How do people know where certain words come from?


How do people know where certain words come from?

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You mean etymology? It’s the study of words and their origins.

Language is a communication of concepts, and that concepts are determined by culture. Words can comes from either making new words to describe something, an evolution of describing something that turned into a word, or adopting new words from other cultures.

All of these can be traced and some can be interesting, especially when you want to determine how insults are formed.

There are writings dating back thousands of years ago, and we can often consistently trace the evolution of words by looking through the historical record. But historical linguists can do something even cooler and reconstruct unattested words by comparing similar words in related ancient languages. For example, people noticed there were lots of similarities between Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Latin, and those ended up being the three biggest players in reconstructing their common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European. And it’s not just that words were similar, but that they differed in really consistent ways. For instance, they noticed that a lot of words looked pretty similar between Sanskrit and the others except that Sanskrit used an /s/ sound while the others used a /k/ sound, leading them to hypothesize that, at some point between PIE and Sanskrit, the sound morphed.

old books mostly.

language changes overtime, new phrases and words added, old ones forgotten. the written language is a map of it’s own history.