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Showing posts from May, 2015

Words of the Month: giggling, jigg(l)ing gigolos

The starting-point for this investigation is on the one hand the Anglo-Norman gigeler , attested only in one text, William of Waddington’s Manuel des péchez , a didactic and moralising treatise from the last quarter of the fourteenth century. The verb gigeler , “to frolic”, is generally treated in the dictionaries as a derivative of the relatively well-attested giguer , itself apparently based on gigue , “a stringed musical instrument, smaller than a viol”, ultimately from Old High German gîga (modern German Geige ; cf. FEW gîga , 16,35b). There is some (literary) evidence that the instrument came to France from Germany. Giguer itself, perhaps surprisingly, does not appear to be attested in Anglo-Norman, but the musical instrument gigue and gigur (the player thereof) both are; both, too, are borrowed into medieval English (MED ğige n.2 ; ğigŏur n. ). (OED’s gigue , the musical composition, is not attested until 1685 and as the pronunciation reveals, is a later French borrowing.)