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Like it or not, you probably have eggs on the brain. The massive recall of shell eggs is growing, along with reported cases of salmonella food poisoning. Learn the symptoms of salmonella and why it shares its name with salmon, right here.

While digging into the facts behind this scary situation, we found a story about the word “egg” that almost cracked our shell. Basically, two different terms for “egg” vied with each other across England  until the 1500s, when “egg” won out. The loser? The now obsolete word “eye,” which was pronounced just like the things you are using to read these words.

Way back, England faced more invasions than there are ways to cook an egg. The Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes and the Normans are some of the peoples who tried to conquer the island, with varying degrees of success. (It’s probably obvious that England derives its name from the Angles, “land of the Angles.”) Eventually the marauders beat their swords into ploughshares and even fell in love outside of their ancestral groups. Language, however has a way of preserving conflict across generations.

The languages spoken by many of these Germanic groups shared a common ancestor. With time and distance, each strand evolved into distinct languages that were no longer mutually intelligible — which brings us back to “egg.”

Up until the 1500s, residents of the Northern part of England called an egg an “egg,”  from Old Norse. But Southerners called the same oval, shelled object an “eye” or “eai” (both rhyming with “guy”),  from Old English. Both words started with the same Proto-Germanic root, ajja.  Even as William the Conqueror brought stability to the island, the linguistic battle of “egg” raged on in a myriad of conversations until “egg” became what you scramble, and a scrambled “eye” would only earn you confused glances.

What about “egg” as a verb? It comes from an entirely different source, the Old Norse eggja, “to incite.”

If you think all this seems bizarre, wait till you taste the mystery of where the word “coffee” comes from, here.

Hadrian’s Wall.(Review)

Antiquity September 1, 2000 | JAMES, N.; STODDART, SIMON DAVID J. BREEZE & BRIAN DOBSON. Hadrian’s Wall (4th edition). xvii+357 pages, 36 figures, 14 tables, 38 plates. 2000. London: Penguin; 0-14-027182-1 paperback 9.99 [pounds sterling] & Can$22.99.

Prof. WACHER’S description of Roman Britain uses the helpful concept of landscapes but less analytically than Ken & Petra Dark’s The landscape of Roman Britain (1997), which he does not cite. His procedure is similar: an outline of the Iron Age background followed by descriptions of the remains of military, agricultural, rural, urban and industrial activities. It is full of enlivening detail, and his critical assessments of the evidence are illuminating but, as his admirers would expect, Prof. WACHER dwells less than the Darks on the countryside and makes more of the urban and military archaeology; and, in stead of assessing continuities beyond the Roman period, he makes an interesting summary of `Roman survival in the modern landscape’. go to website hadrian s wall

Mr EDWARDS’ approachable little book will do a good job of helping local people to appreciate their archaeology. The first half describes the history of research; there is a brief summary of the Roman history; there are descriptions of the museum and of finds; the route for a walk is set out; and there is a gazetteer of inscriptions with very helpful commentary. It is a model. in our site hadrian s wall

The last edition of BREEZE & DOBSON came out 13 years ago. The new one is longer by 10%. Among the details updated are growing caution in attributions of work on Hadrian’s Wall to specific legions and new information on the phasing of the Antonine Wall. The chapter on the 3rd and 4th centuries has been substantially rewritten. Also up-dated is the next title; and the following one has the honour of replacing the booklet of the same title published 25 years ago, one of the very first of Shire’s pithy booklets on British archaeology.

JAMES, N.; STODDART, SIMON

53 Comments

  1. Anonymous -  November 20, 2011 - 11:26 am

    To the speaker of “Pig Latin”: actually, words that start with vowels follow different rules: egg is “eggway”

    Reply
  2. kate -  October 15, 2011 - 7:15 pm

    the word ‘eye’ was also the old english word for island (in a river), such as in the name “Swansea” (eye [or island] of the river Swan)

    also for daisy, or “day’s eye”

    Reply
  3. Al -  October 15, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    What?

    > The now obsolete word “eye,” which was pronounced
    > just like the things you are using to read these words.

    “EYE,” was pronounced just like “GLASSES?”

    Now… that’s just absurd…. ;-)

    Reply
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