|Saturday, March 22, 2003||
THE entry of the UN’s Inspector Blix in the theatre of war has coined a new trend-word: blixkrieg. The original word that inspired this one is blitzkrieg, a word that comes from the German language. Literally, blitzkrieg means ‘lightning war’ and was used to refer to the massive surprise attacks by ground and air forces on Poland and many other European countries, 1939 onwards. The shortened version, blitz, was used for the intensive bombing of London between July and December 1940. Blitz is also used humorously for a brief period of any intensely concentrated effort, at work or play.
Abbe, a French word, has
a history that goes back to sixteenth-century England. Etymologically,
abbe and abbot both come from the Latin abbatem but in French
it could be any man of the cloth, who is a Roman Catholic. English
uses it specifically, for a French priest. The whole family of words
like abbey, abbess and abbacy comes, via Latin and Greek, from the Aramaric
abba, meaning father. The English Biblical writers to denote God
the Father have used Abba itself.
Someone who attends a committee meeting or conference and is delegated to give a report on its proceedings to another body is a rapporteur. This French word is a derivative of the verb rapporter that means ‘give a report on’.
The mistress of a castle is known as chatelaine in French, the word being the female form of chatelain, ‘keeper or governor of the castle’. Chatelaine also refers to a chain worn suspended from the waist by women in earlier times, for holding keys, a purse or a kerchief. In the nineteenth century, English adapted it into ‘the mistress of a household, particularly a grand one’.
The easy and smooth
diffusion that takes place among all the languages of the world is
always a development to marvel at. Where languages are concerned, no
borders or boundaries exist. There is no area that can be called a
no-man’s land, neither are there any ideas of possession to hamper the
free flow of words. If we were to take just a page out of the rulebook
of languages, inspector Blix would be superfluous in our world! The easy
cohesion among languages can be clearly seen in a word like afeem.
It reached all languages from the source word, the Greek opion. Opion
was derived from the Greek opas, which referred to the juice
of a plant. It was adopted by Latin as opium, from where it went
on to the European languages like English, French and German. The
Arabian countries adopted it from Greek and made it afyun where
it later acquired the derivatives aphin and afen. Sanskrit
picked it up from here, making it afen and ahifen. In
Hindi it became afeem, in Marathi apheem or afu and
afim in Nepali. In Chinese it exists as a-foo-yung.