Juncture Loss, Newts, and Oranges.

An eft is a juvenile newt. Before the 15th century, they were known as efts and ewts. The term newt has suffered “juncture loss” in the English language. This can also be said for a (n)ox, a (n)apple, and a (n)uncle!

Henry Lejeune, The Eft, 1862
Henry Lejeune, The Eft, 1862

Juncture loss occurs when the last letter of one word is shifted to the beginning of the next word. In English, this occurs with the letter n, moving to the next word. Over the course of time, an ewt was modified to a newt, while an eft remained exactly the same.

Some (n)oxen in 1947, Romania
Some (n)oxen in 1947, Romania

Perhaps the oldest example  of juncture loss would be an orange. Translated to Spanish, orange becomes naranja. Both words have the same root in Sanskrit: नारङ्ग naranga-s. The word was translated through Persian (نارنگ nārang), and Arabic (نارنج nāranj), when the fruit was brought to Europe. Juncture loss occurred in France resulting in a change from une narange to une orange today.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, The Orange Tree, 1740
Jean-Baptiste Oudry, The Orange Tree, 1740

Following the etymology of orange led me through the history of the orange. I found it very fascinating, but it’s a bit too long to share this week. Next Sunday expect a follow-up to this article with an abridged history of the orange.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *