Archiv vom November 17th, 2008

During that weird state between sleep and waking, the mind is in a very special state. Especially heavy and sluggish, I often think. But sometimes, it is also capable of surprising insights. Unfortunately, these often vanish before one can use them. It helps to hold on to them immediately, but the heavy and sluggish part is not really helpful there.
However, sometimes it works. This morning, various Old English words tumbled around in my head. This was probably a result of reading David Crystal's By Hook or By Crook yesterday night. One of the words was sælig, that is sad. Suddenly, I noticed the similarity to Finnish sääli, that is pity (also as in what a pity).
I do not really know what to make of this, but English and Finnish are not related, so this is either an astonishing coincidence, or one of the languages has, at some point, imported the word.
Finnish has lots of indoeuropean (and especially germanic) roots, but I know of only one finnish word to make it into English: sauna.
Once I am home, I will consult my library.
[Postscript:]I am home again and have looked it up. Now this story has a tiny problem: sælig means happy (compare German selig). There goes the theory of immense brain power during half-sleep.

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