la laxma'i spaji spaji

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2008-03-26

u'a tolvli nolraitrunau : Checkmate!

ni'o lo latmo cu te fanva zo catra fu lo pa ci mei

i ju'o mi djuno lo du'u do peisku ma kau i do peisku lu ua panra lo du'u loi bangrninuiti cu te fanva zo snime fu so'i da li'u i da'i nai lo bi'u nai se panra cu jitfa i je ku'i lo go'i cu ru'i se krici so'i da i ja'e bo lo go'i cu krasi zoi zoi snowclone zoi noi ke'a se finti la'o zoi Glen Whitman zoi zi'e noi ke'a se mupli la'e ti

i je ku'i da'i nai lo latmo cu te fanva zo catra fu lo pa ci mei i la'e di'u se xusra ve cu'u la'o zoi Cassell's New Latin Dictionary zoi i e'o ko catlu fi'o birti do
Latin has thirteen terms for 'kill'.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Oh, just as the Eskimos have so many words for 'snow'." But that turns out to be a myth, which is so tenacious that it has yielded the term 'snowclone' (coined by Glen Whitman) for expressions like these.

But the Romans really did have thirteen terms for 'kill', at least according to Cassell's New Latin Dictionary. See for yourself:

pa ci mei co valsi zo catra lo latmo
i je ku'i no lo valsi be se pa'u ti noi pixra cu te farvi lo valsi be zo catra bei lo spano be'o no'u zoi zoi matar zoi i la'e di'u cu co'a se jundi mi se ja'e lo nu pa terpinka pe la'o zoi Bradshaw of the Future zoi cu smadi lo du'u zoi zoi -mate zoi pe se pa'u zoi zoi checkmate zoi ge'u e lo bi'u nai valsi be fi lo spano cu se farvi fi da to zoi zoi check- zoi se farvi fi zoi zoi šāh شاه zoi noi ke'a valsi zo nolraitrunau lo bangrfarsi toi i se mu'i bo ai mi sisku cilre lo du'u ma kau te farvi zoi zoi matar zoi i je ku'i lo se go'i ve cu'u la'o zoi Real Academia Española zoi cu tolselbirti

i so'e roi se xusra fa lo du'u zoi zoi -mate zoi te farvi zoi zoi māt مات zoi noi valsi zo morsi lo xrabo i je ku'i la'o zoi Goofy zoi pe se fi'e la'o zoi Bradshaw zoi prije xusra lo du'u la'e di'u na'e racli i ni'i bo lo caxmati valsi cu farvi lo xrabo valsi lo bangrfarsi valsi i je bo na go'i lo te go'i lo se go'i i se ni'i bo la'ermau fa lo du'u zoi zoi māt مات zoi noi ke'a valsi zo tolvli lo bangrfarsi cu te farvi

ni'o ju'o zoi zoi māt مات zoi valsi zo morsi lo xrabo i se ni'i bo na'e tolracli fa lo nu krici lo du'u lo go'i cu te farvi zoi zoi matar zoi
Yet none of these words is the origin of the Spanish word for 'kill', 'matar'. This came up because a commenter on Bradshaw of the Future guessed that the -mate in checkmate is related to the Spanish. ('Check-' comes from Persian 'šāh شاه' 'king'.) I figured I'd look up the origin of 'matar', but the Real Academia Española says that it's uncertain.

The origin usually given for '-mate' is the Arabic 'māt مات' 'dead'. But Goofy of Bradshaw wisely asserts that that doesn't make sense, because chess terms go from Persian to Arabic & not in the other direction. Hence the more likely origin is the Persian '
māt مات' 'helpless'.

Nonetheless '
māt مات' is certainly the Arabic word for 'dead', so it's not crazy to think that it is the origin of 'matar'.

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4 Comments:

Blogger PCarino said...

I was relieved when I found out a few years ago that the 20-Eskimo-words-for-snow story was a myth, I'm not sure why. Maybe because I secretly envied the Eskimos and their idyllic, snow-naming lifestyle, and everyone wants to see a snobby, prolix igloo-dweller slip on a banana peel.

But anyway, I am loving that Snowclone site, which comes at the heels of a discussion that my co-workers and I were having about journalistic cliches and how to avoid them. (Or even eschew them.) I have shared this link with them--thanks!

02 April, 2008 14:01  
Blogger komfo,amonan said...

If LSS has improved the writing of even one journalist...

Really, if I could, I would communicate exclusively in snowclones. Would I alienate everyone I know within a week? Yes.

Love me, love my snowclones!

02 April, 2008 15:15  
Blogger master_of_americans said...

Maybe matar has something to do with a cognate of the English "murder"? Some sort of Gothic connection, perhaps?

20 April, 2008 13:18  
Blogger komfo,amonan said...

[Late response:] 'Murder' seems to come from PIE '*mer'. I'm no PIE expert, but I reckon the experts (BoTF, RAE) would have come up with a route from '*mer' to 'matar' -- via Gothic or whatever -- if there were one.

01 June, 2008 00:48  

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