Saturday, 10 November 2012

Daybreak : dægred : dageraad

Reading through David Crystal's fabulous 'Cambridge Encyclopaedia of The English Language' and I came across a section on Old English vocabulary. I really am fascinated by this link through time to our language's ancestor. It seems so different; how can we even label them both English? Tīdymbwlātend for example means astronomer!

Some words, when explained however, do seem more like close cousins than distant relatives. Sunnandæg or eorþcræft (earthcraft) can be guessed (Sunday and geometry), but others are a bit more mysterious with hints to the modern equivalent. Especially if we compare them with Dutch!

Dægred is a composite word of 'dæg' (day) and 'red' (red) [Crystal, Cambridge Encyclopaedia of The English Language' p.22] and gives a rather poetic interpretation of daybreak or dawn. Checking out the Dutch translation we see a very similar word: 'dageraad'. However this Dutch etymology link claims that 'raad' is not linked to 'red' as in the Old English version ("echter niet samenstelling met rood."). Reference here. This despite red being in Old Frisian, 'rad' and Old Dutch 'root'.

Are these words (dægred and dageraad) not of the same etymology then? Or has somebody got it wrong? Surely not David Crystal!!

Daybreak : English
dægred : Old English
dageraad : Modern Dutch

Day red?

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