or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, September 14, 2006


If you don't know where the word "Thursday" comes from, just read the previous four blog entries and have a guess. Nordic god? Big guy with lightning bolts? Yes, Thursday is Thor's Day.

Thor was known in Old English as Thunor, and of course that's where the word "thunder" comes from as well. The German word is "Donnerstag"--you can see the similarity, particularly when you know that German doesn't have an interdental fricative.

And the French word is "jeudi", because Thursday is Jupiter's day: Jupiter is the Roman equivalent of Thor, thunderbolts and all.


I have almost no interest in clothing, as you'd immediately figure out if you ever saw me (jeans and untucked shirts, that's me). But the reality TV series "Project Runway" is mesmerizing: it takes a group of fashion designers and presents them with difficult clothes-making challenges (make a dress using only what you're wearing right now! create a garden-party dress out of flowers and leaves!) while whittling the group down, one contestant a week, until three are left, and then those remaining three get to mount a full-out fashion show. You get to watch the creative process--and lots of bitchery--unfold before your eyes. There's nothing else like it on television.

On the most recent episode, one contestant, told to make a couture gown (in two days!), was undone by a lot of misguided ruching. That's all well and good, but it was the word "ruche" that caught my eye, and brain. It looks so much like "ruck", and as we know, words that end in "-ch" are often related to similar words ending in "-k", usually with a vowel change.

A ruche is a a ruffle or a pleat of fabric, and it's obviously from the French. A ruck, on the other hand, is a wrinkle or a crease (if a piece of fabric or clothing is "rucked up", it's bunched up and wrinkled), and the meanings of the two words, while not identical, share enough overlap that I figured that one had to be the root of the other. Amazingly, they're unrelated; no family history at all. "Ruck" is from Old Norse "hrukka", "wrinkle", so we have either parallel evolution or a terrific coincidence.

"Ruck-" as in "rucksack" is, of course, unrelated to either of these: it's from German "rück", "back".


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