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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 29 Jul 2019, 20:06

LadyinRetirement wrote:
I can't copy a link over to the dictionary.  It may not be an exact translation but "treading on (someone's) toes may have a similar meaning to "potten breken" even if not exactly the same.  "Potten breken" has an appealing sound to it.  I was going to use another English idiom "has a nice ring to it" which means to have an appealing sound.  "Ring" here being the ring tone of a bell rather than a piece of finger jewellery.

Lady,

as our Spanish translator found out, English is sometimes a difficult language to translate and so is Dutch, especially while you have a difference in "idioms" between Dutch from the Netherlands and Belgian Dutch.
And now I remember that we here on the board had somewhere a discusion with nordmann, who said about a certain expression that it was not an "idiom" and looking to the Dutch and English list of expressions, there seems to be several different ones. The best I found:
https://www.smart-words.org/quotes-sayings/aphorism-proverb-idiom-saying-pun.html
I would tip for "adages" for the following expressions...nordmann?
"geen potten breken" (not breaking pots)
and 
"op zere tenen trappen" (treading on sensitive toes)

But the meaning of "potten breken"?...it is I think rather denigrating and I see just now that the term is used mostly in sport and all that but also in politics...for instance: That guy is not a high flyer, I think that he "niet veel potten zal breken"...will not score that high...he will not do that much wrong, while he is too stupid for it...or: "hij zal geen hoge ogen gooien" (he will not make the most of it)

Kind regards from Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyFri 09 Aug 2019, 19:20

Thinking about attempts to try and make languages develop by means of intervention (which I am not a fan of personally), I came across this article which to me seems completely daft.  It's about wanting to make language more gender-neutral.  I'll link it (sorry Priscilla) because I don't want to run foul of breach of copyright https://www.dictionary.com/e/letter-x-gender-neutral-language/ but one example given is of using "foix" for "folks" because it is deemed to be more inclusive of LBGT and intersex people.  The idea didn't appeal to me but then I don't like the use of "actor" as a standard term for both males and females in the acting profession but when I discussed that with someone else in real life rather than cyberspace he said he thought "actress" was belittling of women.  Where does it all end - do we say that using the word "mare" is demeaning to female horses?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Deleted because my above post was duplicated.   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyFri 09 Aug 2019, 19:20

Deleted.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyFri 09 Aug 2019, 19:56

LadyinRetirement wrote:
Thinking about attempts to try and make languages develop by means of intervention (which I am not a fan of personally), I came across this article which to me seems completely daft.  It's about wanting to make language more gender-neutral.  I'll link it (sorry Priscilla) because I don't want to run foul of breach of copyright https://www.dictionary.com/e/letter-x-gender-neutral-language/ but one example given is of using "foix" for "folks" because it is deemed to be more inclusive of LBGT and intersex people.  The idea didn't appeal to me but then I don't like the use of "actor" as a standard term for both males and females in the acting profession but when I discussed that with someone else in real life rather than cyberspace he said he thought "actress" was belittling of women.  Where does it all end - do we say that using the word "mare" is demeaning to female horses?

Lady,

yes where does it end...at the end...I have already some difficulties with the word "nurse". For some reason, or perhaps because in the time most nurses were women: infermières (verpleegsters, Pflegerinnen) and if I see in English the word nurse I think at a lady, instead of a male: infermier (verpleger, Pfleger). (perhaps I think always at pretty ladies Embarassed ). Not knowing that it in English gender neutral, one has to wait till in the narrative they use the word "she". Not that I don't say nowadays: "the partner", while I intentionally won't discriminate the lesbian and homo partners, as I have explained in the "childhood thread" how discrimination and not able to coop with the homosexuality, can lead to suicide. But that wouldn't say in my humble opinion that they can't behave as most "partners" and not as "special" ones, who want to be seen as "other" than other human beings.

Perhaps instead of a policy from above, wouldn't it be better to let  the culture and behaviour let do its work in an evolution to a more gender neutral society, as I already see with the grandchildren, male and female...quite otherwise than in "our" time of the boys only schools and of course for my sister, the nunschools, only ladies please...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 11 Aug 2019, 02:44

I don't understand the objection to folks - it seems as inclusive as 'people' for example. A little old-fashioned perhaps. I found that whole article bemusing. What is wrong with Ms? I sometimes use it and I am married. 

But language is always changing: I remember when there was quite a lot of discussion about what to call people living outside marriage before 'partner' was settled upon. I don't think of partner as being for homosexual couples only, more for anyone not married. After all men married to men refer to their others as 'husbands' and likewise women married to women call each other 'wife'. 

On another part of language change, Maori have adapted a lot of English words or incorporated modern ideas into their language: thus aeroplane is waka rererangi (canoe in the sky) and restaurants are wharekai (whare is house and kai is food). (And some words have just been transliterated: apora is apple, pukapuka is book, hokomaha is supermarket, Wikitoria is Victoria, James is Hemi, William is Wiremu, etc. George became Hori but for some reason that became a derogatory name for Maori so is not used at all now. I would have thought John was a more common name in those days, but Hone is still used by Maori.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyTue 13 Aug 2019, 10:51

Fair number of similar words to be found in modern Welsh, Caro. Mostly for words which have come into use in recent times. Most of the "gender neutral" etc language I can accept.


However
Not - absolutely NOT "herstory" dustbunny .

A product of ignorance and dogma. "Because it has 'his' it's male dominated". No. It's French, and "his" has absolutely no implication of "masculinity" Indeed the original word is feminine.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyTue 13 Aug 2019, 11:49

Its etymological journey however does unfortunately contain a rather sexist manifestation at a crucial formative stage. Starting off in Proto-Indo-European as the very neutral "-weyd" (to see) it ended up in Proto-Hellenic and Boeotian as the equally unisexually benign "wistor" (seer, wise person). However once into classical Greek, and that language's insistence on sex being reflected in word endings, "istor" unfortunately did indeed end up meaning "wise man" and then "a man who knows law" or "a judge". The Greeks did somehow make up for this however when they developed the verb "ἱστορέω - (h)istorio" from that root, meaning "to learn from research" and which could be done by a man or a woman, and it is this that then made it into Latin as "historia", and of feminine gender to boot.

Personally I reckon both men and women have by now had a fair whack at owning the word in a gender sense, however it's spelt. I'll accept its substitution with "herstory" when its users also present themselves in pharmacies asking for anti-hertamines to combat the allergy they picked up while travelling in herpanic climes. It's all a little hertrionic, isn't it?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyWed 14 Aug 2019, 08:56

I often have to look up the meanings of abbreviations pertinent to the internet age.  "TL;DR" I have recently found out means "too long, didn't read" and I must admit I thought things had come to a pretty pass when people can't be bothered to read something.  Before 2012 my use of the internet was confined to work and going to cybercafes (there don't seem to be any of the latter in my hometown even though it is the county town though one can reserve a period of time to use a computer at the public library).  It's only since I've had the internet in my own home I have come across such expressions as "sock puppet account" (an false internet account) or "troll" (as someone who teases another person on the internet) or "shill" - someone who uses a false internet account sometimes for pay.  Mind you, I've found that sometimes if one comments on forums (fora?) - though not on Res Historia - if one gives an opinion differing from someone else the other person will call one a "troll" or a "shill".
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyFri 23 Aug 2019, 22:02

Yesterday I tried to translate a, in my opinion, Dutch expression into English:

"ter mijner ontlasting"
but looking in the dictionary I found only:
"ontlasting": defecation, faeces, excrement, stools
Even on the mighty internet with Google English only four entries for the expression and in Google Dutch some eight
and it was used in writing of the first halve of the 19th century. Perhaps it is due to Google always with it first entries focussed on the English language...?

And I swear that I learned it in the Fifties in a Dutch language Belgian "College"
And yes in that few entries on Google it is used in the sense that I learned it
as in "exonerate": taking away the burden, the onus...(de last: the load)

I wonder if Dirk still understand this expression?

We would in the Dutch dialects rather say: "in mijn voordeel" (in my advantage) (there we use a Germanic word and the English a French/Latin word)

All that to say that in a mere 60 years a lot of words and expressions just "disappeared" in the Dutch language.

PS. And as I didn't find the Dutch word, I couldn't find an English word...and suddenly I came with my French to the expression: être exonéré d'une tâche (being exempt of a task) hence the French: exonération and the English: exoneration

Kind regards, Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 14:10

I've just starting looking at Einhard's writing about Charlemagne.  The online translation I have found (on Fordham University website) by Samuel Epes Turner and published in 1880 contains a meaning of the word "lent" I don't understand. 
 
"SINCE I have taken upon myself to narrate the public and private life, and no small part of the deeds, of my lord and foster-father, the most lent and most justly renowned King Charles...." (the emboldening is mine).  This doesn't seem to be the past participle of to lend or the 40 days and nights before Easter and googling hasn't helped.  Does anyone know the meaning (archaic?) of lent in this sense?  Having read further, the translation refers to Charlemagne's brother as his "broth" so "lent" could be a fault in typesetting.  I'm sure the original Latin version must be available somewhere.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 14:51

Einhard was writing in "conversatio", a style that emulated similar biographical tracts from ancient times (he was actually impersonating Suetonius). It's all a little convoluted and something of a literary conceit, in that the impersonation means the text is written in Latin and then later translated for non-academic publication into contemporary tongue, often under the supervision of the author or even by the author himself. What you are reading is the English translation by a guy called Turner.

The text Turner was faced with was "Vitam et conversationem et ex parte non modica res gestas domini et nutritoris mei Karoli, excellentissimi et merito famosissimi regis ...", in which Einhard used the classical Latin expression "excellentissimo" before it later came to mean just "very good" and was originally used only about people, and only to mean "of/from lofty thought and/or deed". Turner therefore obviously decided against using "excellent" too and instead opted to use a rather older term that had come into English from Old French and which meant "austere/lofty", the advantage being that it would preserve Einhard's usage of an archaic expression, would steer the reader away from just thinking that the narrator is simply calling Charlemagne "a swell guy", and was even a word that itself could be traced etymologically back to "excellentissimo" as Suetonius would have understood it.

Clever Turner, but all a little over-clever in my opinion on the part of both him and Einhard in that all they ended up achieving between them was use of a word that would lead to more confusion than clarity. However you can take it to mean "excellent - but in a lofty, highbrow and principled way".
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 20:18

Thank you for the help with the meaning of the word, nordmann.  I've been meaning to read up about Charlemagne for about a year (starting when I was wondering about the French/German language divide in Lorraine).  I wasn't sure where to start but I found a video given by a Professor Rosamond McKitterick where she recommended the capileries of Charlemagne and Einhard's work as possible sources for finding out about Charlemagne.  I haven't (so far) through my online searches found a more modern translation that Turner (not an online one at least - there was a more modern  on "Abe Books" and such sites but not internet documents) and I didn't keep up my O level Latin so doubt I could plough through the original.  It's true that unless someone was in the know about Turner basing his style of translation on Einhard using the style of writing of Suetonius it can come across confusing.  Still, I don't think the campaign for plain English had been started in Turner's time.  I've found out that there is an audible version of the Turner text on Libre Vox which is free to listen to so I might use that.  Professor McKitterick mentioned that Einhard of course was very much in the pro-Charlemagne camp as they knew each other well - though she probably expressed the matter more eloquently than I.  "Lent" in that sense does seem a bit of a pompous word to use.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 20:48

To be fair to Turner, he was writing in the 1880s, a thousand years after the Latin original and probably a little conscious of the fact that up to then it had only ever been translated into German and French (both of which versions also very likely used archaic terms to emulate the style of the source). Though I still wouldn't forgive him his use of "lent" when other better alternatives existed. It was technically correct, but I think something of "showing off" to his own academic contemporaries. But then, he was translating someone who had also written somewhat pretentiously - Einhard could have just written a normal biography in the Latin of his day. He didn't need to go all Suetonius either ...
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 23:54

nordmann wrote:
Einhard was writing in "conversatio", a style that emulated similar biographical tracts from ancient times (he was actually impersonating Suetonius). It's all a little convoluted and something of a literary conceit, in that the impersonation means the text is written in Latin and then later translated for non-academic publication into contemporary tongue, often under the supervision of the author or even by the author himself. What you are reading is the English translation by a guy called Turner.

The text Turner was faced with was "Vitam et conversationem et ex parte non modica res gestas domini et nutritoris mei Karoli, excellentissimi et merito famosissimi regis ...", in which Einhard used the classical Latin expression "excellentissimo" before it later came to mean just "very good" and was originally used only about people, and only to mean "of/from lofty thought and/or deed". Turner therefore obviously decided against using "excellent" too and instead opted to use a rather older term that had come into English from Old French and which meant "austere/lofty", the advantage being that it would preserve Einhard's usage of an archaic expression, would steer the reader away from just thinking that the narrator is simply calling Charlemagne "a swell guy", and was even a word that itself could be traced etymologically back to "excellentissimo" as Suetonius would have understood it.

Clever Turner, but all a little over-clever in my opinion on the part of both him and Einhard in that all they ended up achieving between them was use of a word that would lead to more confusion than clarity. However you can take it to mean "excellent - but in a lofty, highbrow and principled way".
 
nordmann,

I had already difficulties with "lofty" seemingly in Dutch: "verheven"
https://context.reverso.net/vertaling/engels-nederlands/lofty
And then as I saw perhaps ten meanings of "verheven", for my sense it was more about "doorluchtig" in this context:
https://www.vertalen.nu/vertaal/nl/en/doorluchtig
"august, illustrious"?

"and instead opted to use a rather older term that had come into English from Old French and which meant "austere/lofty", the advantage being that it would preserve Einhard's usage of an archaic expression, would steer the reader away from just thinking that the narrator is simply calling Charlemagne "a swell guy""


Do you mean: "lent" from Old French austère? I found only as LiR: lent in the connotation of "lent"
https://www.etymonline.com/word/lent
I sought also at the Old French...did you found something there?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 01 Sep 2019, 23:54

edited


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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 06:18

According to the OED it appeared in Old French as "cellente", "lente" or "lent", this from the Vulgate Latin "cellenti" (from the Latin "excellenti(missimus)" - the "missimus" being a superlative dropped in vernacular speech).

In Italy the surname "Cellenti" still survives and is translated to correspond with the English "Goodfellow" or "Goodman".

The use of "lent" as "austere" seems to have come from associating the period of Lent (derived from similar words in Germanic languages meaning "longer days" or "Spring") with the austerity involved in observing it. However this would be a very bad translation of Einhard's original "excellentissimi", not least because its use in this manner was very limited and very late in English. Hence the confusion Turner risked - he opted for one obscure use that could easily have been confused for another obscure use, when in fact he had several more popular English words that would have suited much better, even ones with the archaic quality he had tried to preserve.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 07:57

Given that this is a thread about the development of language it occurred to me that LiR's example is actually quite pertinent and illustrates a common theme in semantics but with a quite untypical word within that theme - the prevalence of homonyms which tend to obfuscate meaning when they occur (especially as loan words enter one language from another) and often lead to whole new usage of a sound as the original confusion they cause creates a standard that everyone now agrees makes semantic sense, even if that sense is quite different from what was originally meant at all.

Apart from the semantic confusion between "austere" and "good man" associated with use of the word "lent" (both of which were not very popular expressions at all in English anyway as far as I can see), the development of the homonym from two distinct sources in other languages also reveals another huge factor in how languages develop and words acquire new meaning. Both sources in this case also contained now obsolete meanings which contributed to, but are distinct from, modern usage.

If the "austere" sense in Old French did indeed arise from an association with the religious period Lent (as the OED also suggests, Paul), then this shows a typical semantic shift in operation as languages develop over time. A term originally intended only to indicate lengthening of days was subsumed into a religious term of reference which then completely monopolised its use thereafter. And then, as this became the accepted usage with all that Lent and its observance now inferred it was a logical (if obscure) jump semantically to employ the term as an adjective for one major aspect to that usage - the austerity it demanded on the part of the individual.

However the other side of the homonym and its source are even more fascinating. What had started in Latin as a euphemism for an aspect to a person's character derived from words originally meaning "from a prominence" (often with a superlative tacked on as it was most frequently used when praising an individual, which in Latin involved quite a lot of such superlative suffixes) entered various European languages as the much less precise "very good", though with its use implying "better than your average very good" - a little like "very good - with knobs on". Once losing its precision it could then be applied to anything, which might lead to many interesting misunderstandings should a classical Latin speaker arrive in our modern world and hear someone describe the meal they'd just eaten as "excellent". The idea that one's dinner could be "high minded" would have at least sparked a debate about animism in the Aurelius household at any rate.

Most words that underwent dramatic semantic shift as they were introduced into developing languages were down to being homonyms or near-homonyms, confused with terms already in use. It is not so common to see a word retain much of its structure, avoid confusion with a vernacular comparison, and still undergo such shift. And it is even more uncommon to see one that originated in Latin - what distinguished words with Latin or Greek roots in most European languages is that they were introduced because of their specifity, were employed in a Lingua Franca on that basis for many centuries, and survived more or less intact semantically as a result.

Samuel Epes Turner doesn't know what he's started here ....


Last edited by nordmann on Mon 02 Sep 2019, 11:08; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : splellingg)
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 10:36

As mentioned previously I never finished the part-time French degree I started (years ago) but I remember a professor saying that sometimes in Old French texts scribes had been known to make mistakes in transcribing (medieval equivalent of a 'typo' and no spellcheck facility available in days of yore).  Later on in the version of Einhard's text I was looking at I came across 

"His first undertaking in a military way was the Aquitanian War, begun by his father but not brought to a close; and because he thought that it could be readily carried through, he took it up while his brother was yet alive, calling upon him to render aid.  The campaign once opened, he conducted it with the greatest vigor, notwithstanding his broth withheld the assistance that he had promised..." (emboldening is mine).

The "broth" for "brother" made me wonder if the "lent" had been the 19th century equivalent of a "typo" that had somehow bypassed the proofreader ore even been entered when the document was prepared for Fordham University website.  Or was it like the modern vernacular "bro" or "buddy" (I think "buddy" was originally a slang word for "brother") But "lent' turns out to be correct (thanks nordmann again for the info).  I might be able to deduce if "broth" is a version of "brother" by finding the Latin text on archive.org.

2nd edit: old French 'texts' not 'tests'.


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Mon 02 Sep 2019, 12:05; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Edited because the quote originally did not show up against the brown background.)
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 11:08

Since that's from an edition of Turner's 1880 translation I'd put that one down to a typo. If you're reading it from an online source then I imagine that's definitely what it is and all ancient scribes can be deemed innocent. These days transcription to online display requires no one as educated as a scribe, and in fact probably now involves not much by way of a human at all.

Which is not to say that scribal errors in antiquity never led to a lot of ancient face-palming, and probably not a few theological dilemmas, in their time. There are a lot of reasons given for such mistakes - homeoteleuton (taking a break and then resuming from the wrong word), homeoarchy (accidentally skipping a bit because two lines start with the same words), haplography (accidentally shortening a word or term because "it just looks wrong to the eye" as one is writing it), dittography (accidentally repeating a word or phrase within one sentence - a great way of introducing a crucial double negative reversal of what had been a simple negative statement), contamination (moving a word or phrase from one area into another where it changes the meaning or removes it completely), and metathesis (reversing letter order and making a new word as a result).

And then there are really serious ones in which the scribe makes a mess of things when he/she attempts to alter what he/she doesn't understand or might disagree with - unwitting (when the scribe doesn't really appreciate the seriousness of the change) and, by far the more frequent, deliberate (when he/she knows full well what they're up to).

The latter is mainly down to what scripture and ancient text scholars call "trivialisation". This was very common - the scribe reckoned the original statement was too high falutin' and tried to simplify it for the reader. Aware of this, study of ancient manuscripts is therefore governed by two directly contradictory doctrines. The first "difficilior lectio potior" (the more difficult the text the more likely it is to be the original author's work) is especially popular in study of ancient philosophy, whereas "brevior lectio potior" (the shorter and easier the language the less likely it is that it has been through several scribes' editorial wringers) applies to most ancient histories (such as Caesar's account of his Gallic campaign). One criticism of religious scripture study is that it tends to switch between the two doctrines all the time, depending on the whether the complexity or brevity of what's in front of them suits the scholars' theological view or not.
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 12:34

Yes, it could be an error if a scanner was used to input the text (rather than have it typed) into the university website.  Once when I was attempting to speed up the time it was taking me to do some Spanish homework (it was reading and understanding a Spanish text and preparing for oral translation and discussion in class) I put some of it into one of the Free online Spanish to English translating tools and it came up with gobbledegook.  It was quicker to do it the old-fashioned way and look the words up in the dictionary in the end.

I know of Suetonius (not in detail) but not much about his style of writing.  As for 'trivialisation' - I've been guilty of altering things myself in my typing work.  I was once sent a tape of someone's file notes which included slang terms such as "gonna" and as per my training* I converted it to "going to" and so forth.  I was then told to leave the slang terms as they were.  I was also once told (where I was working actually in an office and not remotely) I should not have changed "the contents of which has been perused" to "the contents of which have been perused".  Fair enough, I'd leave what he said as he said it but of course if anybody higher up the pecking order pointed out the fault it would get blamed on "the secretary".  If there was any ambiguity and I wasn't sure if the expression was correct I'd usually ask a question (though I might tell a white lie, naughty me, and say that the tape was difficult to hear at that point rather than that I didn't understand what he/she meant).

* When I was learning secretarial skills I was given a rule of thumb of typing speech in the formal way unless one was told otherwise (though obviously if one is typing something like a recording of a conference that doesn't apply) and to make complements agree with subjects (e.g. plural subject should have plural complement and plural form of the verb).  With copy typing I was told to leave as is unless one knew the original to be wrong (a very simple example - a firm might be registered as Bloggs & Son's so even if the "Sons" strictly speaking shouldn't have been in the possessive case if it was the official name of the firm it should be left "as is").

I'd like to have studied Old French (medieval French) in more depth - I barely scratched the surface.  I obviously couldn't look at an extract from Yvain or Aucassin et Nicolette or any similar works now and read the original text.

I didn't know how complicated the "scribal errors of antiquity" were, nordmann.  Well, one can learn something new everyday on Res Hist.


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Mon 02 Sep 2019, 12:43; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Edited because I had mentioned Suetonius as the source for a historical novel but the source was actually Procopius.)
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 13:44

These days it's a combination of spell checking software with character recognition software that leads to the worst errors (and often the funniest).

Scribal errors only sound complicated because they've given them all Latin names. Actually we're all guilty of all of them, and not just when it comes to visually received candidates for transcription - one finds it certainly when people try to interpret song lyrics from uncertain pronunciations and indistinct elocution on the part of the singer ...

Courtesy of the New Musical Express here is a Top 40 of more modern examples of "unwitting trivialisation" -



1. “Money for nothin’ and chips for free”. Correct lyric: “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free” from Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’.

2. “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you”. Correct lyric: “Every time you go away take a piece of me with you” from Paul Young’s ‘Every Time You Go Away’.

3. “Sue Lawley”. Correct lyric: “So lonely” from The Police’s ‘So Lonely’.

4. “We built this city on sausage rolls”. Correct lyric: “We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll” from Starship’s ‘We Built This City’.

5. “Saving his life from this warm sausage tea”. Correct lyric: “Spare him his life from this monstrosity” from Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

6. “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”. Correct lyric: “See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen” from ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

7. “Excuse me while I kiss this guy”. Correct lyric: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” from Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’.

8. “Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tangerine”. Correct lyric: “Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine” from ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

9. “Sweet dreams are made of cheese”. Correct lyric: “Sweet dreams are made of these” from The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (are made of this)’.

10. “Calling Jamaica”. Correct lyric: “Call me when you try to wake her” from REM’s ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’.

11. “Or should I just keep chasing penguins”. Correct lyric: “Or should I just keep chasing pavements” from Adele’s ‘Chasing Pavements’.

12. “All the lonely Starbucks lovers”. Correct lyric: “Got a long list of ex-lovers” from Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’.

13. “I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone”. Correct lyric: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone” from Johnny Nash’s ‘I can see clearly now’.

14. “Gimme Gimme Gimme a man after midnight, take me to the doctors at the break of the day”. Correct lyric: “Take me through the darkness to the break of the day” from ABBA’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’.

15. “Poppadom Peach”. Correct lyric: “Papa don’t preach” from Madonna’s ‘Papa don’t preach’.

16. “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not”. Correct lyric: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not” from Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.

17. “I’m farting carrots”. Correct lyric: “I’m 14 carat” from Selena Gomez’s ‘Good for you’.

18. “Then I saw her face, now I’m gonna leave her” Correct lyric: “Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer” from The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’.

19. “I want to hold your ham”. Correct lyric: “I want to hold your hand” from The Beatles’ ‘I want to hold your hand’.

20. “Kicking your cat all over the place”. Correct lyric: “Kicking your can all over the place” from Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.

21. “Blue seal in the sky with diamonds”. Correct lyric: “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” from The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.

22. “Ohh, dyslexics on fire”. Correct lyric: “Ohh, this sex is on fire” from Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’.

23. “Here we are now, in containers”. Correct lyric: “Here we are now, entertain us” from Nirvana’s ‘Smells like teen spirit’.

24. “Poppadom peach”. Correct lyric: “Papa don’t preach” from Madonna’s ‘Papa don’t preach’.

25. “Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight”. Correct lyric: “That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight” from R.E.M.’s ‘Losing my religion’.

26. “Bald-headed woman… bald-headed woman to me”. Correct lyric: “More than a woman… more than a woman to me” from the Bee Gees’ ‘More than a woman’.

27. “I remove umbilicals”. Correct lyric: “I believe in miracles” from Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’.

28. “We’re caught in a trout”. Correct lyric: “We’re caught in a trap” from Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’

29. “I’m Terry Wogan”. Correct lyric: “I’m every woman” from Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’.

30. “Let me just staple the vicar”. Correct lyric: “Just let me state for the record” from Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’.

31. “This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus” Correct lyric: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” from Fifth Dimension’s ‘Aquarius’.

32. “You’re the wobbly one”. Correct lyric: “You’re the one that I want” from John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John’s ‘One that I want’.

33. “Don’t go Jason Waterfalls”. Correct lyric: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” from TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’.

34. “A year has passed since I broke my nose”. Correct lyric: “A year has passed since I wrote my note” from The Police’s ‘Message In A Bottle’.

35. “Kick a chicken with it”. Correct lyric: “Gettin’ jiggy with it” from Will Smith’s ‘Gettin’ jiggy with it’.

36. “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”. Correct lyric: “Hold me closer, tiny dancer” from Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’.

37. “Take your teeth out, tell me what’s wrong”. Correct lyric: “Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong” from Abba’s ‘Chiquitita’.

38. “I like big butts in a can of limes”. Correct lyric: “I like big butts and I cannot lie” from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’.

39. “We’re working for peanuts”. Correct lyric: “We’re heading for Venus” from Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’.

40. “I just died in your barn tonight, mustard no mayonnaise instead”. Correct lyric: “I just died in your arms tonight, It must have been something you said” from Cutting Crew’s ‘I just died in your arms tonight’.
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 16:43

Syd Barrett adopted "The madcap laughs" from Gilmour's mishearing of "mad cat".
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptyMon 02 Sep 2019, 22:06

nordmann wrote:
Given that this is a thread about the development of language it occurred to me that LiR's example is actually quite pertinent and illustrates a common theme in semantics but with a quite untypical word within that theme - the prevalence of homonyms which tend to obfuscate meaning when they occur (especially as loan words enter one language from another) and often lead to whole new usage of a sound as the original confusion they cause creates a standard that everyone now agrees makes semantic sense, even if that sense is quite different from what was originally meant at all.

Apart from the semantic confusion between "austere" and "good man" associated with use of the word "lent" (both of which were not very popular expressions at all in English anyway as far as I can see), the development of the homonym from two distinct sources in other languages also reveals another huge factor in how languages develop and words acquire new meaning. Both sources in this case also contained now obsolete meanings which contributed to, but are distinct from, modern usage.

If the "austere" sense in Old French did indeed arise from an association with the religious period Lent (as the OED also suggests, Paul), then this shows a typical semantic shift in operation as languages develop over time. A term originally intended only to indicate lengthening of days was subsumed into a religious term of reference which then completely monopolised its use thereafter. And then, as this became the accepted usage with all that Lent and its observance now inferred it was a logical (if obscure) jump semantically to employ the term as an adjective for one major aspect to that usage - the austerity it demanded on the part of the individual.

However the other side of the homonym and its source are even more fascinating. What had started in Latin as a euphemism for an aspect to a person's character derived from words originally meaning "from a prominence" (often with a superlative tacked on as it was most frequently used when praising an individual, which in Latin involved quite a lot of such superlative suffixes) entered various European languages as the much less precise "very good", though with its use implying "better than your average very good" - a little like "very good - with knobs on". Once losing its precision it could then be applied to anything, which might lead to many interesting misunderstandings should a classical Latin speaker arrive in our modern world and hear someone describe the meal they'd just eaten as "excellent". The idea that one's dinner could be "high minded" would have at least sparked a debate about animism in the Aurelius household at any rate.

Most words that underwent dramatic semantic shift as they were introduced into developing languages were down to being homonyms or near-homonyms, confused with terms already in use. It is not so common to see a word retain much of its structure, avoid confusion with a vernacular comparison, and still undergo such shift. And it is even more uncommon to see one that originated in Latin - what distinguished words with Latin or Greek roots in most European languages is that they were introduced because of their specifity, were employed in a Lingua Franca on that basis for many centuries, and survived more or less intact semantically as a result.

Samuel Epes Turner doesn't know what he's started here ....
and
"According to the OED it appeared in Old French as "cellente", "lente" or "lent", this from the Vulgate Latin "cellenti" (from the Latin "excellenti(missimus)" - the "missimus" being a superlative dropped in vernacular speech).

In Italy the surname "Cellenti" still survives and is translated to correspond with the English "Goodfellow" or "Goodman". 

The use of "lent" as "austere" seems to have come from associating the period of Lent (derived from similar words in Germanic languages meaning "longer days" or "Spring") with the austerity involved in observing it. However this would be a very bad translation of Einhard's original "excellentissimi", not least because its use in this manner was very limited and very late in English. Hence the confusion Turner risked - he opted for one obscure use that could easily have been confused for another obscure use, when in fact he had several more popular English words that would have suited much better, even ones with the archaic quality he had tried to present


nordmann,


thank you very much for the extended explanation and even detailing it in depth...I read it all with interest...and am perhaps one of the few, who appreciates such comments Wink 


Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The development of a language…   The development of a language… - Page 2 EmptySun 06 Oct 2019, 21:19

Don't ask me how I saw it but I watched a recent episode of a long-running American cop show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.  For a long time I hadn't realised that Mariska Hartigay who plays one of the female leads (quite a serious part) was the daughter of (well Jayne Mansfield had three daughters I think) Jayne Mansfield who was perhaps more known for lighter and more comedic roles.  Unlike her late mother Ms Hartigay doesn't have her hair bleached.  But to get to the subject of this thread.  In the episode I watched Ian McShane was playing a sleazy director who made use of the casting couch (I suppose inspired by the "metoo" movement.  His character told one of the police characters "Don't get your knickers in a twist" which would be apt for a British character (he was playing with his natural British accent) though I would have expected it to have been adapted for an American audience to "Don't get your panties in a bunch" (which I have heard in an American film on TV).  The meaning of the expression is along the lines of to get flustered or anxious or even somewhat annoyed.
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