Tag Archives: words


A friend of mine asked a speaker if he could say, in his language, how many spears he had. None of the Australian aboriginal languages has any words for numbers other than 1 and 2, so all he could do was list them. He said, “Well, I have a ceremonial spear, a long throwing spear, a shorter throwing spear, a jabbing spear and a broad blade spear.” “That makes five,” my friend said. “If you say so,” he agreed. “If I took one away,” my friend asked, “how many would you have left?” “Well,” he replied, “it depends on which one you took away, doesn’t it?”

— Peter Ladefoged, English-American linguist


What do Jove and YHWH have in common?

They are pronounced the same!

Jove or Iove, also known as Jupiter was the chief god of the Romans. However, the Romans did not have a letter ‘J’ – they had an ‘I’ instead. Also, in classical Latin, the ‘v’ is pronounced more like a ‘w’, so “Jove” would have sounded like: “yoweh”

which is remarkably similar to the Hebrew name for God (though traditionally unspoken), יהוה which is commonly transliterated “YHWH” – “yaweh”.

Since we are on the subject, Zeus is the the Greek version of Iove. Zeus comes from the ancient root word for “God” (similarly, we have “deus” in Latin, and  देव [“deva”] in Sanskrit).

This curiosity was noticed when I was musing on the similarity between the Latin “vir” for “man”, and the Old English “wer”, which carried the same meaning. The only modern vestige in English of “wer” that I can think of, is in the word “werewolf”. Anyway, my mind wondered and led me to the similarity of “Iove” and “יהוה“.

One more fun tidbit: Today is Thursday, which was named after Jove/Jupiter. In Latin, “Thursday” is “Iovis Dies”.

OK, fine, one more tidbit: This post was posted during the first hour of Jupiter on the day of Jupiter, according to ancient reckonings. To figure out what in the world I am talking about, here is a link to wikipedia’s page on planetary hours.

Today is “Dismal” … no seriously, etymology inside

Guess what? Today is one of 24 specific days of the year that are designated as “bad days” and have been for ages.

It’s where the word “dismal” comes from – in Latin, dies mali.

The list of dies mali or dies Aegyptiaci are as follows:

  • January 1 and 25
  • February 4 and 26
  • March 1 and 28
  • April 10 and 20
  • May 3 and 25
  • June 10 and 16
  • July 13 and 22
  • August 1 and 30
  • September 3 and 21
  • October 3 and 22
  • November 5 and 28
  • December 7 and 22

For what it’s worth, the last dies mali, February 4th, our office flooded and the water damage ruined a ceiling, a floor, a desk, and lots of paperwork. So in short, sometimes bad days are bad days, and if they have been marked as such on calendars for many centuries, perhaps one might do better to pay them heed than to ignore them, because what’s going to happen is going to happen!

More here.

EDITED TO ADD: MtGox.com, the first major bitcoin exchange shuttered its doors today. Their website shows only this message:

February 26th 2014

Dear MtGox Customers,

As there is a lot of speculation regarding MtGox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues.

Furthermore I would like to kindly ask that people refrain from asking questions to our staff: they have been instructed not to give any response or information. Please visit this page for further announcements and updates.

Mark Karpeles

Dear MtGox Customers,

In light of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.

Best regards,
MtGox Team

Dies mali, indeed!

The first of likely many language/word/etymology related posts

“Russians” in Esperanto = “Rusoj”

“Bears” in Esperanto = “Ursoj”

[the “oj” part means it’s plural, but really you should just go ahead and learn Esperanto. It’ll take you all of 5 minutes {I am exaggerating, but not by much}]

See? It’s an anagram! I found it rather amusing that the Esperanto words for “russian” and “bear” were so connected, given Russia’s symbolic association with bears.

Quasi-relatedly, thumbing through my Esperanto-English dictionary, I found that the Esperanto word for “cannabis” is “kanabo”, which is similar to both “Kanado” (Canada) and “knabo” (boy). With Esperanto’s word-building (vortfarado), you can do a lot of things that aren’t even possible in English, such as make a word for “Canadian cannabis” – “kanada kanabo”, the comparative phrase, can be made into a single, valid, Esperanto word: “kanadkanabo”.

There are, of course, many more such things, but I have to stop somewhere, and right now, that’s here. Refer to the resources I posted here to learn Esperanto.

Off to a strange beginning…

My name is Shane. Shane is the Anglicised version of the Irish Seán, which is cognate to John, which comes from the Latin Iohannes, which is cognate to the Greek Ἰωάννης, and comes from the Hebrew יוֹחָנָן (Yôḥānān) which is a shortened form of יְהוֹחָנָן (Yəhôḥānān), which means “God’s gift”, perhaps more aptly translated as “Yahweh is gracious”.

Shane, rendered in Esperanto, is Ŝejno. Sxejno is an alternate spelling of such, which is why this blog has the domain name/title that it does.

Forgive me if I, from time to time, lapse into Esperanto, or whatever other language aside from this one. This blog isn’t necessarily an attempt to communicate with others or particularly share my thoughts, although I suppose that it’s possible that that may happen as a side effect. This is just a place for them (the thoughts). They can run it like their own little fiefdom for all I care.