A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 Similar languages, same words, but other meaning

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 21:29

Take for instance the English: "I wonder". In Dutch: "Ik vraag mij af" (I ask myself). In German "Ich frage mich" But "wonder", "mirakel" in Dutch, "Wunder" in German, the same as in English: "wonder", "miracle", same as the French "miracle".
I wonder where the connection is between the English "I wonder" and the noun "wonder" as I suppose there has to be a connectiion?

If I compare Dutch with German I can nearly always say that similar words have the same meaning, but not so many times when I compare Dutch with English. From the other side if I compare French with English, similar words have always (or nearly) the same meaning, for instance "horrible" and "horrible", "beauté" and "beauty"...thousands of them...or it has to be that English has kept the original Latin word, while French has a newer typical French evoluted word...?

And of course there are the words similar in all the Romance or Germanic languages as from Latin or Greek origin...as "tempus", "temps", "time", "tijd", "Zeit".
Sometimes Germanic words entered Latin and came later back in Germanic languages as from Latin origin. seeking for an example for the moment...
Sad that our British linguïst from the ex-BBC isn't here for the moment...forgot his name now...

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1086
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 22:17

Stoggler?  I think Nordmann has strong knowledge in this area, though. My Shorter OED says wonder as a verb comes from the noun, and in the intransitive form with the sense of being curious about (eg "I wonder why...") it dates back to Middle English as does the verbal form, so is a very early extension from the sense of wonderment/miracle etc.

Cheers, Caro.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 22:35

Paul: You don't need to switch language to change a meaning. I invite you to consider the relocation of, and difference between, an English and an American fanny.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2060
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 10 Dec 2013, 03:17

You don't even need to relocate to a different English speaking country to find same words with different meanings. The English language has evolved them all on its own, well same word but opposite meanings anyway. Or contronyms.

Dust - to remove dust and also to cover with dust
Moot - debatable and not worth debating
Fast - moving quickly and not able to move
Seed - to sow seed or to remove seeds
Bound - fastened to a spot or heading for somewhere
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 10 Dec 2013, 09:54

The transition of the verb "to wonder" in English from a direct association with the noun's meaning (something that amazes) to a rather less exclamatory "think about" or "puzzle about" has been very gradual. For the majority of its use it was a transitive verb and is still a reflexive verb in Norwegian where the verb root is undre (jeg undrer meg - "I wonder me"). "It wonders me" is still to be heard in some northern dialects in England but it is unclear if this is a genuine remnant of Old English or from Norse influence.

By Tyndale's bible "wonder" as a verb had lost its reflexivity but still had associations with "marvel" or "awe". I found one example from Charlotte Brontë where it was followed by an "if" so that means by the mid 19th century it was already losing its awesomeness and becoming more conjectural. However amazingly I can't find a "wonder how" or "wonder why" earlier than the 19-teens.

Here's a rather catchy use of "wonder why" that sprang to mind:

Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 10 Dec 2013, 14:24

One that I found was interesting - "scote" in early German was a wooden crossbar, particularly one found on a cart "waghen". The wood therefore had to be of the highest quality, usually oak, regardless of what was used to construct the rest of the vehicle. By the 14th century it had made it into Dutch/Flemish as "waghenscote" and had come to mean any wood of high quality, whatever it was going to be used for. It was also in the 14th century that England first began to feel the pinch after centuries of deforestation and had to look abroad to import wood for building purposes. Panelling of stone walls with quality timber also came into vogue at the same time and the imported Dutch "waghenscote" became the English "wainscot".

In German however the more general application of the term survived. Mozart, in a letter to his father (and manager) Leopold, once pleaded with him to approach Signor Alabetti - a violin maker in Vienna - and ask him for three more of his "instruments of the finest waghenscote as before". In the translation I read this had been translated as "the finest material" - obviously the translator was afraid for what might be erroneously implied about Sr Alabetti's work practices had he used the correct term "wainscot".
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Thu 12 Dec 2013, 22:03

@nordmann wrote:
The transition of the verb "to wonder" in English from a direct association with the noun's meaning (something that amazes) to a rather less exclamatory "think about" or "puzzle about" has been very gradual. For the majority of its use it was a transitive verb and is still a reflexive verb in Norwegian where the verb root is undre (jeg undrer meg - "I wonder me"). "It wonders me" is still to be heard in some northern dialects in England but it is unclear if this is a genuine remnant of Old English or from Norse influence.

By Tyndale's bible "wonder" as a verb had lost its reflexivity but still had associations with "marvel" or "awe". I found one example from Charlotte Brontë where it was followed by an "if" so that means by the mid 19th century it was already losing its awesomeness and becoming more conjectural. However amazingly I can't find a "wonder how" or "wonder why" earlier than the 19-teens.

Here's a rather catchy use of "wonder why" that sprang to mind:


Nordmann,

thank you very much for the explanation. In the meantime I did research for the Dutch"wonder" and the German "Wunder".
It means: what causes surprise. Etymology: not sure about the origin.
The English "I wonder" can equate the Dutch "ik ben verwonderd dat" (I am surprised that) and the Dutch: "ik vraag mij af" (I ask myself) can also be related to "ik ben nieuwsgierig naar" (I am curious about, inquisitive) what comes in the neighbourhood of your "I am puzzled by"...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Thu 12 Dec 2013, 22:35

@nordmann wrote:
One that I found was interesting - "scote" in early German was a wooden crossbar, particularly one found on a cart "waghen". The wood therefore had to be of the highest quality, usually oak, regardless of what was used to construct the rest of the vehicle. By the 14th century it had made it into Dutch/Flemish as "waghenscote" and had come to mean any wood of high quality, whatever it was going to be used for. It was also in the 14th century that England first began to feel the pinch after centuries of deforestation and had to look abroad to import wood for building purposes. Panelling of stone walls with quality timber also came into vogue at the same time and the imported Dutch "waghenscote" became the English "wainscot".

In German however the more general application of the term survived. Mozart, in a letter to his father (and manager) Leopold, once pleaded with him to approach Signor Alabetti - a violin maker in Vienna - and ask him for three more of his "instruments of the finest waghenscote as before". In the translation I read this had been translated as "the finest material" - obviously the translator was afraid for what might be erroneously implied about Sr Alabetti's work practices had he used the correct term "wainscot".


Nordmann,

did some research for "waghenscote"
"scote" in early German was a wooden crossbar, particularly one found on a cart "waghen"
I didn't find anything about "scote" in that sense. Where did you find it?
"scote" as to do with "schot", "beschot" (lambrizering, wainscotting, panneling).
As for "waghen" the etymology seems contradictory...
As for "wagenschot"
http://gtb#inl#nl/iWDB/search?actie=article&wdb=WNT&id=M083487
Special from Eastern Europe imported oak wood...sawn with a special method...
http://www.joostdevree.nl/shtmls/wagenschot.shtml
And:
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagenschot

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5151
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Fri 13 Dec 2013, 06:05

@nordmann wrote:
However amazingly I can't find a "wonder how" or "wonder why" earlier than the 19-teens.


I wonder how our princely father 'scaped,
Or whether he be 'scaped away or no
From Clifford's and Northumberland's pursuit:
Had he been ta'en, we should have heard the news;
Had he been slain, we should have heard the news;
Or had he 'scaped, methinks we should have heard
The happy tidings of his good escape.

Henry VI Part III, Act II sc i
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Fri 13 Dec 2013, 08:45

Might have known Our Billy would have been in the vanguard! I assume in his day using it as a non-reflexive verb was still regarded as rather innovative and was still designed to infer amazement or bafflement rather than just idle conjecture.

Paul, your "scote" research makes sense, or at least tallies with the OED. By Middle German the word had indeed come to mean high-quality timber, especially used in wagon construction and, by inference, panelling. By this time good quality carriages were employing panelling more and more so the word which had previously only applied to the cross-timbers constituting the frame of the vehicle now also applied to the surface panelling. In Old German it is found with various spellings (schot being the most common) where it meant partition or divider. In modern German "schote" is still used in botany to describe a pod, which may relate to the fact that pods frequently appear to be ribbed structures, the strong ribs or seams separating "panels" on the pod's surface.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Fri 13 Dec 2013, 22:31

@Caro wrote:
Stoggler?  I think Nordmann has strong knowledge in this area, though. My Shorter OED says wonder as a verb comes from the noun, and in the intransitive form with the sense of being curious about (eg "I wonder why...") it dates back to Middle English as does the verbal form, so is a very early extension from the sense of wonderment/miracle etc.

Cheers, Caro.

Caro,

excuses for the delay in replying.

yes Stoggler...What a memory for names...there was also a contributor, who had a Dutch name, but when I asked he said it was British...and he was also knowledgeable in Germanic languages studies...

Kind regards from Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Fri 20 Dec 2013, 22:15

I wonder if there is a connection between the English: "slim", the Dutch "slim" (clever, smart) and the German "schlimm" (bad, serious)?

Regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Fri 20 Dec 2013, 23:38

Yes, there is a direct connection and it highlights a particular problem with semantics when words not only reverse their connotations in terms of positive and negative meaning when crossing between languages but appear to do so almost immediately.

"Slim" appeared in English at the same time as the Ango-Dutch wars were introducing several phrases from or alluding to the Dutch which were negative ("Dutch Uncle, doubledutch etc). Yet the earliest recorded use of the term in English, from 1657, was used to imply "gracefully thin", even though its then connotation in Dutch was generally one of "slyness" or "craftiness" and it was still being used to imply obliqueness and crookedness, both in terms of stature and personality.

There are two later examples in English from the 1680s which refer to "slim" jokes and in both cases the inference is blatantly "maliciousness" so that perhaps is a clue to what was really going on semantically. This is obviously a negative implication, in keeping with its Dutch and German equivalents of the period. However rather than making the earlier application of the term an aberration it probably serves more to inform us of how people of the period in England regarded "gracefully thin". This was obviously not always said with the intent to pass a compliment, but in an age when buxomness and a wide girth generally inferred good humour and even sexual appeal the opposite physical appearance could well be an inference of a cunning or otherwise suspect individual who perhaps should not be so readily trusted or even liked, despite their apparent gracefulness.

The crucial aspect in this case would appear to be that in England it increasingly became applicable to purely physical appearance and as time has progressed the word has therefore not only shed its old negative connotations but has actually acquired quite positive ones as thinness in terms of a person's stature has become more and more synonymous with good health. Amazingly now "slim" has superseded "thin" in English in this respect. We would never accuse anyone for example of being "excessively slim" whereas "excessively thin" immediately conjures up the image of an anorexic.

Infuriatingly the OED is not specific about the 1657 citation. It would be logical to assume however that it was used in English at least for a while afterwards to infer "slight" or "insubstantial" in terms of a person's character too. However there are very few and only extremely sporadic actual examples of this, something that simply reinforces the illusion of it flipping meaning so suddenly after its importation and adoption. A slight remnant of such an application however may be "slim chance" in which the slenderness of the opportunity referred to is almost always applied negatively. We might say an ill person has a slim chance of survival but we would rarely say, for example, that a person has a slim chance of winning the lottery. Although slim infers no exact quantity besides meagre and the phrase therefore is ostensibly quite unimpeachable in its semantic intent, it just doesn't sound quite correct to do so. However the exact reason why it sounds incongruous is no longer obvious - most would in fact probably say now that it is because it sounds like it infers that their chance of winning is better than it really is, so positive has "slim" now become.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 00:56

Another word which underwent a semantic metamorphosis from its original German and Old English meaning is "smart". "Schmerz" still means pain in German ("smart" in Norwegian confusingly exhibits the current German meaning using the current English spelling). It might seem strange that such a negative word could ever have ended up meaning "intelligent" but yet it did and the semantic progression can indeed be traced through the history of English. 

It is still used in English to mean "pain", though now this meaning is quite relegated in use as illustrated by where dictionaries place that explanation in their list. However it infers a particular kind of pain, a sharp and excruciating pang such as that inflicted by a bite. This is a very old usage in English, and it was this application that set it on its journey to becoming "clever". "Biting" over time led to "incisiveness" ("sharp" and "cutting" also are both positive aspects to a person's intellect dating from this time too). It spent a while inferring vigour and so came to imply briskness and being quick (a "smart" pace for example). All of these could readily be applied positively to intellectual processes so that ultimately it was inevitable that "smart" (the one word which united and still unites all these synonyms) would become an expression for one who is conspicuously intelligent.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2753
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 09:59

@PaulRyckier wrote:
I wonder if there is a connection between the English: "slim", the Dutch "slim" (clever, smart) and the German "schlimm" (bad, serious)?


There is much the same thing with the English "malign" (bad/evil) and the French "malin" - or in the feminine form "maligne" ... meaning (in modern French) clever/smart/intelligent ... but nuanced towards being cunning/tricky/devious ... or 'too clever for one's own good'. The use is subtle: there is a French motorway services restaurant chain (a bit like the old "Happy Eater" chain in the UK) called "Le Chef Malin" - "The Clever Chef", the idea being that he's cunning with the delightful and inexpensive food that he prepares ... rather than that he cunningly cheats his customers!

The English of course is derived from the French but retains an older French usage meaning something bad, which in turn derived from the Latin "malignus" - bad/evil.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 10:30

Another word from English that mirrors the French "malin" in that its later semantic shift though thorough was very late indeed is "cute". Stemming directly back through French to Latin and at all times throughout this process right up to the 18th century retaining only the literal meaning of "sharp" (often even spelt in written form as 'cute, showing that it was simply an abbreviated "acute" though with no further implication) its obvious usefulness as a synonym for "intelligent" overtook its original prosaic meaning. As "acute" was used less and less to this end (graduating towards "intense" rather than its original "cutting" inference) "cute" carried on its parent's etymological trajectory and settled as a nuance for "slyly clever". "Sharp practise", meaning something cleverly designed to cheat a person out of something, originated around then too.

Its usage as a euphemism for "pretty" however is part of that great etymological divide in English that occurred when a large portion of the world's English speakers found themselves concentrated in far-flung colonial outposts, especially in the USA where many words retained their 16th and 17th century meanings long after these had been radically altered in England. "Sharp" meaning "handsome" or "pretty" had originated in England and survived in the colonies long after it fell out of colloquial use back in England where more negative connotations became dominant. In the USA "cute" also retained its close association with "sharp" and by the 19th century was being used therefore as a variant of that synonym for someone pleasing to the eye. Thanks to modern cultural trans-Atlantic interchange these have all now been reintroduced to colloquial English in the UK leading to potential confusion and the need to be careful in establishing context when using them. A cute woman and a cute politician are two very different animals.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2060
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 11:02

Quite a few years ago in Australia, cute was used for someone who wasn't particularly attractive in the traditional sense, but still had a certain appeal or quirkyness. All the girls hated to be called 'cute'.  Now the meaning has shifted again, toward the American version of the word.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 11:13

Australia was established as a self-standing culture later than the USA. In its own way Australian colloquial expression serves often as an insight into late 18th century and early 19th century English as spoken in England (Scotland and Ireland continued producing their own mini-etymological avenues for the imported/inflicted tongue). By then "cute" and "sharp" had generally attained negative connotations back in the UK.

What is common as a general trend, at least up to recently, is that these large colonial outposts proved in fact resistant to etymological shift once established whereas counter-intuitively perhaps the inhabitants of the British Isles seemed radically willing to adapt English by comparison. There have been many reasons put forward for this, not all of them which complement each other, but it is undeniable that both the USA and Australian cultures retain usages from their foundation which were "proper English" at the time but now have long since evolved in the UK. Immigration patterns and perception of a dominant culture rather than openness to change, I imagine, lie at the root of it.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 20:23

@nordmann wrote:
Yes, there is a direct connection and it highlights a particular problem with semantics when words not only reverse their connotations in terms of positive and negative meaning when crossing between languages but appear to do so almost immediately.

"Slim" appeared in English at the same time as the Ango-Dutch wars were introducing several phrases from or alluding to the Dutch which were negative ("Dutch Uncle, doubledutch etc). Yet the earliest recorded use of the term in English, from 1657, was used to imply "gracefully thin", even though its then connotation in Dutch was generally one of "slyness" or "craftiness" and it was still being used to imply obliqueness and crookedness, both in terms of stature and personality.

There are two later examples in English from the 1680s which refer to "slim" jokes and in both cases the inference is blatantly "maliciousness" so that perhaps is a clue to what was really going on semantically. This is obviously a negative implication, in keeping with its Dutch and German equivalents of the period. However rather than making the earlier application of the term an aberration it probably serves more to inform us of how people of the period in England regarded "gracefully thin". This was obviously not always said with the intent to pass a compliment, but in an age when buxomness and a wide girth generally inferred good humour and even sexual appeal the opposite physical appearance could well be an inference of a cunning or otherwise suspect individual who perhaps should not be so readily trusted or even liked, despite their apparent gracefulness.

The crucial aspect in this case would appear to be that in England it increasingly became applicable to purely physical appearance and as time has progressed the word has therefore not only shed its old negative connotations but has actually acquired quite positive ones as thinness in terms of a person's stature has become more and more synonymous with good health. Amazingly now "slim" has superseded "thin" in English in this respect. We would never accuse anyone for example of being "excessively slim" whereas "excessively thin" immediately conjures up the image of an anorexic.

Infuriatingly the OED is not specific about the 1657 citation. It would be logical to assume however that it was used in English at least for a while afterwards to infer "slight" or "insubstantial" in terms of a person's character too. However there are very few and only extremely sporadic actual examples of this, something that simply reinforces the illusion of it flipping meaning so suddenly after its importation and adoption. A slight remnant of such an application however may be "slim chance" in which the slenderness of the opportunity referred to is almost always applied negatively. We might say an ill person has a slim chance of survival but we would rarely say, for example, that a person has a slim chance of winning the lottery. Although slim infers no exact quantity besides meagre and the phrase therefore is ostensibly quite unimpeachable in its semantic intent, it just doesn't sound quite correct to do so. However the exact reason why it sounds incongruous is no longer obvious - most would in fact probably say now that it is because it sounds like it infers that their chance of winning is better than it really is, so positive has "slim" now become.

Nordmann,

thank you very much for your elaborated message, meticelously answering the question with the etymologic history.

"Slim" appeared in English at the same time as the Ango-Dutch wars were introducing several phrases from or alluding to the Dutch which were negative ("Dutch Uncle, doubledutch etc). Yet the earliest recorded use of the term in English, from 1657, was used to imply "gracefully thin", even though its then connotation in Dutch was generally one of "slyness" or "craftiness" and it was still being used to imply obliqueness and crookedness, both in terms of stature and personality."
"even though its then connotation in Dutch was generally one of "slyness" or "craftiness" and it was still being used to imply obliqueness and crookedness, both in terms of stature and personality"

In our! Dutch dialect, we have also the expression: " 't is 'n slimmen" in the meaning of "it's a sly (Dutch: sluw) one".

"There are two later examples in English from the 1680s which refer to "slim" jokes and in both cases the inference is blatantly "maliciousness" so that perhaps is a clue to what was really going on semantically. This is obviously a negative implication, in keeping with its Dutch and German equivalents of the period. However rather than making the earlier application of the term an aberration it probably serves more to inform us of how people of the period in England regarded "gracefully thin". This was obviously not always said with the intent to pass a compliment, but in an age when buxomness and a wide girth generally inferred good humour and even sexual appeal the opposite physical appearance could well be an inference of a cunning or otherwise suspect individual who perhaps should not be so readily trusted or even liked, despite their apparent gracefulness."

Interesting thinking. With esteem for your in depth analysing.

"Amazingly now "slim" has superseded "thin" in English in this respect. We would never accuse anyone for example of being "excessively slim" whereas "excessively thin" immediately conjures up the image of an anorexic."

"thin" I think in Dutch "dun" is rather used as I suppose in English in the sense of "a thin blade", whereas for "a slim girl" we would say in the positive sense: "slank" (slim), for a "thin" girl we would rather say "tenger" (fragile). For an anorexic girl we would say "vel over benen" Twisted Evil  (skin over bones)...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 21:11

OOPS and I forgot, I found the link between the Dutch "slim" and the German "schlimm".

http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/slim

"Mnl. slem(p), slim ‘scheef, schuin’ " In Middle Dutch "slem(p)" is "schuin, scheef" (slanting, (but also: smutty))

"De oorspr. betekenis is ‘schuin, scheef’. Doordat scheef vaak contrasteert met dat wat recht of goed is, kon zowel in het Duits als in het Nederlands de betekenis overgaan in ‘slecht, verkeerd e.d.’. In het Vroegnieuwnederlands heeft deze laatste betekenis zich verder ontwikkeld van ‘sluw, gewiekst’ tot ‘slim’."

The original meaning is "slanting". But while slanting is in contrast with right and good, could, both in German and in Dutch, the meaning change to "bad, wrong and so on". In the Early New Dutch has this meaning developped further from "sly,shrewd" to "clever".

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 21 Dec 2013, 21:48

@nordmann wrote:
Another word which underwent a semantic metamorphosis from its original German and Old English meaning is "smart". "Schmerz" still means pain in German ("smart" in Norwegian confusingly exhibits the current German meaning using the current English spelling). It might seem strange that such a negative word could ever have ended up meaning "intelligent" but yet it did and the semantic progression can indeed be traced through the history of English. 

It is still used in English to mean "pain", though now this meaning is quite relegated in use as illustrated by where dictionaries place that explanation in their list. However it infers a particular kind of pain, a sharp and excruciating pang such as that inflicted by a bite. This is a very old usage in English, and it was this application that set it on its journey to becoming "clever". "Biting" over time led to "incisiveness" ("sharp" and "cutting" also are both positive aspects to a person's intellect dating from this time too). It spent a while inferring vigour and so came to imply briskness and being quick (a "smart" pace for example). All of these could readily be applied positively to intellectual processes so that ultimately it was inevitable that "smart" (the one word which united and still unites all these synonyms) would become an expression for one who is conspicuously intelligent.


Yes, Nordmann, in Dutch we have the expression: "in pijn en smart" (in pain and grief)

Dutch "pijn" from Late Latin "pena", Latin "poena" (punishment). Greek "poiné". (But in our! Dutch dialect we say "zeer" (English "sore"?))
Dutch "smart", verdriet (grief) abstract from "smertan" (cause grief). If "s" is prefix formed in Germanic then perhaps from Latin "mordere" (bite)...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 22 Dec 2013, 11:43

"Smarting" as in undergoing the pain of grief sounds like something that has made its way back into English from the US, Paul. Yet I remember my grandmother and others of her generation using it particularly and exclusively in that context when referring to a grieving widow or widower, especially when the bereavement was still recent and raw. It almost automatically applied to parents grieving the death of a child. On that basis alone I would imagine it is also a remnant of when "smarting" and "hurting" were not just interchangeable terms depending on how "hip" one might wish to sound but actual co-existing terms designed to deliver different nuances.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5151
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 09:31

Perhaps not relevant, but "naughty" is a word which has changed over time. It now has that childlike, mischievous sense to it, plus that gleeful "naughty, but nice" use. I suppose "mechant" is the French equivalent of this. But "naughty" used to mean very bad indeed; it had very much a "mauvais", even a "mal", feel to it. "Naughty" in the 16th century meant wicked, evil, foul (of weather) or "gone off"/rotten (food).


Naughty nights and naughty figs still make me smile:


'Tis a naughty night to swim in. (Stormy weather in King Lear.)


One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad. (Mouldy fruit from Jeremiah 24:2 King James Bible.)


But my favourite use of "naughty" is the Benny Hill-ish comment (to our modern ears) from Francis I in a letter he wrote to Henry VIII concerning the antics of Henry's latest queen. Writing of the behaviour of young Catherine Howard, the French king noted: "She has done wondrous naughty." She had indeed.




Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 28 Dec 2013, 20:12

@nordmann wrote:
"Smarting" as in undergoing the pain of grief sounds like something that has made its way back into English from the US, Paul. Yet I remember my grandmother and others of her generation using it particularly and exclusively in that context when referring to a grieving widow or widower, especially when the bereavement was still recent and raw. It almost automatically applied to parents grieving the death of a child. On that basis alone I would imagine it is also a remnant of when "smarting" and "hurting" were not just interchangeable terms depending on how "hip" one might wish to sound but actual co-existing terms designed to deliver different nuances.

Thank you again for this explanation, Nordmann.

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 28 Dec 2013, 21:26

I stumbled again on a Dutch word that I thought to be the same word as the German "Zimmer"

Dutch "kamer":
http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/kamer
"kamer" (room in a building. From the late Latin:"camera" (room), derivation from the classic Latin: "camera" (vault). From the Greek: "kamàra" (covered wagon, vaulted room).
The French "chambre" has the same etymology:
http://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/chambre

But then the German "Zimmer":
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Zimmer
From Middle High German "zimber", from Old High German "zimbar", from Prot Germanic "timra". Cognate with English "timber and Dutch "timmer" (my addition: "timmer" in words as "timmerman" (carpenter), "timmerwerk" (carpentry)).


But the German word "Kammer" (although I speak fluently German, I didn't know the word) also exists:
in the same meaning of "room" from the same Latin "camera"
http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kammer

And while we speak about the word "room", the Germans have also "Raum" in the same meaming. In Dutch we say "ruimte", which is more general for all what has a content. The Dutch "ruim" is then however, spacious, large...


As a synonym of the Dutch "kamer" we have also the word "vertrek"
http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/vertrek
Starting from the word "vertrekken" (leave) From that "zich terugtrekken" (retire) to a quiet room...to room to retire...

In our dialect we said during my childhood for the "toilets" also "het vertrek", but the better class said "cabinet" (from the French language), nowadays as we are all "anglicised"  Wink  everybody says "WC", which seems to be the rather prozaic "water closet?"

And again I see that I am nearly always doomed to end with such things as relating to "stoelgang" (litteraly "chair walk") But the ethymology of "stoel" and "gang" and their English, German and French counterparts will be for another time...

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sat 28 Dec 2013, 21:29

Addendum to the previous...

OOPS and I found in my dictionary also the translation of "stoelgang" as the enigmatic "bowels movement"...
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 11:02

"Vertrek" in Dutch corresponds to the English "Drawing room" which has nothing to do with draftsmanship and all to do with where ladies were invited (ordered) to "withdraw" while the men got on with life in the "Living room". Naming rooms after their function however has proven to be problematic in all languages. The Norwegian "Stua" these days corresponds to the English "Living room" and is a close cognate of the German "Stube". Both variants can be traced back to "Stuba" which in Old German signified the warmest room. However in modern usage this notion of heat has survived relatively intact in Norwegian in that the stua is the room normally kept cosiest and warmest so is where most activity occurs, whereas in German it applies more to the provision of warm water and hence came to mean a bathroom and so these days the toilet. This is one Norwegians visiting Germany have to watch out for.

On the subject of bowel movements I am aware why "stool" in English as a word for excrement came about, the "stool" originally being the toilet seat and the noun as part of composite words initially having gradually assumed in meaning the actual product itself. However I wonder if this process was simply paralleled in Dutch and German or if the term was incubated in English and then transferred fully developed to the other languages? I cannot find any etymological trace of the process in German myself.

"Gang" in German, Dutch and Scandinavian can correspond to the English "Going" which in itself represents one of those etymological traps that abound where words sound the same, share a similar meaning, and are therefore assumed to have a common root. As with "kammer" and "zimmer" they do not in this case either. It is also a mystery whereby in English "Gang" came to mean a group of individuals. We know this usage started in the navy around the early 17th century but the transition from "progress" to "group" is not at all documented by example. A best guess is that, like stool, it formed part of composite terms for a while and then eventually assumed its distinct meaning as understood now, however what these composites might have been is not known (the OED guesses perhaps a set of tools used by itinerant workmen). Where it has survived in composite words such as "gangplank" and "gangway" it retains its original meaning and neither even hints at the concept of "group".
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5151
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 16:04

Quote :
...corresponds to the English "Drawing room" which has nothing to do with draftsmanship and all to do with where ladies were invited (ordered) to "withdraw" while the men got on with life in the "Living room".  


What!? You wouldn't find an upper-class Englishman dead in a living room (unless he'd expired on a visit to one of his tenants).

The gentlemen would remain in the dining room with their cigars and port while the ladies withdrew to the drawing room. I have just checked my The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook (not being proper posh, I have to check) and this is confirmed. Posh people did not have living rooms - they had sitting rooms (although that's rather middle-class), breakfast rooms, morning rooms, libraries, music rooms and drawing rooms, but never, ever living rooms. As for parlours, don't go there, unless you're the queen, eating bread and honey. (Front room is northern working-class.)

I was given the Sloane Ranger book one Christmas many years ago: I was mortified to learn that many things simply do not exist for the upper classes - the town of Bolton, the Co-operative Bank and the name Wayne being three things on the list. I was living in Bolton, was with the non-existent bank and owned a moggy (a stray) called Wayne at the time.

PS Milton Keynes also does not exist.


Last edited by Temperance on Sun 29 Dec 2013, 20:44; edited 2 times in total
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 684
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 16:32

My mother - who would be 90 and odd now if she had lived - used "cute" in the meaning of "sharp". "She's quite cute" as in acute but I don't hear that meaning so much now; it's nearly always used as a synonym for "pretty" now.  And when did English start using "It sucks" to mean that something was not particularly wonderful.  I heard that "dumb" in the sense of stupid came from American English via German.  I'll just have to see if I can find an etymological dictionary at a reasonable price on ebay .....

Your Sloane Ranger book sounds hilarious, Temp.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 18:33

Thank you very much Nordmann for the elaborate explanation...again an in depth analysis...

I wanted to start a discussion of the word "gang", but you explained it that much better...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.

PS: Thanks for the joke...not heard yet...and in Belgium they haven't such sophisticated jokes  Wink ...
And if you can visualize (see now in the dictionary that it is not the right word in this context...to form a mental image and all that...English is tricky...), turn my URL into a picture. URL in my former message  about the two handsome priests, the one in "urban" and the one in cassock on the right...for the entertainment of the contributors, both women and men...
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 18:41

Addendum to the previous...

OOPS of course I meant the URL in the Virtual London thread...I mix it a bit all...just arriving from Passion Histoire on an in depth discussion about the evergreen: Was Hitler mad? Something like the JFK murder or the Diana thingie (thingie I learnt recently from Nordmann)...and starting the seventies it don't become better in organizing the brain...

Kind regards from the nevertheless alert Paul.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Sun 29 Dec 2013, 21:09

Yes, Paul, you do need to be alert - your country needs lerts.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Mon 30 Dec 2013, 21:05

Gil, what are you telling me now?

I think I have to be "wakker" (awake), alert with all those British on the boards...

Did some quick research in the all-knowing, omniscient (French: omniscient) Google:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=lert

But didn't become wiser...

Kind regards from your "continental" friend,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 684
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 09:38

Paul, Gilgamesh is pranking you, playing on the words "alert" and "a lert" or plurals "lerts". To be honest I didn't even know there was a noun "lert" till I saw the entry in the urban dictionary. Some years ago a work colleague received a round piece of paper, saying it was a "round tuit" (pronounced too-it) and to guard it with her life. Of course it was a joke playing on the words "I'll do it as soon as I get around to it", i.e. one would do whatever action one was postponing eventually. The implication of the joke was that one now had a physical "round tuit" (which of course outside the joke does not exist) so had no excuse for procrastination.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 09:58

Alas the Urban Dictionary is taking the dic there, LiR. In fact by making up a definition for the word the guys behind Urban Dick are rather spoiling the joke.



I've been investigating another word which shares closely related cognates in English and Dutch and which have diverged in meaning to a degree that isn't huge but definitely vital to know for people crossing the linguistic divide. I'd better be very careful here so I'll simply say that in Dutch it is "de kont", meaning one's posterior in a slightly rude way. You can guess what the English cognate is.

What makes it interesting (besides how from Chaucer to Marvell writers could spell it as "qweint" or "queint" and thus insert some rather clever if gross puns into their texts), is that it is one of the earliest words in English to be known to have acquired a social taboo which survives to this day. For this reason it has given rise to quite an impressive list of synonyms deemed more socially acceptable in attestable texts including, amongst others, "Botany Bay, chum, coffee-shop, cookie, End of the Sentimental Journey, fancy bit, Fumbler's Hall, funniment, goatmilker, heaven, hell, Itching Jenny, jelly-bag, Low Countries, nature's tufted treasure, parenthesis, penwiper, prick-skinner, seminary, tickle-toby, undeniable, wonderful lamp, and aphrodisaical tennis court".

The Dutch also have their synonyms of course, though "liefdesgrot" (cave of love) and "vleesroos" (rose of flesh) are actually rather romantic and sensual in their own way. A far cry from "prick-skinner". I wonder what this might say about the English and Dutch as people? Also, isn't it telling how both "heaven" and "hell" have been considered valid euphemisms for a woman's sexual organs? What does that tell us, I wonder?
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 684
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 11:17

So Urban Dictionary were pranking me and I was silly enough to fall for it, Nordmann .....

With relation to what you say above, I was trying to explain rhyming slang to someone - "septic tank" giving rise to "septic" for "Yank" and "Rosie" shortened from "Rosie Lee" for tea, but even though the modern word "berk" has rather changed its meaning just to signify a twit or a twerp, I could only explain "berk" as "something which rhymes with Berkshire Hunt" - though in my part of the country we tend to say "Barkshire" rather than "Burkshire".

Your knowledge of etymology far surpasses my own.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:24

I believe the rhyming slang term actually originated with a reference to the Berkeley Hunt since this had achieved quite a deal of repute by the early 19th century. However Berkshire's proximity to London could well have insinuated the latter into the mix very early on, even though there was no such thing at the time as "the Berkshire Hunt".

I sat in a pub on Tottenham Court Road a few years ago and found myself explaining to a group of young men, all Londoners by birth, how rhyming slang worked. Sad, on many levels  Smile 

Some slang terms have interesting histories, alright. An early sixteenth century English-speaking Scotsman, for example, would have felt hiimself highly complimented were he to be called a "wally". Also, in light of the forthcoming anticipated influx of Bulgarians into Britain, I wonder how many people understand the actual roots of "bugger" and "buggery"?
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5151
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:27

It's a dissenter, isn't it? A heretic?
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:34

Indeed.

What is most interesting about "bugger" to me is its subsequent transition in the 19th century from its almost taboo-like pejorative application to its use as a term of friendly conviviality and comradeship. Other pejorative words are often used in such a context but within very strictly delimited social conventions today. However "bugger" managed to make that extra leap into general usage so completely that its still understood reference to sodomy was actually ignored by people. I do remember my mother telling me how mortified she was having grown accustomed to using the term as a mild expletive when still a young woman to have her father explain its actual meaning to her one day.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5151
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:38

Just checked - it's to do with Eastern Orthodox Christians (Bulgarian heretics?) being thought to have unorthodox sex lives. Someone should tell the Daily Mail.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:41

The Daily Mail would still conclude that though 11th century Bulgarian heretics were sexually deviant they were also scientifically "proven" to be happy about it. (ref your other post today)
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 684
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 15:04

@nordmann wrote:
I believe the rhyming slang term actually originated with a reference to the Berkeley Hunt since this had achieved quite a deal of repute by the early 19th century. However Berkshire's proximity to London could well have insinuated the latter into the mix very early on, even though there was no such thing at the time as "the Berkshire Hunt".

For some reason I (LiR) can't exit the "quote" frame ............. but this is me now ..... in my defence I'll say I heard the "Berkshire" explanation from a bona fide cockney.  As for the meaning of "Bugger", I used to make a similar mistake when I was but a child about "sod" as a term of abuse, thinking it meant something like "clod" - well "sod" can mean earth also.  The website linked here would indicate that rhyming slang is still alive http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5631
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Tue 31 Dec 2013, 15:16

I managed to get you out of your quote confinement ma'am!   Smile 

As you say, both "clod" and "sod" mean clumps of earth or clay. While a sod is earth or clay carved out with a spade a clod is either a coagulated clump of clay or earth matted together by roots etc. "Clod" and "Clot" once served the same function as a verb meaning to coagulate or thicken. Now they share the same meaning as a noun in the sense of an oaf. However, interestingly, they never shared both meanings at the same time.

I am not sure that "sod" as a term of abuse originated with "sodomite". The OED hedges its bets giving it as an attested term relating to "rural person" as long ago as the 16th century while its apparent derivation from "sodomite/ise/y" is widely believed though not attested.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Wed 01 Jan 2014, 21:56

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
Paul, Gilgamesh is pranking you, playing on the words "alert" and "a lert" or plurals "lerts". To be honest I didn't even know there was a noun "lert" till I saw the entry in the urban dictionary. Some years ago a work colleague received a round piece of paper, saying it was a "round tuit" (pronounced too-it) and to guard it with her life. Of course it was a joke playing on the words "I'll do it as soon as I get around to it", i.e. one would do whatever action one was postponing eventually. The implication of the joke was that one now had a physical "round tuit" (which of course outside the joke does not exist) so had no excuse for procrastination.

Thanks LadyinRetirement for the help and a happy new year to all.
From your Belgian friend, Paul.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1547
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

PostSubject: Re: Similar languages, same words, but other meaning   Wed 01 Jan 2014, 23:05

Nordmann,

"I've been investigating another word which shares closely related cognates in English and Dutch and which have diverged in meaning to a degree that isn't huge but definitely vital to know for people crossing the linguistic divide. I'd better be very careful here so I'll simply say that in Dutch it is "de kont", meaning one's posterior in a slightly rude way. You can guess what the English cognate is."


Did some research. Yes, now I see. But "kont" can also be in North Irish pronunciation a "fool"...(I found also the wiki for it, I mean about the unspeakable word Wink ...)

"What makes it interesting (besides how from Chaucer to Marvell writers could spell it as "qweint" or "queint" and thus insert some rather clever if gross puns into their texts), is that it is one of the earliest words in English to be known to have acquired a social taboo which survives to this day. For this reason it has given rise to quite an impressive list of synonyms deemed more socially acceptable in attestable texts including, amongst others, "Botany Bay, chum, coffee-shop, cookie, End of the Sentimental Journey, fancy bit, Fumbler's Hall, funniment, goatmilker, heaven, hell, Itching Jenny, jelly-bag, Low Countries, nature's tufted treasure, parenthesis, penwiper, prick-skinner, seminary, tickle-toby, undeniable, wonderful lamp, and aphrodisaical tennis court"."

Nordmann, if you would know how many synonyms we have in our West-Flemish dialect?  I can think immediately on about more than ten...But I have to say rather rude as perhaps our  Wink  dialect too...

To come back to the Dutch word "kont". We have it also in our dialect and it is nearly always used for women...as in the expression " 'n ferme kont" meaning a good-looking bottom...
"ferm" has the same meaning as the English "firm"
http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/ferm from the Latin "firmus"...
But in our dialect it has also the connotation of "good-looking"

The more respectable word for "kont" is "achterste" (bottom), but in our dialect we used in the past (the not anglicised now) the French "derrière". But in our dialect the word "gat" (hole) is also colloquial and not persé rude. The word "hol" (hole) is perhaps more rude...

And thanks for all the effort you did to explain my words...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
Back to top Go down
 

Similar languages, same words, but other meaning

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of expression ... :: Language-