Random interesting things I found in the English language

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tungemål
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Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby tungemål » Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:13 am

We all use the English language here. Even if I don't actively study English anymore, I still learn new things about English. This thread is for sharing things that I find interesting in English, and for anyone else who wants to contribute interesting perspectives on the language, both native speakers and second language speakers.

We've probably got different perspectives, depending on what our native language is, which might be interesting. For instance, native speakers seem to believe that English spelling is hard (I don't think so) while the grammar is easy (I'm not so sure about that). We'll see!
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby tungemål » Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:33 am

Jack

I like to research the etymology of words. I looked up this word when I found out that Norwegian jekk comes from the English jack. Jack seems to have a multitude of wildly different meanings, so what's up with that?

The word is listed with 14 different meanings, plus a couple of expressions. The most common meanings are maybe:
- A device for lifting heavy objects
- jack socket, jack plug
- and the name Jack.
But there's also "union jack", "lumberjack", and the playing card.

Short paranthesis:
The meaning "device for lifting heavy objects" was imported to Norwegian and "norsified" as jekk, while the "plug" meaning was imported later as jack with an English pronunciation.

But how did the word end up with so many completely different meanings? In fact they are related. From the dictionary:
Late Middle English from Jack, pet form of the given name John. The term was used originally to denote an ordinary man, also a youth (mid 16th century), hence the ‘knave’ in cards and ‘male animal’. The word also denoted various devices saving human labour, as though one had a helper; the general sense ‘labourer’ arose in the early 18th century. Since the mid 16th century a notion of ‘smallness’ has arisen.
(abridged)
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby jimmy » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:42 am

I had already previously thought such things :)
and I am almost sure that there are other but also specifically researchers that deals only this subject.

follow:

Ich (german) , I (english) , Ya (Russian) ,Ez (kurdish) , Ben (turkish) , Ene (Arabic)

all of this have similarity even if the degree of similarity is a bit weak.

this is probably stronger similarity.

mer (Kurdish) , Er (Turkish) , Man (english) , Nan (Chinese) , rajul/zekr (Arabic)

There are many similarities but I do not currently deal or research such things. Nonetheless,I have come across many times.
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby DaveAgain » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:07 pm

'march' meaning 'frontier', as in 'law of the marches' comes to English from German, via French.

https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/marche#%C3%89tymologie
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby Querneus » Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:11 am

DaveAgain wrote:'march' meaning 'frontier', as in 'law of the marches' comes to English from German, via French.

https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/marche#%C3%89tymologie

Oh! So it's a cognate of "mark". That makes a lot of sense. Mark the march on the map. And a "marquis" is someone who takes care of the march marked.
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby tungemål » Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:56 pm

Why English is more groovy than the other germanic languages
...and why it is so easy to trip up on the pronunciation of four syllable words in English

So, English pronunciation is not always easy to predict, but there are after all certain rules that govern pronunciation. However, it is very important to know the stress pattern to get it right, since in English (as in Dutch) a syllable will be pronounced differently according to whether it is stressed or unstressed.

How do you pronounce "hyperbole" for instance? If you don't know I can almost guarantee that you'll get it wrong.

Here are a few other four syllable words that follow a pattern:
- anonymous
- perimeter
- thermometer
- interpolate
- parenthesis
- hyperbole
- interrogate
- philosophy

The pattern is that the stress is on the second and fourth beat, just like in jazz, and that makes English more groovy! While Norwegian and German would stress the first and third syllable, like a rough marching band at a German beer festival.

In addition one also has to know how many syllables the word has. "hyperbole" (which is pronunced /hʌɪˈpəːbəli/) I first thought would have three syllables. "Recipe" for a long time I thought had two and would be pronounced /rɛˈsʌɪp/, but it is of course /ˈrɛsɪpi/.

Anyway, I'm wondering if this four syllable stress pattern is linked to the fact that these words come from Latin or Greek?
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby pinkyslippers » Sat Jan 30, 2021 10:46 am

In the Spanish audiobooks of Harry Potter (the peninsular Spanish not Latin American version), Hermione is consistently pronounced Her-mee-on. I wasn’t sure if that is just how the name is rendered in Spanish or if it was an example of the narrator falling into the pronunciation trap you mention above.
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby IronMike » Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:05 am

And as discussed in a separate thread, the grooviest noun: epitome!
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:15 pm

My layman hypothesis: in writing, epitome and epiphany have the same number of syllables and therefore the stress falls on the same syllable. So, know one, and you know them all. Epilogue? EPI-logue. Still antepenultimate. HyPERbole? Antepenultimate again. TherMOpyle. Again.

From Wikipedia:
In Latin and Ancient Greek, only the three last syllables can be accented. In Latin, a word's stress is dependent on the weight or length of the penultimate syllable; in Greek, the place and type of accent is dependent on the length of the vowel in the ultima.


This is my reflex rule from two semesters of Classical Greek (Autumn 1993/Spring 1994).

I'm sure some logic can be found here:
https://www.foundalis.com/lan/grstress.htm
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Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Postby Agorima » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:36 pm

I cannot say anything about Latinate words, but these following Modern Greek words have the same stress as in English:

ανώνυμος / anónymos : anonymous
περίμετρος / perímetros : perimeter
παρένθεση / parénthesi : parenthesis

This stems from the fact that these words were adopted in the Humanism era, when Modern Greek was already existing, so the stress remained about the same in the last centuries.
Other words like "hyperbole"and "philosophy" have a different stress in Modern Greek, this means that the words were probably adopted earlier.
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