Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Just a thought (connection between words ending -ought in English and -acht/-ocht in Dutch)

A little thought piece looking at a connection I've noticed between words ending in '-ought' in English and their counterparts in Dutch which mostly end in '-ocht' and sometimes '-acht'.

As I was studying Dutch the other day it struck me that the words 'thought' and 'brought' (as past participles) have similar equivalents in Dutch and, just like in English, their equivalents end in a similar way!

Thought - gedacht
Brought - gebracht

It seems that this is a straight link between these types of words. I did a little digging and came up with the following list:

Bought - gekocht
Sought - gezocht
Fought - gevochten (but gevocht in the imperfect)
Wrought - gewrocht

Further digging in the etymology of the English words throws up some interesting evidence for the link:

Seek (Old English sohte) and zoeken both originate from the Proto-Germanic 'sokjanan', likewise fought (Old English fohten) and vechten come from fekhtanen and so on. Perhaps 'ought' was the English rendering of the k followed by j or h sound? -kj and -kh

The online etymology dictionary highlights why the -gh spelling for a 'hard H' sound is used. It was a scribal habit to represent the yogh.

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