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Warlock - Etymology

Warlock - Etymology

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Published by Kolorbomb

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Published by: Kolorbomb on Jun 15, 2009
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06/26/2010

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What is a Warlock?by: Lil Bow WowWhat is a Warlock?I know that this thread has wound down considerably, but in theinterest of linguistics, I just wanted to add some potentially usefulinformation on the use of the term "warlock."First of note is that the Modern English definition of the term hasnothing to do with traitors or such, and at least according to the'Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary' is defined:1 : a man practicing the black arts: sorcerer;2 : conjurer".Whatever its hypothetical etymology, it is nowadays *not* used toindicate a traitor. And any who choose to self-identify as a warlockare saying nothing at all about their ability to keep oath. Also, ithas long irked me that compilers of Modern English dictionaries seemso very ignorant of the role the Scandinavian languages played in thedevelopment of English in England and Scotland. Allow me to illustratewith the word warlock.If, as is posited in many Modern English dictionaries, the word"warlock" comes from a ME "warloghe" from OE "w¾rloga", then theModern form we should expect to see would be something like warlow,or werlow, since the tendency to move from 'gh' to 'w' is strong inEnglish, and from 'gh' to 'ck' unknown. This is a trait it shares withDanish, and to provide an example, the Old Swedish "lagh" (meaning"law") is spelled in Modern Danish "lag" but pronounced "law" and inEnglish, orthography and pronunciation are again in sync, with theform "law." That "gh" in the Middle English form "warloghe" indicatesa uvular fricative, that is a g that is pronounced as if one weregargling (as in Dutch "gulder"). That aspirated "g" is what, inEnglish, is usually exchanged for a "w". Other examples in English:"through", "drought", etc. When one also considers the semantic shift,i.e., from "traitor, oathbreaker" to "sorcerer, conjurer", thisall begins to introduce an element of doubt as to the actual etymology.Now, when I find corroberation for this hypothesis in dictionaries of Old Norse (Cleasby, Vigfusson and Craigie), I must, as a trainedlinguist, seek another more satisfying etymology. Here, then, is analternative etymology for "warlock", one which I find both satisfyingas a linguist and as a magic user.

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