off topic yards and gardens

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 11:06:46 PST
I passed this discussion on to a family member who is a language professor specializing in Old English and this was his response regarding the ancient root words for garden and yard as in back yard:

"All of these words are related.  Comparative study of Indo-European languages suggests that an early Germanic word *war-, meaning "to watch or guard" was the basis for all of them.  The variety in modern English is due to overlapping waves of influence.  A noun form of the word, *gardo-z,  meaning a small piece on enclosed land, became garthr in Old Norse.  To the south it was borrowed into popular Latin as *gardinumand thence in to modern French jardin and Italian giardino.  It was also carried to England by the Anglo-Saxons as geard, where the pronunciation of the initial g was softened to y, giving modern English yard.  Later, when the Normans invaded England, they brought a variant of the French version, gardin, which led to the modern English garden.  This word had develop the more specific meaning of an enclosed, cultivated space, so the two words continued to existed side by side.  Meanwhile, Scandinavians entering the north of England brought garthrwith them, and it left the word gard or gart in northern English dialects.

Guard and warden come from the same Germanic root but took different paths that led to the different initial vowel sounds.”

Rimmer de Vries
Southeast Michigan
continental Zone 5- coldest and snowiest winter in memory 
the pink and yellow Velthiemia are blooming nicely by my window

On Feb 10, 2014, at 3:19 PM, penstemon <> 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
> dwelling?
> You would have to go back further than Old Norse to find a connection; the 
> OED suggests that the words up to that point had different meaning. 
> Garden=enclosure; guard=custody. "Ward" comes into this somehow; there's a 
> relationship there, probably.
> It seems to me that books like The New English Garden make attempts to 
> define the word "garden" completely pointless.
> Bob Nold,
> Denver, Colorado, USA 
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