Monday, January 16, 2012



I'd like to recommend to linguists and students of Russian a simple and fun resource 
It does what is says – poisk slov – word search. It looks like it was originally developed for lovers of crossword puzzles and Scrabble. Yes, there is a Scrabble in Russian! Same grid, same rules, but the letters are Cyrillic. Pioskslov links to definitions from major Russian dictionaries.  

Where linguists, professional and amateurs, may find it useful is in its omitted letters function. Type * sign or ? question mark instead of a sequence of letters and get a selection of words with the same sequence.

Each word found links to definitions in major Russian dictionaries.

What prompted me to go to poiskslov was an interesting – as they always are – discussion on Languagehat about the word книгочей – lover of books, bookworm. 

Vasmer's etymological dicitonary lists it as of Turkic origin, while for most Russians today it sounds perfectly home-grown: kniga (book) plus chei, a variation on чтей - чтец - читатель (big reader). 

Vasmer's analysis is very convincing, especially considering the rarity of the -chei ending in Russian and the comparison with казначей - kaznachei, practically identical to Turkic kaznacy. 

But there is also an odd one out – ручей – stream, brook, creek.  The first thing that comes to mind is рука - ручки - рученьки. Аnd the word рукав - sleeve has an additional meaning of branch, tributary, channel. Compare French la Manche – sleeve and the Channel. But again, Vasmer gives a completely different etymological background...

Picture: 'The Bookworm', Carl Spitzweg, c.1850, o/c, 49.5 × 26.8 cm (19.5 × 10.6 in), Museum Georg Shäfer, from here.


Kenny Cargill said...

The website now no longer exists.

Alexander Anichkin said...

I just tried it, it still works. Try again later.

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