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Etymology of Walrus

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  • Andy Horton
    Hello, The etymology of Walrus is one to seperate the horsemen from proper scientists: [probably a. Du. walrus (walros). Compare (i) LG. walross, G. walross
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2009
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      Hello,

      The etymology of Walrus is one to seperate the horsemen from proper
      scientists:

      [probably a. Du. walrus (walros). Compare (i) LG. walross, G. walross
      (earlier also walruss, walrusch), Sw. hvalross, valross (valruss), Da.
      hvalros (earlier also hvalrusk), walrus; (ii) OE. horschwæl, early mod.G.
      rosswal, russwal, Norw. russhval, walrus, ? OFr. rohal, rohart, rochal
      (whence med.L. rohanlum, -allum) walrus-ivory; see RUEL.
      The forms under (i) appear to be later than those under (ii) from which
      they perh. arose (? in Du.) by metathesis on some analogy such as that of
      Du. walvisch whale.

      The interpretation of formation (ii) as 'horse-whale' (zoologically
      improbable) appears to be only one of the various popular etymologies that
      have influenced the forms of the word. Ultimately a confusion, either within
      or outside the Scandinavian languages, has perhaps taken place between ON.
      hrosshvalr a kind of whale, and rosmhvalr walrus. The latter is related
      obscurely to ON. rosmall, Norw. rosmaal, rosmaar, Da. rosmær, -er, -ar
      walrus, whence the scientific specific name rosmarus. See ROSMARINE2. Some
      scholars have connected rosm- with ON., Icel. rostungr walrus, and assumed
      relationship of both with ON. rau{edh}r RED. (Cf. RORQUAL and OHG. ros(a)mo
      redness.) This is zoologically possible, but it seems more likely that rosm-
      is a corruption of some non-Teut. word: cf. MORSE.]

      OED

      Cheers


      Andy Horton.
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