I was reading the other day that it was believed that using the Proto-Indo-European word for bears (which evolved into the Latin ‘ursus’ and the Greek ‘arktos’) would summon one to wreck your shit, so the Germanic people speaking Old English would use ‘bruin’ or ‘brown one’ as a euphemism. The original word is now completely lost because of it.
this is 100% true story.
in slavic languages, it was considered taboo to say bear as well, so lot’s of them replaced it with a variation of “медведь” : someone who eats honey.
Ok but magic words are my fave thing about language ever, also unknowable words and Name magic (knowing someone’s name gives you power over them) and also Song as a way of keeping people alive or willing the dead back to life but literally not figuratively ( see lectures on Singing the Rug and also the hero obsession with fame)