The English word sun probably began its existence six thousand years before heliocentric theory was proposed, and 4.6 billion years after it was created. Back then, it was spoken by steppe dwellers in far-eastern Europe and sounded something like shuen. As Proto-Indo-European broke apart, this word drifted into Proto-Germanic as sunnon, which later was shortened to sunne in Old English. Afterwards, the stress shifted away from the e, which eventually became silent and led to the modern spelling of sun. The verb to sun, "to put in sunlight to dry" came into being as an excellent example of anthimeria; but that's not nearly the most interesting part of the word: to find that we have to jump into another language: the Arabic word Sunni, which is a sect of Islam. This traces from the earlier word sunna, which meant "year" but had connections to the word sun, since the Arabs could tell the connection between a sun and a year a lot better than old feudalists could. In one theory, this could trace from the Proto-Semitic word sams, or "the sun", which is also the hypothesized origin of Hebrew shamash (also "sun"). This shows that two proto-languages, the farthest languages can be traced, have the sun linguistically common, suggesting a completely hypothetical but often sought-after proto-Afro-Eurasian language, which is still purely conjectures and cannot be proven. But the possibility exists!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd