Yesterday we analyzed the word kindergarten and traced the root of German garten through Old High German garto to Proto-Germanic gardo ("hedge") and ultimately to Proto-Indo-European ghordos (also "hedge"). You'd assume that English garden would take a similar, Germanic, route. Not quite. It first goes back to Anglo-Norman gardin, which kind of went alongside its Old French cognate jardin, to be traced to the Latin term hortus gardinus, or "enclosed garden". Let me stress here that we have not just entered another language family, but gone to the original language in that family. Borrowings from Germanic are irregular in Latin; most words are from Proto-Italic or Greek. However, the gardinus part of hortus gardinus (meaning "enclosed") then goes to that earlier Proto-Germanic word, gardo, which meant "hedge", remember. As if that's not cool enough the "hedge" was the "enclosing" part, the hortus was the "garden" part. Etymologically speaking, hortus gardinus meant "garden garden"! Another interesting connection we can draw from this is how many non-Germanic languages adopted the Germanic word gardo because of the Latin and later French influence: Portuguese jardin, Spanish jardin, Tagalog hardin (intrusion into another language family through Spanish hegemony), Irish gort ("wheat field") and much more in local dialects. Deep breath. Etymology is so fun!
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.