A.W.A.D. - Proto-Indo-European Words

I've just returned from a six-week trip to India and Europe, an Indo-European tour, if you will. While I recover from the jetlag, I've arranged an Indo-European tour for you, and this one comes with no jetlag. This week we'll see five words that have come to us from Indo-European roots. About 6000 years ago, people in that region spoke a language that was the ancestor of most languages now spoken around the world -- languages as varied as Albanian, English, French, German, Greek, Norwegian, and Sanskrit.

There is no written record of the language but linguists now call this reconstructed language Proto-Indo-European. Let's look at a few wordsthat trace their origin to this prehistoric source.

(fuh-SEE-shee-ee) noun
Witty or humorous remarks or writings.

[From Latin facetia (jest). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dhe- (to set or put) which is also the source of do, deed, factory, fashion, face, rectify, defeat, sacrifice, satisfy, Sanskrit sandhi (literally, joining), Urdu purdah (literally, veil or curtain), and Russian duma (council).]

(PYOO-uh-suhnt) adjective

[Via French from Latin posse (to be able), ultimately from the Indo-European root poti- (powerful, lord) that is also the source of power, potent, possess, possible, posse, Italian podesta, and Turkish pasha (via Persian).]

(HOON-tuh, JUHN-) noun
A group, especially one made of military officers, ruling a country after a coup.

[From Spanish and Portuguese junta (committee, association), from Latin jungere (to join). Ultimately from the Indo-European root yeug- (to join) that also gave us yoke, junction, jugular, adjust, Sanskrit yoga, and Greekzeugma.]

(sil-uh-JIS-tik) adjective
1. Of or relating to syllogism (a form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion).
2. Subtle or specious.

1. Deductive reasoning.
2. A subtle or specious piece of reasoning.

[Via Middle English, French, and Latin from Greek syllogizes thai (to syllogize). Ultimately from the Indo-European root leg- (to collect, speak) that is also the source of other words such as lexicon, lesson, lecture, legible, legal, and select.]

(hy-puhr-GOL-ik) adjective
Igniting on contact.

[From German Hypergol (hypergolic fuel), from Greek hyper- (over, above) + erg- (work). Ultimately from the Indo-European root werg- (to do) which gave us ergonomic, work, energy, metallurgy, surgery, wright, and orgy.]

The term hypergolic refers to substances that ignite or explode on contact (without needing an external aid such as a spark). Hypergolic substancesare used as rocket fuel and explosives.


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