Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Fart is Forever

OK, I stole that title from one of my poet girlfriend's funnier poems.

But it apparently is true in that, in the Indo-European family of languages, which stretch geographically from Indian to Spain and England, the word for "fart" has a similar and virtually predictable set of sounds in all of the Indo-European languages.

The verb form of "fart" is "perdomai" in Greek, "pardate" in Sanskrit, "furzan" in Old German ("furzen" in modern German) and "feortan" in Old English. It's also "perdet(s)" in Russian and "pierdziec" in Polish. In Latin it is "pedere" and in French it is "peter." (Pronounced "pay-tay.) Italian, however, has gotten away from using the noun "peto" and now uses "scoreggia" instead.

The pattern here is that languages of the Romance, Slavic, Greek and Satem (eastern Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit) lineages tend to form their word for "fart" from the sounds P-R-D while the northern European languages--German, English and Scandinavian--use F-R-T. Obviously these sounds shift and change, but the basic pattern has been kept for thousands of years. (In German, "z" is pronounced "ts," so that is consistent with the F-R-T pattern.)

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