Fairy, Faerie and Sylva Fae

In today’s blog, we are highlighting a wonderful children’s author, whose name and work reflect the word we are looking at. Sylva Fae writes for young children, and there are many examples of fairy, or indeed faerie, folk in her latest book, Elfabet.

Fairy

 

Here is an interesting word, a nice example of how perceptions can change. These days, we may think of fairies and our minds go to fairytales, to cute little creatures with wings and wands, the stuff of children’s films and stories, such as in Sylva Fae’s books.

But this has not always been the case, and fairies have also been viewed as terrifying beings. Certainly, the fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are nothing like the Tinkerbells of Disney.

So what of the origin of the word? Even though people have believed in supernatural beings for centuries, fairy was not the original word preferred to refer to such beings in English, and does not trace its origins back to Old English, as prior to adopting fairy, people used other words, such as elf.

 

The word came into English in the 1300s, from Old French. It meant both ‘supernatural being’ and ‘home/ country of supernatural beings’. There were a number of spellings in Middle English, such as fayri, faeri, feyry, fairi, and so on.

Let’s take a look at an example of it from John Lydgate‘s work King Henry VI’s Triumphal Entry into London, dating to 1435

Twoo olde men..dydde appere lyke ffolkes off ffeyrye.

(Two old men did appear, like folks of fairy).

In this case, it is the country that is referred to with the word ‘fairy’, and indeed faerie in Old French appears to have been most common with this meaning. Old French developed the word from Latin fata, which meant the Fates, or the goddesses of destiny. The English word fate obviously comes from the same source, making it a cognate of fairy.

But we can do better than this. We can trace the word back further. The Latin word fata is the plural of fatum, which literally means “utterance”. It was formed from fari, which means “utter”. Thus, fate is “that which is uttered” (the implication being that it is the gods who are doing the uttering!). This Latin meaning helps us to trace the word to its earlier source in Proto-Indo-European. It comes from the root *bha-, meaning ‘speak, say’. Cognates such as Sanskrit bhanati, ‘speaks’, Old English ben ‘prayer, request’, English ban, Greek φωνή [foni] ‘voice, sound’ and others attest to this root.

Did you notice the modern English word? Yes. Ban is a distant cognate of fairy. Make of that what you will.

One final note: what of elf? Well, this is the word that was used previously, before fairy entered the language, and continued alongside it. Elf comes from Old English elf, which in some dialects of Old English was aelf. It referred to a powerful supernatural being. It derives from Proto Germanic *albiz, and there are cognates in several other Germanic languages. We can’t be sure of the origins, but one theory is that it derives from Proto-Indo-European *albho, meaning ‘white’, and developed in reference to the pale or shining skin these beings were supposed to have. This theory is supported by the Old English word for ‘swan’ – elfet, meaning ‘white bird’.

Advertisements

Rainbow

52989916_520327828492080_7896012677493817344_n

Continuing to feature the etymology of book titles: this article is in association with Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Mom’s Favorite Reads is an international community of readers and authors. Check out their web page above! Today’s author spotlight is on: Sylva Fae.

rainbow

What a marvellous image is conjured by this word: rainbow. We think of colour and light, and it is a cheerful thought, despite the rain.

Given the miserable weather on the island where English arose, it comes as no suprise that this word has been in the language for a very long time. Let’s take a look at its passage through the centuries. We shall go first to 1450, to that stage of our language known as Middle English. At a distance of so many centuries, you might reasonably expect the word to be different, so you will be disappointed in our quote from the Middle English translation of Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum, originally a hexameter poem in Latin.

for his floures hauyn colour like þe reinbowe.

[For his flowers have colour like the rainbow.]

Aside from the very small difference in spelling, the word is very familiar and easily recognisable. But we won’t stop there. Let’s take a small leap a little further back into Middle English, to 1387, where we find John Trevisa’s Translation of the ‘Polychronicon‘ of Ranulph Higden.

if þat stoon is i-holde aʒenst þe sonne, it schal schape a reynbowe

[If that stone is held against the sun, it shall shape a rainbow.]

Again, the only major difference is in the spelling. I find it rather reassuring that this sentence, written so long ago, could easily be heard today. Underneath all our modern technology, we are still the same, and can still enjoy the pretty patterns caused by the sun striking a stone. But let’s return to our word. We shall now track it back into Old English, where we have two quotes from the 7th century. The first is from the Anglo Saxon version of Genesis:

Ic sette mínne rénbogan on wolcnum

[I set my rainbow on the clouds]

Here the word is renboga, here used in the accusative form as renbogan. You can see it in the nominative in our final quote, from a work by Caedmon:

rénboga cymþ of ðam sunbeáme and of wǽtum wolcne

[The rainbow comes of the sunbeams and of wet clouds.]

The language is now much less familiar, and more difficult for your average speaker of Modern English to understand, especially when compared with the Middle English version. But the word ‘rainbow‘ is not radically different. We can find cognates of it in other Germanic languages: Swedish regenbåge, Dutch regenboog, German Regenbogen. Having established that this is a Germanic word, we shall now split it easily into two parts: rain + bow.

The first part means, you’ve guessed it, rain. It derives from the Proto-Germanic root *regna, also meaning rain, and, as with the compound word, there are cognates in many other Germanic languages. The second part, bow, comes from Old English boga, the second element in renboga in the quotes above. This word meant bow, as in the weapon used for archery, but also anything bent or curved or arched: hence its use for rainbow, in reference to the shape. It derives from Proto-Germanic *bugon, which in turn is from the Proto-Indo-European root *bheug-, meaing ‘to bend’. And here comes the final twist in our tale: a word that also derives ultimately from *bheug-, and is thus a cognate of ‘bow’ is something you might find on your plate: bagel.

rainbow monsters

The inspiration for today’s article comes from Sylva Fae with her book Rainbow Monsters, available here.

 

 

Saving Grace

52989916_520327828492080_7896012677493817344_n

A new feature on the blog: this article is in association with Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Mom’s Favorite Reads is an international community of readers and authors. Check out their web page above! Today’s author spotlight is on: Hannah Howe

Saving Grace

I expect you have all heard this expression at one time or another; it means “the thing that in some way mitigates all the negative points”. But where does it come from?

It’s actually quite simple to get to the origin of this phrase. But we like things to be a little more challenging. So, we are going to go first to the etymology of the word ‘grace’, and from there to the expression.

If you speak a Romance language, or even if you have just heard the Italian or Spanish words for ‘thank you’, then it may come as no surprise that ‘grace’ derives from Latin. Specifically, it comes from gratia, which meant ‘favour, positive quality, gratitude’. You can see how in Italian and Spanish it has developed to mean ‘thank you’. Gratia derives from gratus, which, unsurprisingly, meant ‘pleasing, nice’ and other similar things. It came into Middle English via Old French some time during the 12th century, and in Old French, Latin gratia had already become grace, and had taken on a religious significance; the grace of God, the positive favour granted by God to human beings.

Now you will understand why we looked first at ‘grace‘. Our expression, saving grace, derives from the religious usage of the word. According to Christianity, it is by God’s grace that we are saved, God’s special favour redeems us despite all our faults and flaws. And that, of course, is exactly how the expression is used: something becomes acceptable despite its flaws; it has a grace that saves it.

If we step back in time, we find that originally, when the expression was used in a non-religious context, people spoke of a ‘helping grace’, as only God could save. Thus we find:

oure helpyng grace muste… be seid to be ij qualitees of which oon schal be in oure resoun to tech

[Our helping grace must be said to be in qualities, of which one is our mental capacity to teach.]

(Reginald Pecock, The Rule of Christian Religion, 1443)

On an interesting note, gratus is thought to have evolved from Proto-Indo-European root *gwreto, itself from *gwere, ‘to favour, to be pleasing’. This is also the source of the word ‘agree’, coming from the sense ‘something pleasing’, which makes us sound rather smug when we agree!

image1

Saving Grace is also the title of a fabulous thriller by Hannah Howe, which exploits the expression for a marvellous pun. Available here.

Multicultural Book Day

For my second review for Multicultural Book Day, I have a book by Greek author Alkistis Halikia.

book_alkisti_cover_en_f

The Color of Myth

Text by Alkistis Halikia and illustrations by Nikoletta Halikia

This is a colouring book for children to discover more about ancient Greek mythology. The bulk of the book consists of beautiful illustrations, necessarily drawn in line form so that the children may colour them in. They reflect the style generally found on ancient Greek pottery, and the subject matter is taken from mythology.

The drawings are very tastefully done, with each image appearing twice: once against a black background, and once as a line drawing on white. This means that the child can have two chances at colouring the picture in different ways and from a different perspective. This could be a good opportunity to invite the child to use their imagination for one side, while using its counterpart to teach about ancient techniques. There is enough detail in each picture to give the more meticulous child something to keep them occupied, without it being overwhelming, a task too daunting to start.

At the end of the book, the pictures are following by a series of texts which serve as explanations for the scenes, to give a basic understanding of what is represented. The details are brief, as one might expect in what is primarily a colouring book, but there is enough to spark an interest, should the child wish to find out more. Although the language used is simple and informative, as this is not intended to be a detailed narrative, it does not shy away from specialised vocabulary as suited to the subject matter.

A good choice for a fun interactive introduction to mythology.

About the Author

p1110476

Alkistis Halikia is a museum educator and writer who lives in Athens. All the educational books she has written were on the short list for the National Book Award, with the book “In the Zoo park”, Kaleidoskopio ed., being awarded the prize of “Best Educational Book of the Year 2011”. In 2015 she founded the “Flip the Myth” editions hoping to make Greek art attractive to the hardest audience of all: children!

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Medallion Level Sponsors Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org. Super Platinum: Make A Way Media GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTVLerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press, SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls, BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul,RedfinAuthor Gayle H. SwiftT.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht AminiAuthor Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm,Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana andA Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing,Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianClaudia SchwamLori DeMoniaTerri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERECo-Hosts and Global Co-HostsA Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms,Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on itGrowing Book by BookHere Wee Read,Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: https://wp.me/P5tVud-1H Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

 

A Celebration of Diversity Through Literature

This year, I am delighted to announce that I am taking part in Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which is celebrated each year in a bid to raise awareness of books that celebrate diversity, and which aims to get such books into the hands of both young readers and teachers.

As part of this, it has been my pleasure to review books by Greek authors. I have never made any secret of my support of multilingualism, and I believe that teachers could support multilingual children by encouraging them to read in their minority language. For those that have Greek-speaking children in their classrooms, here is a book to recommend.

Captain Rake and the Ocean Pirates   –  Ο Καπετάν Τσουγκράνας και οι πειρατές του Ωκεανού 

14024

by Argyro Mountaki  –  Αργυρώ Μουντάκη

This is a book for early readers who have got past the basic stage and are ready for something a bit more challenging, while still enjoying a wealth of illustrations.

It is a lovely story, encouraging children to think of kindness and what it really means to be courageous, and find one’s inner strength, through a fun pirate story. Building on these themes, there is an undercurrent of suggesting that children should not judge by immediate appearances, with both monsters and pirates not being quite as they seem at first, not to mention the hidden potential of sandwiches!

Children can set sail with Captain Rake, an unusual pirate whose problem is that he is afraid. Along with his friend Christopher, they can follow through his adventure as he overcomes this problem. On discovery of a message in a bottle, he sets off in search of a monster, who he hopes will give him all his courage in return for a joke. However, the tale is not entirely straightforward, and there are lively twists and turns to give depth to the tale and keep children’s attention.

fb_img_1533530804467

It will stimulate the young imagination through its fresh and different approach to the genre: unlike many other pirate stories aimed at this age group, this one is not stuck in a pseudo-Middle Ages environment without technology, but even mentions TV cameras and other modern devices that children these days can relate to. The writing flows beautifully, in a light and playful tone with a varied language, from words to sentence structure, to help young readers to enrich their vocabulary and consider alternative ways to express themselves.

The illustrations by the talented Christine Menard are bright, cheerful and colourful, full of a vibrance that will appeal to children and which suits the story very well.

The book is available here

Argyro Mountaki

dsc_0561

 

Argyro Mountaki is a Greek author of children’s literature, born in Chania on the island of Crete. She is also a teacher of German language in public schools in Greece. She runs an internet site for parents and she writes book reviews published in distinct newspapers and internet sites.

She has studied German Language and Philology and also she has two Master Degrees, one MBA and one in Literature, and is soon to finish her PhD Thesis in Philology. She has taken part in many conferences as a speaker concerning philological matters. She has been writing books since 2005. Her books are published by Patakis, Metaixmio, and Minoas Publications and are beloved by children. She is married and has two children.

 

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Medallion Level Sponsors Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org. Super Platinum: Make A Way Media GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTVLerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press, SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls, BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul,RedfinAuthor Gayle H. SwiftT.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht AminiAuthor Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm,Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana andA Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing,Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianClaudia SchwamLori DeMoniaTerri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERECo-Hosts and Global Co-HostsA Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms,Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on itGrowing Book by BookHere Wee Read,Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: https://wp.me/P5tVud-1H Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Alien

In recent years, with the popularity of science fiction books and films, this word has been used more and more in the context of “extra-terrestrial, being from another planet”. In British English, it is used only extremely rarely to mean ‘foreigner’, and there are references to this in popular culture at the expense of US English, where it continues to have this meaning; such as in the song by Sting Englishman in New York, where he sings “I’m an alien, I’m an Englishman in New York” precisely because it sounds strange to the British listener.

It is interesting that it should sound strange, as that is precisely what the word once meant. You can see it in the meaning of foreigner – a person from a strange country. And what is an extra-terrestrial if not a being from a strange planet?

It came into English during the fourteenth century. We can see a few examples of it where it is used in different contexts, with differing meanings. Our first example comes from Guy de Chauliac’s medical text dating from 1425 Grande Chirurgie.

If any man..falle fro hyȝnez &..seiþ aliene or straunge þinges , it is to suppose þat þe brayne..is hurt.

If anyone falls from a height and sees alien (peculiar) or strange things, it is to suppose that the brain is hurt.

In this example, the meaning of ‘alien’ is ‘odd, strange, peculiar’. Nothing to do with anything extraterrestrial or even from other countries. But if you think of it in terms of ‘foreign to me’, you can see how the sense developed.

Another example, also from the same time period, is in the Wycliffite Bible.

Bifore me þou schalt not haue noon alien goddis.

Before me thou shalt not have any alien (foreign) gods

In this context, the word is used to mean ‘from another place, foreign’. So you can see that during the fifteenth century, it was used in several different ways.

But where did it come from? Well, it was borrowed into Middle English from Old French, where it also meant strange or foreign. But Old French is not the start of the tale: it borrowed the word from Latin alienus. In Latin it meant ‘foreign, strange’ but also ‘of someone else, belonging to someone else’ – and it is not a large stretch to see that ‘of someone else’ can become ‘of another country’. It was formed from the Latin adverb alius, which meant ‘another, other, different’.

From Latin we go back to Proto-Indo-European *al- which would have meant ‘other’ or ‘beyond’ (elsewhere). We can also see words formed from this root in Greek, such as άλλος [allos], meaning ‘other, another’ or the adverb αλλιώς [allios], meaning ‘otherwise’.

Birth

Here is a word that applies to all of us without exception. No matter where or how, we have all been born: we have all had a birth.

So where does the word come from? Is it a Latin root, through French, perhaps. Well, no, in French it is naissance. Is it from Greek? In Greek, birth is γεννα [genna] or τοκετός [toketos]. So we will have to look elsewhere.

Let’s start by going back to Middle English. Here we may find various spellings, including bird, burd, burth, borth and byrd as well as the much more familiar birth. We have a nice example in On the Properties of Things, John Trevisa’s translation from Latin of Bartholomaeus’s De Proprietatibus Rerum, dating to 1398.

If defnes be in birþe, it is incurable.

Deafness from birth is incurable.

 

The words and sentiment are all familiar and easy to understand. Some parts of the human experience have changed very little or not at all over the centuries it seems. Going back slightly earlier, to 1225, we have a quote from Old English Homilies at Trinity College:

On þe ehteðe dai efter his burþe

On the eighth day afer his birth

Does this bring us any closer to the origin of the word? Well, birþe and burþe are alternate spellings of the same word, and it derives from Old Norse *byrðr, also meaning ‘birth’. However, this is not where the tale ends. The Old Norse word was easily adopted by English speakers, as it was cognate with and similar to the word that had previously been used: Old English gebyrd. Here is an example from the Codex Exoniensis, a tenth century collection of poetry in Old English:

Bearnes þurh gebyrde

through the birth of a child

Very similar here in the Anglo Saxon Gospels, from a similar time frame:

Cennan bearn mid gebyrdum

to bring forth children by birth

The interesting thing is that both gybyrd and *byrðr derive from the same place: Proto-Germanic *gaburthis, which also gave rise to Dutch geboorte and German Geburt. This in turn came from Proto-Indo-European *bhrto, which is thought to be the past participle root of *bher, meaning ‘to bear children’ or ‘to carry’. Is this the end of our tale? Not quite. This root in Proto-Indo-European is also thought to be the source of numerous other words in Greek, including the words for mare (possibly as a horse that bears a load), bring, and coffin. Somehow it seems fitting that coffin and birth are linked, albeit in different languages: it highlights the circle of life.