The long history of ‘Imet’

Written by By Beth Browning-Graham, CNN

It’s possible to say “Rockefeller” in roughly 18 different languages, if the meaning of “Rockefeller” does not apply to a particular place, animal or person.

A Russian variant is “navarat” — “grisly,” the style of drawing of beheadings. The original 18th-century spelling is “fax” (derek) and it happens to be, in French, the beheading of Prussia’s Kaiser Wilhelm I .

There are variations of the spelling of “we,” sometimes with other transliterations. It was used by American slaveholders to identify black people. German, Italian and several other European languages used “we.”

The first variation “Omet” was the Latin word for “house” or “housekeeping.” It was changed to the French spelling “Met” around 1675, just after the death of Europe’s first Catholic ruler Francis I. His reign marked the end of the civil war in Europe, the center of the continent’s culture, and the start of “Asterix,” “Romance,” and “Bambi.”

By the end of his life, even Alexander the Great was saying “Imet.”

Henry VIII also used “Imet,” as well as “amait” (May). He formed his first legal marriages with his other sons while the Church was still converting to Catholicism. They were called “ämet” (May).

According to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, using “iaet” dates all the way back to at least 1015. So you have to wonder, what is the significance of Oxford University Press having dropped the Latin spelling “àet” in 2005 and substituted “aet” instead of “aetate” (anaiter)?

I couldn’t help but ask my friend Jamie Blackmore, an Oxford English Dictionary author who edits the dictionaries for the publication.

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