The Ideophonic Glede

This morning I picked up The Ring of Words again, as I mark the pages and stop reading whenever I get an idea for something that should go on here. I had stopped at the word ‘gleed,’ which is an obsolete term for an ember or coal. ‘Gleed’ is another word, now sadly ignored as it has passed out of use, which has the gl- segment which marks various words to do with sight or light: glow, glimmer, glitter, gleam, glint  – there are plenty more. These sorts of words are typically known as ideophones. While I was researching around the web for a way to justify my folk etymology for these words – which I had hypothesized had evolved from the older word ‘gleed’ (which isn’t true – *gl words like this go back at least to ON, and probably back to PIE) – I came across a fairly good blog on ideophones.  Since that blog contains more information than my ramblings about the possibility of cultural imitation or derivation as the evolutionary source for ideophones could possible hold, I’m just going to refer you there. Definitely worth at least a cursory look.

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