Abstract : Citation : Online Sources : Other Notes
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The etymologies of English blood and bone are obscure. Although their cognates are well represented in the Germanic family, both lack clear cognates in other Indo-European languages. Various explanations of their origins have been proposed, including that they may be non-Indo-European (e.g. Hawkins 1987). Blood and bone, and their cognates, share an initial /b/ with numerous body-related words (e.g. beard, breast, bosom) throughout Germanic. This initial /b/ constitutes a phonestheme. Phonesthemes – ‘recurring sound-meaning pairings that are not clearly contrastive morphemes’ (Bergen 2004: 290) – are present in many Germanic languages, but their role in lexicogenesis is little understood. I suggest that blood and bone were formed by blending the initial /b/ phonestheme with two preexisting lexemes: Proto-Germanic *flōda– ‘something that flows’ and *staina– ‘stone.’ Phonesthetic blending may be a fruitful avenue for future etymological research.
Pentangelo, Joseph. 2021. Phonesthetics and the etymologies of blood and bone. English Language and Linguistics 25(2), 225–255. [Online: March 2020]
Many of the sources that I refer to in this and my other works are publicly available online for free. This section provides links to all such sources. (It’s not the complete reference list for this paper.)
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- This paper won the 2018 Richard M. Hogg prize from the International Society for the Linguistics of English (ISLE), and will be presented at the ISLE6 conference at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, Finland, in June 2021.
- An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Word-Formation Theories III & Typologies and Universals in Word-Formation IV conference at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Slovakia, in 2018.
- The earliest version of this paper served as my second qualifying paper in graduate school, earning me an en route M.Phil in February, 2017.