Friday, September 7, 2012

Hight, heiti, háte, heisse

 "'What are your names?'
Rolf answered: 'Rolf hight I.'"
-Allen French, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow.

Rolf is a fictional young man living in 11th century Iceland. I have long loved this book, and today I came upon the word "hight" while researching related topics. Though its meaning was obvious, it always intrigued me:

"Hight" is an English verb meaning "to call/name," and "to be called/named." It is an archaic term, meaning it is no longer in general use, but people understand it when found in written text.
"Hight" in Wiktionary,
"Archaic" in Wiktionary

This word, not surprisingly, sounds remarkably similar to these phrases meaning "my name is":

ég heiti...
(yerch* hey-te) *ch as in Loch.

Old English:
íċ háte...
(eech ha*-te) *long a, as in "father."

German: Ich heisse...
(eesh/eek high-se)

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