Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.
The way my mind works, I think of a concept and then start extrapolating from there, considering and sorting all my associations with the thing and turning those ideas around and around in my head, making connections or setting some things aside for later reclassification. It’s like there’s an infinitely cross-referenced card catalog in my brain, or maybe one of those crazy-person conspiracy boards you see in movies.
One of the last steps I get to is the actual name of the thing since I deal primarily in Platonic ideals. That’s when I begin to pull up all the different names I have for the same thing, which is when I hit on a Word Mystery. Thinking about those damned rabbits, I was forced to also think about chickens and something that I’ll write about tomorrow got me thinking about eggs… so, let’s get cracking.
EN → egg — an oval or round object laid by a female bird, reptile, fish, or invertebrate, usually containing a developing embryo. The eggs of birds are enclosed in a chalky shell, while those of reptiles are in a leathery membrane. ORIGIN Middle English (superseding earlier ey, from Old English ǣg): from Old Norse.
ES → huevo — Cuerpo redondeado, de tamaño y dureza variables, que producen las hembras de las aves o de otras especies animales, y que contiene el germen del embrión y las sustancias destinadas a su nutrición durante la incubación. [Rounded structure, of variable sizes and hardnesses, which are produced by female birds and other species, which contain the germ of the embryo and the substances necessary to sustain them during incubation.] ORIGIN Latin ŏvum (« egg »).
FR → oeuf — Chose arrondie à enveloppe dure que produisent les femelles des oiseaux et qui contient des substances nutritives (de couleur jaune) entourées d’une gélatine protectrice (de couleur transparente). [Round thing enveloped in a hard casing which is produced by female birds and which contains nutritive substances (yellow-colored) surrounded by a (transparent) gelatinous protection. ORIGIN 12th cent. Latin ŏvum.
I cry foul (fowl?) today, as I can’t figure how huevo and oeuf came from the exact same word and yet evolved so differently. I’m also annoyed that despite appearing like a Word Mystery (they look totally different!) they don’t actually have unique origins. Grumble. This week’s winner is English because the other two didn’t play nice.
Pop quiz, hotshot!
Test your mettle on conspiracy board knowledge. I got 9 out of 13.