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Latin "desertum" and Egyptian "dšr.t"

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 Message 1 of 5
20 July 2012 at 10:55pm | IP Logged 
I'm deeply amused to discover that the Middle Egyptian word for desert is dšr.t, from
dšr, "red". Presumably there were once some vowels in that word.

The English word "desert", however, comes from the Latin "desertum", which in turn comes
from the proto-IE *ser-. So
there's no connection between the two, as far as I can tell.

Still, it's a pretty charming coincidence.
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 Message 2 of 5
21 July 2012 at 4:46am | IP Logged 
Crazy. Cool.

Especially when you consider that the *ser leads to "serere" which means to sow, which is all the more ironic.

Of course the "de-" is the same one in "deactivate." So maybe not so absurd in that context, but even so I had never
made the connection before.
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 Message 3 of 5
06 March 2013 at 7:16pm | IP Logged 
Hmm, what about Africa and Asia? They are both Latin in origin, but Arabic has them too. Was there any linguistic contact between Latin speakers and Arabic speakers?
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 Message 4 of 5
06 March 2013 at 7:47pm | IP Logged 
Ah yes, false cognates, gotta love them (well, I would if they weren't so frequently used to justify crackpot ethnolinguistic theories). My personal favourite is the pair of Japanese "gaijin" and Romany "gadjo", both essentially meaning "outsider". If you stretch it a little, you can continue the row with the Hebrew "goy", the Cantonese "gwailo", the Turkish "giaour/gâvur", the Latin American Spanish "gringo", the Peninsular Spanish "guiri" and probably a few more words beginning with "g".
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 Message 5 of 5
06 March 2013 at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
That reminds me of something I read some time ago. Apparently the word for "dog" in an Australian Aboriginal language is *drumroll*: "dog"! It's no loan from English, so you can make up some theories to explain that.

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