Every morning, I wake up to Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner as my alarm. It's the perfect song to get you out of bed because its loud crescendoes imply winged fury sweeping down to bear you away. And that's exactly the purpose, because a valkyrie is a being from Norse myths that determines who goes to Valhalla, their pagan heaven. Now, this etymology is quite literal but nonetheless scintillating. Now properly stylized Valkyrie, the word valkyrie or walkyrie comes from the Old Norse valkyrja, which meant "chooser of those killed in combat". Though the middle stages are a bit obfuscated, this definitely stems from the Old Norse elements valr, meaning "slain", and kjosa, or "to choose". Valr comes from Proto-Germanic walaz, which meant "corpse" and is also the etymon of Valhalla, which itself means "hall of those killed in combat". This in turn can be reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European welh, meaning "injury". Meanwhile, kjosa derives from Proto-Germanic keusa and Proto-Indo-European gews, which both also meant "to choose". However, earlier on gews meant "to taste", so when reconstructed farthest back, valkyrie means "tasting injuries." Yuck.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.