Where do words come from?

This is a discussion my students and I have fairly often. Who names things? And how does everyone know what they are called?

For example, who decided that a table would be called a table? Why did we listen to them? And how do we ALL know it is a table? And who named the colour brown? Do we all think of the same colour when we think of brown? If we learn a word, do we learn the word or the world around us?

In Swedish a window is a fönster, and in Afrikaans it is a venster. In Engish it is a window and in Norwegian it is vindu. How did that happen?

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