Monday, July 13, 2015

Four, fourth, fourteen, FORTY?? via Sue- Anne

Dear Word Spy, 

I'm hoping very much that you can help a friend of mine who has asked this question ...

 "If we have FOUR and FOURTEEN...then why do we have FORTY and not FOURTY? This really bugs me! Is there a logical explanation ... ? 😣

Yours forever in awe of your knowledge and cleverness smile emoticon Sue-Anne

Dear Sue-Anne,

Firstly ALL APOLOGIES for the delay in answering this delightful question - for some reason I just didn't see it on the page until tonight. (not VERY good word spying there!) Please apologise to your friend for me. Dear dear. 

Now, as for an answer... Hmm. Well, let's see. The word FORTY comes from Old English FEOWERTIG meaning ten groups (tig) of four (feower). And FOURTEEN comes from Old English FEOWERTENE meaning ten more than (tene) four (feower.)

Not much help there! At that rate we should be spelling them FEOWER, FEOWERTENE and FEORWTIG. But as times passes, spelling mysteriously changes, and perhaps not always with a great deal of logic around it.

Tell you what, I am going to approach my consultant Word Spy, P.A.W. for some in-depth insight into this problem, and I will let you know as soon as I hear back from her.

warm wordy wondering wishes, The Word Spy

PS UPDATE Further to this, having consulted P.A.W. here is a marvellous, almost TOO rich, link with FEOWER (Old English four) related words which is a dizzying pleasure to read. I especially like the word Feorthling, meaning "a fourth part"which of course turned in to "farthing". For your recommended delectation!

THANK YOU PENNY! (the Word Spy's much smarter colleague...)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your question for the Word Spy ...