Scheler’s Dictionary Of French Etymology -- By: B. Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:80 (Oct 1863)
Article: Scheler’s Dictionary Of French Etymology
Author: B. Sears

Scheler’s Dictionary Of French Etymology1

Rev. B. Sears

What Bopp and his school have done for etymology in the Sanscrit, the Grimms in the German, and Diez in the Romance languages, has given a new impulse to etymological studies, and led to many new discoveries and exploded many traditional errors. The older etymologists were so fanciful that no wonder a lively French writer said that in etymology les consonens sont peu de choses et les voyales rien du tout. By the older English and French writers on the subject, stories to explain the origin of words were fabricated with a facility equalled only by the credulity with which they were received. Of those tales of pure fiction in regard to the origin of English words it has been ascertained that, in nearly nine-tenths of the cases mentioned, the word was in use long, before the occasion which is said to have given origin to it. The great majority of these anecdotes which even now disgrace our English literature are so clumsy that we can hardly account for the currency they have gained.

It is a fact to which even so good a scholar as Marsh has given too little attention, while he has studied the history of individual words so carefully, that there are well established laws by which words undergo certain changes in passing from one language to another, so that an etymology is no longer to be adopted on account of any external resemblances, but on account of changes which can be proved to be organic by referring to whole classes of words in which the same letters are represented by certain corresponding letters in another language. Thus the initial f in Latin is represented by h in Spanish, as in faba, haba; facere, hacer; filius, hijo; forma, horma; fumus, humo. The c before a in Latin, passes into ch in French, as in caballus, cheval; camera, chambre; canis, chien; causa, chose; castellum, chateau. The English and French insert the letter b after m. as in numerus, number; camera, chambre; Schlummer (German), slumber; Daum, thumb; Lamm, lamb. The dipthong oi in French takes the place of short i before a single consonant in Latin, as in bibere, boir, digitus, doigt; fides, foi; minus, moins; niger, noir; via, voie. The o of the Latin is changed into the dipthong eu (oeu) in French, as in hora, heure; nodus, noeud; solus, seul; ploro, pleure; nepotem, neveu; ovum, oeuf; bovem, boeuf; populus, peuple; cor, coeur. The l in Latin words is represented by u in French as in collum, cou; bellus (beal) beau (bealté, beauté);

castellum, chateau; falco, faucon; delphinus, dauphin; talpa, taupe; alba, aube; alter, autre; altus, h...

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