Saturday, October 5, 2013

Neesings ...

I suspected it might have been what Anglo-Saxons would have spelled "be sinum fneosungum leoht sceonaþ" or possibly "leoht leosaþ". But I am not sure (without looking up) whether "leosaþ" is cognate of German "lösen" (which does not fit)* or with Swedish "lysa" (which does), I even suspect it is lösen. Now English has two words from fneosan - neese and sneeze. First neese by elimination of f and then sneese (later sneeze) by strengthening of it to a more strident consonant. There is a similar couple in Swedish - fnysa and nysa. Since we had English missionaries in the tenth C, it could be a doublet of loan words.

Now, nysa and sneeze mean the same thing. It is the involuntary explosion of breath after itching in the nose. Like when you have a cold. Or take too much mustard or horseradish.

So I wonder whether fnysa and neese might also mean the same thing - the kind of voluntary or semivoluntary violent breath from nose which denotes anger or irritation. When it comes to horses being eager or angry, we say "fnysa" in Swedish. The fact is I find Leviathan a bit more terrible if it is the latter that makes some liquids in his head combine and ignite (Hovind's theory about how it works, technically, as in Bombardier Beetle).**

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Placidus and Companions
Martyrs in Messina

Won't hide this discussion: here.

*It is not: lösen is leasan of course! Both as they suppose from *Proto-Germanic present stem with *-au-.

**And most terrible of all if his voluntary "neesings" (supposing I got meaning right) get the relative strength to his body size as a sneeze would.

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