What's in a Word | All Blogs


Finding a place in the sun

By Debra Dobbins

Without going into great (read pedantic) detail, it seems as if words for our four basic directions have been around since mankind’s early beginnings.

That’s not really surprising, as having a sense of direction likely was vital for ancient hunters and gatherers venturing far from home.

Linguists think the word for “west” came from an ancient utterance for “evening,” based on the direction of the setting sun. Conversely, the word for “east” came from an utterance for “dawn,” based on the sun’s rising each morning.

“North” evolved from the idea of someone sensing what was on the left as he or she faced the rising sun, and “south” was based on an ancient expression for – you guessed it -- “sun.”

Photo special to the Sentinel
 

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