a dog makes.] ORIGIN Latin latrāre.
FR → aboyer [ah-bwah-yea] — Pousser son cri, en parlant du chien, spécialement d’un chien de grande taille. [Release of a dog’s cry, especially a large one.]
Aboyer appears to have evolved from the 12th century Roman word abaia. “Roman” here denoting the colloquial language spoken in the Roman Empire. Latin was for fancy educated folk. In Italian bark is abbaiare which seems to support this theory.
An abaia is also a “huge, magical eel” which is just one of the worst combinations of things I can imagine.
Finally, the perfect excuse to post an annoying yet catchy video. It’s of the French version of a novelty song about the sounds animals make. If you want more, there are a whole bunch in other languages.
Check back to this space for the next exciting Word Mystery! (Which may come to you every Wednesday because I love symmetry and inversion. It’d be WMW!)