brid’s the wrod?

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment


Well perhaps this is a really old pot. A much older form of bird in English was brid sometimes brydd.
From the OED

Etymology: Middle English byrd, bryd< Old English brid(masculine) (plural briddas), in Northumbrian bird, birdas ‘offspring, young,’ but used only of the young of birds. There is no corresponding form in any other Germanic language, and the etymology is unknown.

The vowel and the liquid have undergone a process known as metathesis – the swapping of places of sounds within a word (though note speakers of NZE subsequently do not pronounce the postvocalic liquid). Most often seen as a phonological process which results in change over time, a few languages use metathesis for grammatical purposes. Sierra Miwok a language a severely endangered language of California uses this process to derive nouns:

Base Derived form
kalaŋ ‘to dance’ kalŋa ‘a dance’
ʔumuʧ ‘to approach winter’ ʔumʧu ‘winter’
tuyaŋ ‘to jump’ tuyŋa ‘a jump’
ʔawin ‘to play’ ʔawni ‘a game’

(data from Stonham, J. 2006, p.93).

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