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BAIRN

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BAIRN

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:06 pm

• bairn •

Pronunciation: bey(r)n

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A child, a baby

Notes: Today's word has a healthy and happy brood itself. Bairnly "childish" is the adjective and adverb, which come with their own noun, bairnliness. Bairnhood is childhood and childishness is bairnliness. A family may be bairnless; if so, they suffer from bairnlessness.

In Play: This Good Word requires a keen awareness of whereabouts in use. In Scotland or Northern England (Yorkshire) you will be safe to use it, or wherever the Scottish congregate. In The Strength of the Strong, Jack London wrote, "Eleven bairns ha' I borne," [Margaret Henan] said; "sux o' them lossies [lassies] an' five o' them loddies [laddies]." The pictures hereabout are of Dr. Goodword's wee grandbairns, Laurel and Abigail, who live in Colorado.

Word History: It always give me great pleasure to discuss a word that was not borrowed from any language. Today's Good Word is pure English, inherited from its Germanic ancestors. The word in Old Germanic was *barno- from the verb beran "to bear", which remains in all English dialects. Bairn is the Scottish form, but Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish retain it as barn. German and Dutch switched to kind and English, to child, which goes back to a *kil-d-. The root *kil- was an old Germanic word meaning "womb" while kind is related to English kin, to "generate", and to the gyne in gynecology. (An old Agora activist, Ekkis, raised the issue of naming our issue across Germanic languages.)
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Re: BAIRN

Postby anders » Sun Feb 27, 2005 6:45 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:It always give me great pleasure to discuss a word that was not borrowed from any language. Today's Good Word is pure English, inherited from its Germanic ancestors. ... Bairn is the Scottish form

Different opinious abound. Some say things like BAIRN, from Old English bearn, child, from Germanic barnam (Am. Heritage Etym. Dict.) Wyld: The Universal English Dictionary says, "Scots, partially adopted into English". I support the view that Scots/Lowland Scots/Lallans is a language in its own right, and so the word already here is a borrowing into English. My Swedish source (Hellquist) explains that the "northern English" baírn is a loan from Nordic languages.

In any case, I would find it strange if I heard it in English without a vigorous, trilled lingual "r". In standard Swedish and Norwegian, the /-rn-/ becomes a retroflex n. The r in Finnish Swedish is as healthy as the Scottish one; the southern Swedish r is a kind of uvular/pharyngal fricative, in some varieties a good substitute for Arabic ghayn. In Danish, you won't hear an "r" at all in barn; it disappears into some kind of glottal happening.
Irren ist männlich
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Re: BAIRN

Postby tcward » Sun Feb 27, 2005 10:07 am

anders wrote:In Danish, you won't hear an "r" at all in barn; it disappears into some kind of glottal happening.


Ah, that same stock must have brought their 'r' sound into southern England and the US... ;)
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Re: BAIRN

Postby KatyBr » Sun Feb 27, 2005 2:19 pm

tcward wrote:
anders wrote:In Danish, you won't hear an "r" at all in barn; it disappears into some kind of glottal happening.


Ah, that same stock must have brought their 'r' sound into southern England and the US... ;)


most certainly in Maine and parts of New Yook City(sic), they save their "r"s for words that have either never known an r or alreadly have one in a different place.....

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Re: BAIRN

Postby Garzo » Mon Feb 28, 2005 8:17 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:This Good Word requires a keen awareness of whereabouts in use. In Scotland or Northern England (Yorkshire) you will be safe to use it, or wherever the Scottish congregate.


We could have done without the brackets. I don't believe that his word is part of Yorkshire dialect at all. It is used in Northern England, and I was expecting that to be left out, but is generally used north of the Tees. It is the usual world for child in Darlington, just north of the Tees, and so is probably also in use in the Dales. The coverall term would be Northumbria, as it referrences the dialect area of Old English that is the precursor to the modern dialects of the North of England and Lallans.
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Postby Flaminius » Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:01 pm

Garzo,

How do different dialects pronounce the r in bairn? And what is Tees? River Tamesis, the dark one?
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Postby Garzo » Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:17 am

Yes, that's another point! In all dialects that use the word, the post-vocalic r is pronounced (i.e. it shouldn't be in brackets in the article).

The River Tees is the traditional dividing line within Northumbria. It seems that Northumbria was a dual kingdom, with Deira south of the river and Bernicia to the north. When traditional counties were established, Northumberland and County Durham occupied the north, while Yorkshire occupied the south. A few local government reforms have muddied the waters of the Tees, but that's the way it still is. Yorkshire dialect has developed quite differently from north Northumbria, and it is less like Scots. Yorkshire accents tend to be flatter in tone, whereas Northumbrian accents often have sharp rising tones.
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