alan deighton's remarks indicate for my money the more likely derivation;
still, we need also to remember, i venture, that the 'primitive biological'
(cf 'cuckoo' in engl. and many elsewheres!) euphonic appeal/catchiness of
'i/a' is conceivably' from an 'early' stage of language evolution onwards
'behind' both this 18c coinage from ?'Zacke' as well as the 'later'
grammaticalised 'i/a' of verb Ablaut and possibly also of akkadian (>
bearing this 'euphonic/symbolic/ono...ic' background in mind, i wonder how
to explain the first repetition of the following loud and jocular chant
which i heard 16-19 yr pupils use a few times in its 'stadtschwaebisch'
form when i was a guest pupil at a stuttgart gymnasium for boys in ...
1961; i don't know how widespread it is in the german language area but
when i've occasionally used it to L1 D-speakers in broadly similar
contexts, it seems to have been recognised; it is:
"zicke-zacke, zicke-zacke, heu, heu, heu!!". i assume basic euphony but is
there also 'Zacke'/ 'Zickzack' here somewhere, OR 'Zicke'(cognate 'Ziege')
with mildly humerous derogatory intent, OR even 'Zack', as the chant seemed
(also) to have a phatically alerting function.
groeten uit/Grue3e aus liverpool, michael rigelsford
--On 10 September 2003 15:24 +0100 "A.R.Deighton" <[log in to unmask]>
> How's this:
> Kluge: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 11.
> Auflage, Berlin 1934:
> Zickzack M. zunächst ein Wort der Belagerungskunst für die
> Annäherungsgräben: Nehring 1710 "sicsac, ein neu Wort, so erst bey der
> Belagerung Landaus (seit 1703) bekandt gemacht worden" .... Das
> Verhältnis von i zu a geht nicht auf den idg. Ablaut zurück, wenn Z.
> auch zu Zacken nach Vorbildern wie singe - sang (- gesungen) gebildet
> sein mag. Vgl. Kribskrabs, Krimskrams, Mischmasch, Schnickschnack,
> Tingeltangel, Wirrwarr.
> Couldn't the defences of 17th century towns be described as a series of
> "Zacken"? Landau's defences were apparently built by the French in
> 1688, which may explain the existence of the word "zigzag" in French.
> I can't see that the word should offend Rastafarians, but what about
> Alan Deighton
> Department of German
> University of Hull
> On Wed, 10 Sep 2003 12:47:52 +0100 "Niven,
> William" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Dear Colleagues:
>> I have just received this email from Nottingham City Council. Can anyone
>> Subject: Etymological query relating to zickzack
>> The City council is on the point of launching a major campaign on
>> harassment and discrimination for our 14,000 employees. The principle
>> campaign vehicle is a fold-up leaflet that opens out like a zig-zag and
>> is therefore called 'the Zig-zag'. The whole campaign is to be called
>> the zig-zag campaign.
>> At the last minute someone has suggested that the term zig-zag may not be
>> appropriate because it may be derived from the the name of the tower of
>> Babel, which was a stepped pyramid, or ziggurat. The suggestion is that
>> if this is the case the campaign may be offensive to Rastafarians as any
>> mention of Babylon would be very negative for them.
>> The Oxford Dictionary of English etymology says that the term zig-zag
>> came into English via French from German in the c18th. It describes the
>> German work zickzack as a 'symobolic formation', which I have taken to
>> mean something to an onomatopaeia. But a symbolic formation could
>> possibly be an academic coinage deriving from the Akkadian word
>> ziggurat, could it?
>> I am not a German speaker and I have no way of getting further to the
>> heart of this arcane issue. Can anyone help with this? I am sorry but we
>> have print dealines waiting for an answer to this, so if you can shed any
>> light on the point it would need to be today if possible.
>> Thank you,
>> Industrial Relations Officer
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