off topic, bloom / flower / back yard

Jane McGary
Mon, 10 Feb 2014 12:12:29 PST
Peter wrote
As an aside, I have a feeling that the word "garden" has something to do
>with "guard house", in the days of castles and fortified houses. It would,
>perhaps,have been the area between the inner and outer defended walls of a

Not very recently if at all. Both "garden" and "yard" are descended 
from Old Germanic "gart" 'enclosure', but "guard" (and "warden, 
etc.") come from Germanic "wart-" meaning "(keep) watch." That's why 
"guard" in English has a "u" in it; "guard" and "ward" form what 
philologists call a doublet, being two words from one ancient source 
that have entered a language at different times. Incidentally, the 
old British and current US unit of measurement "yard" is traced to 
"gart" 'stick', but I wonder if 'enclosure' may have been an 
extension of 'stick' because of the ancient practice of setting up 
stockades. One would have to go back farther than Germanic to find out.

Peter, if this is an ongoing interest, you can subscribe to the 
Oxford English Dictionary under OEDOnline. It's expensive, so I don't 
have a current subscription, but I had free access when I was working 
directly for Oxford UP. It's all to easy to get "lost in the web of 
words," the title of a book about the founding editor of the OED. You 
would also have fun reading "How to Kill a Dragon" by Calvert Watkins.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, just starting to thaw.

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