Stranger in a Strange Tongue


Germanic-speakers developed the habit in the middle Ages of calling their language variants of the word þeodisk meaning "What People Speak." (Whence the words Diets, Duits, Dutch, Deutsch, Tysk, Taytsh in various Germanic languages. If the cognate had survived into modern English, it would have been "theedish" or "theech")

By contrast, the word þeodisk was borrowed into Proto-Slavic as *tiudžǐ "foreign, strange, unintelligible." (c.f. Russian чужой, Czech cizí, OCS tuždǐ.) It is the word used in Saint Cyril's prologue to the Slavonic gospels to describe the unintelligible languages of Hebrew and Greek, as opposed to the clear language of the Slavonic translation.

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