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Old 2021-01-12, 16:18   #1
Nick's Avatar
Dec 2012
The Netherlands

2·7·113 Posts
Default Foreign words with a twist

This is a thread about words taken from one language and used with a related but distinct meaning in another language.

A typical way in which this occurs is that common nouns in local languages become proper nouns in other languages.
For example:
  • Bantu was the Bantu people's word for "people";
  • Chechen is the Chechen word for "people";
  • Nile was (disputedly) the local word for "river".
You can imagine an outsider arriving, asking "what's that?" and being told "it's the river" (using the local word),
then thinking "apparently they call it the Nile".
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Old 2021-01-12, 18:57   #2
xilman's Avatar
May 2003
Down not across

10,501 Posts

"Deutsch" or "Dutch" originally meant "people".

Avon (as in Stratford-on Avon) is Celtic for "river". There are quite a few "River Avon"s in the UK.

The best example in my experience is a village called Brill in Buckinghamshire, a couple of km from where I used to live. It is located at the top of a prominent hill and is often called Brill-on-the-hill. Brill itself was registered in the Domesday book as Brunhelle. The -helle part is obviously the ร†nglisc hyll, modern English hill. The first part is from the Brythonic Celtic breg, also meaning hill (c.f. Lallans brae for hillside or brow of a hill).

So, a place called Hill-hill-on-the-hill.
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