Redundant Ladies & Paradise
In last week’s comments section, the inimitable & oft-quoted Anne R. Allen proclaimed her interest in the connection between the words dough, lady & paradise.
Who am I to turn down a request from The Manners Doctor herself?
The connection hearkens back some 6000 years to the Proto-Indo-European word dheigh, dough. In a mere sixty centuries, dheigh morphed into the following words in the following ways:
lady – At some level, the word lady is redundant. It certainly is breadworthy, It was constructed of the Old English term for one who kneads dough, dage, plus the Old English word for loaf, hlaf. A hlafdage was originally one who made loaves of bread. Over time, the pronunciation and spelling morphed to lady.
paradise – Half this word started as the Greek combining form peri-, meaning around. We modern English speakers know this bit of Greek from the words perimeter, periscope, period, & periphery. The second part of paradise is our old Proto-Indo-European friend, dheigh, in its later meaning of to form or to build. The great grandmother of all paradises, is, of course, the Garden of Eden, a protected, perfect place. The word paradise suggests that a wall was formed around such a perfect spot.
A bonus thought – in another branch of this twisted linguistic tree, the term dheigh or dough, also came to be spelled dey & referred to the servant who made the dough. We still see vestiges of dey in the modern name Doubleday, servant of the twin.
Of course, Proto-Indo-European was never written down. It’s a language reconstructed by linguists, “believed to have been spoken well before 4000 B.C. in a region somewhere to the north or south of the Black Sea” (OxfordDictionaries.com). Though hard-working forensic linguists would disagree, the very existence of Proto-Indo-European as a language adds up to well-researched conjecture…
…& doesn’t the label, “well-researched conjecture” take us back to where we started last week? Ah, the word fiction.
My fellow writers, what comments do you have regarding bread-making servants, or redundant ladies, or the wall around the Garden of Eden? Offer up some well-researched (or completely non-researched) conjecture.