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Grand Panjandrum
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Postby Slava » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:27 pm

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day:

Dr. Goodword wrote:• leprechaun •

Pronunciation: le-prê-kahn

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A mythical Irish elfin, one of the mischievous Little People of Irish folklore with secrets to hidden treasure they share with those who catch them.

Notes: TThere are several spelling traps in this word, beginning with the second E, which is often miswritten as A. Next, look out for the CH which is pronounced [k], and, finally, the AU, which might be spelled [aw] in some dialects and [a], in others. (It is only spelled AU in all dialects.) There is an adjective, should you see someone resembling one of the wee folk: leprechaunish.

In Play: Everyone is Irish today, so we thought we would explore another word of Irish origin and wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's: "Twasn't me, mum, who broke the lamp, but a leaping little leprechaun who doesn't respect other people's property." The leprechauns do come out at night to figure in whatever mischief there is: "Well, doesn't he come home then in the wee small hours with that leprechaunish grin on his face!"

Word History: Nothing seems more Irish than the Gaelic word, leprechaun but lurking inside this word is a rare Latin borrowing. The Irish Gaelic luprachán, is a variation of Middle Irish luchrupán, which goes back to Old Irish luchorpán. This word is luchorp from lú- "small" + corp "body"—from Latin corpus 'body" + -án, a diminutive suffix. The Gaelic lu "small" is a radically reduced form of PIE *legwh- "light, having little weight" of which English light is a historical paronym. In Latin it emerged as levis "light" and in Russian lëgkiy "light". With a fickle [n], it also emerged in English as lungs which, not long ago, were called lights.

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