Words (17)

wordsLinnetmoss (Linnet thank you) drew my attention to the word “buée” that I used in Haiku (4) (“mist”, in English the only one syllable word  I could use in English (that I know of)  but that did not satisfy me entirely). It has a form  and a pronunciation that indicates quite clearly that it is a French word, that is to say a word that has naturally evolved from Latin to French, which is quite often the case  of one or two syllable words (while longer words have often been borrowed later to Latin, although this is not an absolute rule). I used this word in a  haiku to evoke the  vapour coming  out of the mouth  when it is cold. Its lexical origin is not as transparent, as some other words. So it was good to discover how the word has evolved. The starting point in gallo-roman bucata “laundry” has followed the French  phonetic evolution to produce a   much shorter found around the thirteenth century, buée. Its meaning extended  later to  evaporation generated by the washing. The word then lost  its linkage with the washing process to simply designate the steam. What a pleasure to see the waltz of language evolution


4 thoughts on “Words (17)”

  1. I love etymology…or what you call the waltz of language evolution. It’s one thing to try and get the precise word, especially when translating from one language to another, but when it comes to poetry a whole new world of words presents itself. Your statement above got me to thinking a bit about the possibilities–especially metaphorical–for expressing what we know as our visible breath in cold air…..we might say we are making clouds, or fog, as well as mist….and there is also the English word “brume”…..does a witch in the winter float on her brume? 🙂

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