Oh, hi there!
The other day, I saw a tweet which pointed out the resemblances between the words for night and eight in various European languages. They’re obviously only one letter apart in English, and there’s a similar… similarity between the words in other languages:
Irish: ocht/anocht (tonight: oíche is night)
Basically, not a million miles away from simply adding N to the word for eight. What could this mean. What’s the link? Could it be because eight hours is the optimal length of a good night’s sleep? That’s been a popular theory, but it doesn’t hold up when you think about it. It’s a pretty recent idea, relevant to modern society, but hundreds of years ago the length of sleep would have been much more seasonal.
But it couldn’t just be coincidence, could it?
Let’s look at where the words come from. Most European words for eight are derived from the Proto-Indo-European *okto, and don’t differ greatly from that original source.
Night and its counterparts comes from the Proto-Indo-European *nekwt.
So, two different origins then, which means that it’s a coincidence after all.
But, not really an amazing one though. The two roots aren’t that different, so it’s only logical that they’d develop into similar words. It’s neat and interesting that the words are so similar, but there’s no great meaning behind it (and some of them are a bit of a stretch!)
Still, it was an interesting thought. Now good night!