Monday, May 9, 2011

"Sunday" Trivia 15

Well, it's Monday again, and you know what that means... Sunday trivia! (Sorry for the tardiness. I have no excuse beyond enjoying the first few days of summer vacation.)

Metathesis is the rearrangement of sounds in a word. Besides being a common feature of casual speech, metathesis also plays into the etymology of many words in English. Bird, for example, comes from the Old English bryd, and horse comes from hros. Ask, which is commonly said as "aks" in some dialects, was present in Old English as ascian and acsian, which were both acceptable variations until the 1600s. In some cases, both forms remain in the written spellings, as with three and third. And sometimes a word will undergo metathesis back and forth over the centuries, as crud derived from curd which derived from crud.

And some words have been so scrambled they're unrecognizable. Walrus is from Dutch, and probably derives from the Old Norse rosmhvalr, hrosshvalr, or rostungr. And the rosm in rosmhvalr may come from Finnish mursu, so the sounds are even more tangled. Leprechaun comes from the Old Irish luchorpan, literally "a very small body."

Your trivia question today is about metathesis. Name two words in modern English from the same Latin source, but one of which has metathesized heavily, ending up with (almost) the same four consonants but with the last three in reverse order.

Hint: both words relate to communication.

(One consonant has been altered over the years but is still very similar.)

(Thanks to Becca Cheney for giving me walrus on last week's trivia!)

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