Tricky Words in this month’s OVI
Dacia. This is basically the old name for Romania, developed from the Greek Dakoi, their name for the ancient people living in that part of Europe. As a traditional name it’s hardly surprising it was chosen to denote the national automobile brand of Romania, established in 1966 and sold to French car-makers Renault in 1999. What’s tricky here is the pronunciation.
The original Romanian is /DAČ-ja/ (English sound DATCH-ya), but in Slovak it’s /DAC-ja/ (English sound DATS-ya), and I can imagine English-speakers saying DAS-ya (and Spanish speakers saying DATH-ya). There’s a tendency in English to find out and use original pronunciations of foreign large city names (e.g. Beijing instead of Peking, Mumbai instead of Bombay), but I don’t think this tendency extends to names of car makes.
Slovak clo vs. English “customsˮ. This is an interesting juxtaposition, as in both cases the idea behind these words, i.e. paying for transporting goods across a border, is based on a sense of habit (zvyk). The origin of Slovak clo (also German Zoll) lies in the Greek word télos, meaning “end, aim, purpose or destinationˮ, which could also be a limit, a boundary or a border. Combine this with the idea of the English word “customˮ, which literally means zvyklosť or obyčaj, and it becomes clear how ancient state governments, needing financial resources, saw their borders as eminently suitable places for taking money off travelers and traders, but they also managed to persuade people that the obligation to pay (English “dutyˮ, which also translates clo) was a totally normal custom which everyone simply had to get accustomed to (zvyknúť si).