Sat, 30 Mar 2019
Katara just read me the story she wrote in Latin, which concerns two men who chase after a corax. “What kind of animal is corax?” I asked.
“It's a raven.”
“Awesome,” I said. “I bet it's onomatopoeic.”
So I looked into it, and yup! It's from Greek κόραξ. Liddell and Scott's Greek-English lexicon says (p. 832):
κράζω (krazo) and κρώζω (krozo) mean “to croak”. “Croak” itself is also onomatopoeic. And it hadn't occurred to me before that English “crow” is also onomatopoeic. Looking into it further, Wikipedia also tells me that the rook is also named from the sound it makes.
(J.R.R. Tolkien was certainly aware of all of this. In The Hobbit has a giant raven named Roäc, the son of Carc.)
Liddell and Scott continues:
κορώνίς (koronis) means “curved”, and in particular a “corona” or crown. Curvus of course means curved, and is akin to Latin corvus, which again means a crow.
The raven's beak does not look so curved to me, but the Greeks must have found it striking.
[Other articles in category /lang/etym] permanent link