“Learning” and “Path-following”

I’m reading Robert Macfarlane’s wonderful The Old Ways. Early on he connects learning and path-following:

The relationship between thinking and walking is also grained deep into language history, illuminated by perhaps the most wonderful etymology I know. The trail begins with our verb to learn, meaning ‘to acquire knowledge’. Moving backwards in language time, we reach the Old English leornian, lto get knowledge, to be cultivated’. From leornian the path leads further back, into the fricative thickets ofProto Germanic, and to the word liznojan, which has a base sense of ‘to follow or to find a track’ (from the Proto-Indo-European prefix leis-, meaning ‘track’). (To learn’ therefore means at root ~ at route – (to follow a track’. Who knew? Not I, and I am grateful to the etymologist-explorers who uncovered those lost trails connecting ‘learning’ with ‘path-following*.

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