10 September 2008

A window to words

There was an interesting discussion about the word fenster / venster last night. The subject of the topic revolved around its usage in French and the Afrikaans language.

According to Dictonary.com, it is "
an erosional break in an overthrust rock sheet, exposing the rocks that underlie the sheet ... and "also a window".

They do provide a bit of background about the word. Apparently it dates back to the 1920s and might have its humble beginnings in the German language. I wonder if OHG is alluding to Old High German? They also point out it might go all the way back to the Latin word - fenestra.

The Woxicon elaborates just a tad. They state that fenster is a German word, the English equivalent is the word window and the French is fenetre.

On a side note, here is the origin of the word window for English language (dictionary.com) is stated as follows:
[Origin: 1175–1225; ME windoge, windowe <>vindauga, equiv. to vindr wind1 + auga eye]

Another somewhat related sidenote - the name for the swing/tilt windows found in Europe is called das Dreh-Kipp Fenster.

Wiki has an excellent bit about the etymology of the words window and fenster.

Window is first recorded in the early 13th century, and originally referred to an unglazed hole in a roof. Window replaced the Old English ‘eagþyrl’, which literally means ‘eye-hole,’ and ‘eagduru’ ‘eye-door’. Many Germanic languages however adopted the Latin word ‘fenestra’ to describe a window with glass, such as standard Swedish ‘fönster’, or German ‘Fenster’. The use of window in English is probably due to the Scandinavian influence on the English language by means of loanwords during the Viking Age. In English the word fenester was used as a parallel until the mid-1700s and fenestration is still used to describe the arrangement of windows within a façade.