This place matters

This place matters

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Creepy crawlies

One day, I get home from work, and Loki's acting weird...er than usual. He's all agitated and on edge, and this was before we got Puck, so there wasn't a good reason for him to be agitated and on edge.
Ignoring for a moment the weird behavior of my weird cat, I went into the den. There were a few bees in there. I closed the den door, went out to get some bee spray, and when I came home the beepocolypse had occurred. Instead of the few bees that had been there when I left, there were now so many bees in the den that I could hear the buzzing from outside the door. Seems there was a massive nest in the wall, and they'd decided to chew through the drywall and move in with us. The handyman helpfully let us know that he'd seen the bees flying in between the siding and wondered where they were going. Being he was the handyman, I would think it was his job to do more than wonder, but what do I know? I'm just a lady with one million bees in her house.
Well, a few hysterical phone calls, a few cans of spray, a few visits from an exterminator, and a new vacuum cleaner later, the bees were gone and all of us were remarkably unstung. I, however, get the creepy crawlies every time I look at the wall. There are still little dribbles of nectar around the hole that they all came out of. *Shudders*
Okay, so what's cool about the word bee? Glad you asked. Bee, or more accurately, bee related words are ancient linguistic artifacts that help tell us where our linguistic ancestors come from. If you've been reading the blog a while, you know that English is part of a massive family of languages spoken throughout the Americas, Eurasia, and India called the Indo-European family of languages. English, Latin, Greek, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Russian... all of them descendants of the same distant ancestor. That distant linguistic ancestor is called Proto-Indo-European, of which we have no samples, no direct evidence - we only know that the language existed because we know its children exist. Linguists guess that the first speakers of what we now call Proto-Indo-European were probably speaking it up to four thousand years before Christ. Trippy, right?
To guess where the family of languages originated, we have to look at the words that most of the languages have in common. Smarty linguistic types have determined that the words that most of the languages have in common include words that indicate a temperate climate - words for things like snow, summer, beech trees, willow trees, and bees. The English word for bee is not quite descended from the PIE word for bee. A lot of languages have words like be, bi, or bitis, but those all belong to one or two branches of the larger language tree, and those branches don't go back to the trunk of the tree. Our word for mead, however, does come from the PIE word medhu, which survives as a root word for honey or mead in languages as diverse as Sanskrit, German, Russian, and Latvian. 
Because we have all these common words that refer to things related to temperate climates and few common words for things like palm trees and lions and lemurs, most academics think that the first people to speak our language's great-great-great-great-great-etc. grandmother hung out somewhere in Eastern or Central Europe. 
Most of the info for this came from my brain, but I got a lot of really cool stuff from this site too.
This was supposed to be a post about how bees communicate.

2 comments:

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

The handyman helpfully let us know that he'd seen the bees flying in between the siding and wondered where they were going. Being he was the handyman, I would think it was his job to do more than wonder, but what do I know? I'm just a lady with one million bees in her house.

Handyman

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