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Random interesting things I found in the English language

Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:13 am
by tungemål
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!

Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:33 am
by tungemål
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)

Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:42 am
by jimmy
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.

Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:07 pm
by DaveAgain
'march' meaning 'frontier', as in 'law of the marches' comes to English from German, via French.

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

Re: Random interesting things I found in the English language

Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:11 am
by Querneus
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.