Monday, 6 July 2009

why is a dog a dog and not a hound?

When I was browsing the archives of A Word a Day, one of my favorite language sites, one that sends me an interesting mail each day, I came across this snippet from 2004:
Our seven-year-old daughter Ananya has developed an interest in etymology. Often she'll interrupt her play in the backyard and peek in my downstairs study to ask about whatever word comes to her mind. Some time back she barged in with, "So how did the word dog came about?" I explained to her that the word dog came from Middle English dogge which came from Old English docga. Satisfied, she went back to her play.

I had completely forgotten about it when a few days later I overheard her talking to her grandmother on the phone, "Amma, we got a dogga." I was puzzled and later asked why she said dogga instead of dog. She patiently explained, "You know, Amma is old. That's why I used Old English with her."

That got me to wondering about all the things we call our canine friends: Dog - well, I'll accept the explanation above, for that one. But what about the word hound?

But I guess this is not a subject for this blog, which after all is supposed to be about Penny, and she doesn't care what we call her, as long as we call her for dinner. (Couldn't resist that terrible joke.)

I'll save my thoughts about these doggy words for my other blog, Words All Around.

10 comments:

happy said...

Oh I would agree, the humans can call us anything as long as it's dinner time hehehe

Mary said...

I think I saw somewhere, a long time ago, that one of the Australian aboriginal languages has the word dog, meaning the same as dog in English.

parlance said...

Mary, that's fascinating! I had a look around and found a site where the writer describes the evolution of the Aboriginal word and says it's 'a one in a million accidental similarity of form and meaning in two unrelated languages.' The address is http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002246.php

Slavenka said...

I found this :Hound is related to the Greek word kuon, and to canine.
In Croatia is pas :)

parlance said...

Slavenka, what is the early origin of the Croatian language? It's a Slavic language, isn't it? Does your own name have a similar origin?

parlance said...

Happy, Penny doesn't even need to be called for dinner, actually. She's just there, beside us, when we rustle paper, pull out a knife, open a tin...it's magic. I think she has the ability to transport herself through another dimension from wherever she was before she heard the sounds of food. Is it the same for you?

Life With Dogs said...

Our dogs seem to develop more names as time passes. I think each may have four or five! :)

parlance said...

Life with dogs, I figure a dog just can't have too many names. You never know what you'll need to call them.

Slavenka said...

The beginning of the Croatian written language can be traced to the 9th century, when Old Church Slavonic was adopted as the language of the liturgy. This language was gradually adapted to non-liturgical purposes and became known as the Croatian version of Old Slavonic. The two variants of the language, liturgical and non-liturgical, continued to be a part of the Glagolitic service as late as the mid-9th century. Slavenka means Slavic.

parlance said...

Thanks for the info on your written language, Slavenka.