mánudagur, júlí 24, 2006


Of course. French cher is from Latin carus. English cherish is from another form of cher, apparently a superlative. But look: carus is from PIE *qar-, the same root that gives us English whore, OE hore, ON hora, OHG huora. (Behold Grimm's law at work: Latin C and Germanic H, as in centus and hundred, canis and hound. If kærleikur is indeed from cher and carus, then its initial consonant has made an end run around the first Germanic sound shift.)

But whore is a bit strong, don't you think? *quar gives words in other daughter languages of a more pleasant nature: not just Latin carus but OIr cara, "friend," and even Skt. kama of the Kama Sutra. One wonders: Have Germanic speakers been historically more given to cursing those they once loved? Heartbreak can have unpleasant side effects, some of them behavioral. Certainly Brynhildr went to extremes in avenging herself upon a man who had once been kær, dear.

Or maybe it means nothing. Only the most sensitive of us will, perhaps, avoid kærleikur in favor of ást.

Full credit here to Douglas Harper's Online Etymology.

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