The Bar is Called Heaven

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Leave: Leaven :: Heave: ___??

Wouldn’t that be incredible?

After adventuring in Webster’s 1934 International, I can report that this is an apt analogy…in the sense that the “:”, the “is to,” stands in for “has no etymological connection whatsoever.” Awwwwww. I wanted one!

But instead, here’s the deal:

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“Leave” and “leave,” from/related to “pleasing,” “permission,” “absence.” More Old Norse-ish.

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“Leaven,” from/related to “that which raises.” More Old French-esque.

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“Heave,” from/related to “seizing” and “handling,” and related to… every word in English, apparently.

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And finally, “heaven,” “akin to” all kinds of things in all kinds of languages but seemingly not from a damn thing. Heaven stands alone, all seven to eleven of it.

I love all this, because what?! A set of six letters ending in a suffixy letter like “n,” looking so patterned, and then the no-“n” version has nothing whatever to do with the -n version! Oh, English. If I was a(n) historical linguist for real, I could probably explain the whole business by saying “Great Vowel Shift!” and then some other things, but as it is, I am content to marvel. And to note with joy that “heave” and “leaven” are actually the most morphemically (meaning-ly) related of the four, according to current usage (“lift”-ish), and then both of those connect, in a more figurative way, to “heaven” (in the “up” sense, not the “expanse of space” sense). Rad, right? Only poor “leave” is left out, and I can permit that.

So…yes. In a way that stretches the definition and usefulness of analogy, “leave : leaven :: heave : heaven”…but then it also has to be true that “heave : heaven :: matzo : mozzarella,” or  “:: skyr : skycake!” I.e:  “no dang relation at all, but so fun to think about.”

Ok, that’s enough from me… Talking Heads, take us on up.


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