or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Drink Up

I am reading a book by Jeffrey Steingarten called It Must've Been Something I Ate, and about midway through comes the following sentence:

Bridal comes from the Old English "bride-ale", which refers to the drinking of ale at the wedding feast

and my first thought — you would think I would know better by now — was, "That's ridiculous! There are thousands of words in English that end in '-al', and most of them started as verbs or nouns that derived their adjectival status from the Latin suffix '-alis'."

And both of these sentences are true, but it nevertheless is also true that "bridal" did originate as Old English "bryd ealu", "bride ale", which became "brydealo", which is the wedding feast itself, and finally the adjective "bridal", which, contrary to its appearance, does not end in "-al". At least not the Latinate "-al" we all know and love.


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