Svengelska bloggen

Svengelska bloggen

Om bloggen/About the Blog

I aim to use this blog to keep up my English and maybe give others some insights in Swedish language. It's not a diary - well not quite...


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-09-07 21:12:32
Björnbär, Rubus fruticosus, is ’blackberry’. Björn is ‘bear’ and both words come from Germanic *beran ‘the brown one’, from Indoeuropean *bhero-, ‘brown’. Probably people did not dare to use the old Indoeuropean name *rksos, Latin ursus, for the same reason as the wolf has been called varg and then gråben in Sweden – too dangerous to use the real name.

Bär is ‘berry’ and both words come from a Germanic root *basjom, of unknown origin.

Latin rubus ‘blackberry’ is probably related to rubus, ‘red’. I thought fruticosus was related to ‘fruit’, but no, it means ‘bushy’, from frutex ‘bush’.

According to Den virtuella floran fruticosus has been used as a collective name for lots of blackberry subspecies, in Sweden at least thirty different ones. The wild ones we have here don’t usually give much berries, they are small and most of the time they become dry before they ripen. But this year is very different. In spite of the drought they are many and wonderfully juicy.


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-06-13 13:26:50

Syren, Syringa vulgaris, is ’lilac’. The word comes from Greek syrinx, ’water reed’, ’shepherd’s flute’. Ovid writes in his Metamorphoses that Syrinx was a nymph, daughter of the river Ladon. Once when the god Pan was out hunting he found the fair nymph and tried to rape her. The nymph fled and prayed her father for help. The help she got was to be transformed into a bunch of water reeds. Pan liked the sound of the wind in the reeds and from that day made his flutes of reeds. How this could give name to a bush with mauve flowers I haven't found out.

Lilac comes from French lilac from Spanish lilac, from Arabic lilak, from Persian lilak, ‘bluish’ from nil ‘indigo’.


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-06-02 12:45:34

Alm, Ulmus glabra, is ‘elm’. Alm and elm have roots back to a Germanic *elmaz, the same tree as Latin ulmus, all back to an Indoeuropean root, also with a shoot giving name to another tree: Swedish al , English alder, Latina alnus. The Indoeuropean root *el- should mean ‘red’ or ‘reddish brown’, which anybody who has seen an alder stump would understand. Another word with the same origin is älg, elk .

This young elm flowering near the path is probably the child of the big one on my neighbour’s lawn. Both look healthy and fortunately they probably grow too far from other elms for the awful Dutch elm disease to reach them.

Oh yes, the Latin adjectiv glaber, glabra, glabrum, means 'smooth', 'shiny' Probably because of the leaves.

I found a much better picture of the leaves here:


Växter/PlantsPosted by Gunvor 2013-05-29 14:04:50

Basilika, Ocimum basilicum, is ‘basil’. Latin basilicum comes from greek basilikon ‘regal’ from basileus ‘king’, of unknown origin, possibly from a language of Asia Minor. So called, probably, because it was believed to have been used in making royal perfumes. (Online Etymology Dictionary). Of course basilica, 'church', has the same Greek origin .

Latin Ocimum comes from Greek okimon, an aromatic herb, probably basil (Jen Corneliusson, Växternas namn).

It will soon be time to make pesto now, before they start flowering.

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