More wordflowers from the garden

The last post dealt with jardín/garden, which traces back to Germanic gart. The modern German word is Garten (German capitalizes its nouns, as English used to), which we recognize from Kindergarten, literally ‘children’s garden.’ Spanish and English have both borrowed the term, though in a clear case of throwing away the bathwater but making sure to keep the baby, Spanish often pulls the plug on the garten while not letting the kínder go down the drain.

Germanic gart developed from the Indo-European root *gher-, which meant ‘enclosure.’ Another descendant of that root was hortus, the Latin word for ‘garden’ and the forerunner of the synonymous Spanish huerto. Similarly, Spanish hortelano is ‘a gardener; a market gardener; a truck farmer,’ while hortaliza refers to ‘any edible plant grown in a garden.’ In fact the cultivation of a garden or orchard is known as horticultura/horticulture. Seemingly growing from the same root was the Roman family name Hortensius, whose feminine version has given us the personal name Hortensia/Hortense (with the English form coming through French). And speaking of gardens, we note that hortensia was an older name for what we now usually call a hydrangea.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:31:41

    there’s always something interesting to glean from your posts! i enjoyed this, but really appreciated the hydrangea trivia!


  2. shoreacres
    Jul 27, 2013 @ 18:47:38

    I’m going to have to make a short trek down the street and find out if the day care center calling itself the KinderGarden did so intentionally.

    I wonder if Dr. Seuss ever contemplated the possibility that it was Hortense who heard the Who? In any event, when I got to Hortense my first thought was of my 8th grade English teacher, Hortense Deutsch. I wondered if I could find her on the internet, and sure enough, here she is:

    Joseph F. Anderson, 61, of Arlington, Va., died suddenly on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013.
    Beloved husband of Catherine E. Deutsch-Anderson, formerly of Newton, [Iowa]…
    He also was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Mrs. M. Hortense Deutsch.

    The internet is a wondrous thing.


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Jul 27, 2013 @ 19:20:25

      My guess is that the KinderGarden changed the second part of its name to be in line with normal English.

      I’m glad that the mention of Hortense sent you yet again on a successful trek through the Internet, which is indeed a boon to researchers. Too bad your teacher isn’t still alive.


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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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