The history of “ch” in English

The sound “ch” in English has an interesting history. Original the sound was a “k” in Proto Germanic. The sound became palatilised in some words, which means that the sound is pronounced with tongue raised against the hard palate. This can often happen so a series of sounds are easier to say, such as “did you” becoming “di’jew”. In IPA this would be [dɪdjuː] becoming [dɪdʒuː]

A star indicates that the word is reconstructed. Linguists look at the oldest literature in Germanic languages and find connections between the languages. They can then theorise as to what the word was in the parent language.

Here are some Modern English words and the words they came from

beseech: Old English be + sēċan, Proto Germanic *sōkijaną
church: Old English ċiriċe, Proto Germanic *kirikǭ
latch: Old English læċċan, Proto Germanic *lakkijaną
much: Old English miċel, Proto Germanic *mikilaz
watch: Old English wæċċan, Proto Germanic *wakjaną

The “k” sound did not palatilise in other Germanic languages at the same time as Old English did but many of them ended up palatilising later, but to different sounds. In German, sometimes the “k” became /x/ (, sometimes it became /ç/ ( and other times it remained a “k”. In Swedish too the “k” sometimes changed to another sound.

These are cognates, not translations. This means that the words listed here come from the same word in Proto Germanic. Cognates can often have different meanings

English German Dutch Swedish
beseech besuchen bezoeken besöka
church Kirche kerk kyrka
much michel mekel mycket
watch wachen waken väcka

English is one of the more divergent Germanic languages. It has very different pronunciations than the other Germanic languages and some of the divergence already happened in Old English. English was weird even back then 😀

The current state of Silly Linguistics

I wanted to write this to give you guys a bit of an update. This year has been crazy! My page has gone from 30 000 to over 55 000! My book came out and my Youtube channel passed 1000 subscribers! I am blown away by the support everyone has given me so far.

I started this page and the Silly Linguistics group to just share my love of languages. I have always loved languages but it took a back seat to my love of gaming and programming. I got a job working on game technology in 2014, but I had to quit after I got depression. Since then I have been doing freelance work. I started this page in late 2014 and it has been a roller coaster since then!

But there comes a time when you have to take stock of things and work out where you need things to be. My depression is slowly fading away and I feel stronger and stronger. The same I can’t say of my mother. She is a feisty and strong person, but after a family tragedy a few years ago, she has become less so.

I started Silly Linguistics at a time where I was not able to perform at the level required by a full time job, so I thought I might as well work a bit on a page and see what I could do with it. The support people give this page is amazing! Thank you so much for buying tshirts and my book! You are all awesome and I can’t thank you enough. I would have been happy if I sold one!

The hard thing about the situation though, is that the money I am making is not enough to pay all my bills, let alone help my mother who has looked out for me every step of the way. She should be able to relax at home and enjoy a retirement, not slave away at work to support the family.

The time to choose is fast approaching. I have to choose stability and income over hobbies. I am getting strong enough to work now and I want to be able to provide for myself and my family.

So I decided to come to you guys and ask for your help. Will you help me build Silly Linguistics into the best language page, language website and language youtube channel? Will you help me turn Silly Linguistics into a job, a proper job, a job that can help me support my family as well as allow me to expand Silly Linguistics and pay for business things like computers, cameras, rent and internet connections?

I started Silly Linguistics for a bit of fun, but it has become so much more. I never knew that I could have so much fun doing something that is a lot of work. But I have seen a future where languages are seen as an essential part of life and not just a weird curiosity. I have seen a future where people are raring to learn Irish Gaelic, Navajo and Australian aboriginal languages (amongst many many others). I forsee a future where languages memes, videos and articles flow like wine at a banquet. But it is only a dream.

Can you help me make that dream a reality? Will you help support Silly Linguistics? It is all possible if enough of us help each other.

At the end of the day, I need to start earning money. Enough money to support myself and my family. That is going to happen.

The question is, how much is Silly Linguistics going to be a part of that. I have spent two and a half years building Silly Linguistics up, and I want it to continue. There are only so many hours in a day. I will have to spend time on others things at some point, unless you can help me turn Silly Linguistics into a full time job.

So here’s the plan:

With at least $100 coming into my Patreon every month, I will have enough time along with every thing else I am doing to create a comic every week.

At $200 per month, I pledge to make a podcast every week about an interesting language topic.

Above this, who knows. Expect language lectures, videos about ancient languages and plenty other fun stuff.

Or I can just post a funny pic every day while I make programs for people.

I know which one I would like, and I am sure you will agree with me.

Let’s make Silly Linguistics into what it can be and let’s not let this opportunity slip away.

Even if you can only contribute $1 / month, I would be over the moon that you are willing to help Silly Linguistics grow.

It is a tough time for me, but it’s not a situation with no solution. I hope I can convince some of you to help me make language, language learning and the language community a more vibrant, interesting, enriching and exciting place.

I hope you have a great day

Steve the vagabond and silly linguist (but my friends call me Rolf) 🙂

You can also make a one time donation to my PayPal


Mental illness

I wanted to take a break from the language to write about something that affects my life and the lives of many people around the world.

When someone breaks their leg, no one says “Walk it off, it will get better eventually. Suck it up, it’s just a bit of leg pain”

So why do people do this for mental illness? There seems to be this weird idea out there that the brain is somehow different. I suppose it makes sense. The brain is the seat of the soul, emotions and personality. It’s what makes us human.

But it is an organ just like any other. And it can get worn out.

Your leg can get injured. Your arm can get injured. All organs can suffer damage. And the brain is unfortunately exactly the same in this regard.

If you are stressed for too long, in a bad situation, no hope for things getting better, your brain can get overworked and tired. Eventually things stop working. You lose your appetite, and the once vibrant colours in your life turn to grey. You might eventually even forget who you are.

I think because our minds are such a central part of our lives, there is a lot of superstition and misinformation about it because it is scary to look for the actual truth. We want to believe that we can last forever.

We want to believe we can trail every path and conquer every mountain. Maybe we can, but not if we do it the wrong way, and definitely not if you are already stressed and worn out.

If your leg is break, you take the weight off it. If you are tired, sad and worn out, give your mind a break. The stigma around mental illness is lessening as we understand it better.

I hope that anyone who may be suffering out there sees this message and realises it’s not their fault. If they had a medical problem with some other part of their body, they would get it sorted out. But there is so much hanging around our ideas of the mind.

If you are suffering, please get some help from a professional. You are not a failure for reaching out. Actually, it is a sign of strength. Facing the truth can be hard, but it will get better in the end.

I lived my own delusion for too long, and I can’t believe the places my life is going now that I have broken through to reality.

I hope everyone who reads this has a great day, and please let everyone you know that is suffering that there is no shame in getting help

Steve the vagabond (but my friends call me Rolf)

Frisian, the closest relative to English

Frisian is the language outside of the British Isles that is the closest relative of English

It is my kat
It is my cat

It is in griene doar
It is a green door

Ik haw brea
I have bread

Ik hear dy
I hear you

Wat is jo namme
What is your name

English diverged a lot after the Norman invasion and Frisian has been influenced by Dutch, but even a thousand years later, we can still see both are very much Germanic and are very similar in some sentences

The origin of the word “blood”

The word “blood” comes from Old English “blod” which comes from Proto Germanic *blodam and both of those mean “blood”. However, *blodam is descended from Proto Indo European *bhlo-to- which means “to swell, gush, spurt”. The word “blood” is descended from a completely different word that other Indo European languages.

“blood” in Latin is “sanguis” which gave us French “sang” and Italian “sangue”. This word comes from Proto Indo European *h₁sh₂-én- (by the way, h₁ and h₂ represent two consonant produced in the general area of the larynx but linguists are not certain where exactly, so they are simply written as h₁ and h₂). It is cognate with Sanskrit “असृज् “‎ (asrj) and Ancient Greek “ἔαρ” ‎(éar).

In very common words such as numbers, there is a huge amount of similarity
Note: t and d are pronounced in the same place in the mouth, only voicing is different. Sometimes only voicing changes between two different stages of a languages evolution

English – two
Afrikaans – twee
Swedish – två
German – zwei

Portuguese – dois
Spanish – dos
Catalan – dos
French – deux

Breton – daou
Irish Gaelic – dó
Scottish Gaelic – dà

Russian – dva
Polish – dwa
Bulgarian – dva

Autocorrect: A Love/Hate Story

By Patience Kelly

Ah autocorrect, turning our swears into fluffy animals, and our fluffy animals into, well, other words for years. It turns good spellers into bad ones, and makes bad ones look like they are all but illiterate. It’s meant for ease of typing, obviously, to fix things like capital letters, and the most common mistakes people make on a keyboard, once people started using it, they realized the hilarity that could ensue, replacing “yes” with “hell yeah” or their own names with some other silly combination of words.

And of course, we all know of the great debate between whether the age of social media is killing our language, and communication, when the most likely answer, is that it exists in a realm of its own; being its own language. Hell, the internet is basically an entirely different culture, so of course it created its own language, but I digress.

According to some linguists, autocorrect is saving the English language, with fixes like apostrophe’s and changing tho to though, but reading through the article, I can’t help but to feel like autocorrect is in some way a language purist. Although, it has gotten used to capitalizing my name (Patience) and coz instead of cuz or because, it still refuses to let me use little letters for ok, and most of the time I find myself individually typing each word or phrase instead of swiping or using autocorrect.

Per the same article, new versions, and ideas for T9 (texting technology) include things like correct verb conjugation, which to me raises even more questions, will things like this in other languages be as fluid and true in a grammatical sense, making it conceivably easier to learn language through texting and other techno-savy means? Will having that safety net make it easier to be a bad speller, and a bad conjugator? And will the ‘language purists” of both the real world and software land be harsher on technology lingo or will they ever let it go and let the internet, and texting talk, communicate, interact, and socialize the way it wants to?

Maybe we’ll get the answers we’re looking for soon, but for now we will have to rest in the fact that in Word, our I before e except after c mistakes will always be fixed, and texting with our phones will always be hilarious.

The Art of Silence

By Patience Kelly

Non-Verbal Communication and Linguistics

Non-Verbal communication can be defined as communication through wordless clues and can include things like; clothing, uses of time like waiting and pausing, touch in communication, body language like foot tapping, nodding, shrugging, waving and other body movement, things like limping and running, facial expressions, eye movements, smell, voice quality, silence, mumbling, speed, tone, volume, posture, position of body, and uses of space.

Languages such as American sign language have been around since the 17th century. Native Americans used signed language systems before 1492, in the 1500 the Turkish Ottoman court were using signed communication. In Ancient Rome, many men were known for their art of public speaking, and followed strict rules of gesture and even which hands to use in public speaking. The crowd understood the meanings of these gestures, and the messages were respected by all.

In the 1980’s a group of deaf children in Nicaragua came together and created their own form of sign language, completed with syntax, and linguists were allowed to see the birth of a language for the first time.

Non-verbal communication accounts for as much as two thirds of all communication, and is arguably the most important part of any conversation. The nuances of silence, or how a look between people who have known each other for years can communicate hours of spoken conversation. Even things like handwriting and page layout can make a statement about how a person communicates, and who they are as a person.

Come live on the silly side of life