Print Story I feel like I'm catching a cold
Diary
By lm (Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 09:46:08 AM EST) (all tags)
Or perhaps it's more accurate to see that I feel like I've caught a cold.


English is weird.Etymology Onlines tells me that "cold" as a noun used to meaning having caught a cold only goes back to the 16th century. It's from earlier use of the word to describe illness from actual exposure to cold such as hypothermia or having the chills.

Catching a chill is pretty much unchanged all these centuries. But it means something entirely different to have a chilling effect on speech or to chill out or to chill's someone's spirits.

And then there's "cool". My favorite use of which comes from Abraham Lincoln, "That is cool". Out of context old Honest Abe seems hip. But really he's just using "cool" to mean "cold" to mean "unmoved by feeling" which goes back to a late Old English meaning for "cold".

And that only scratches the surface. By the seventies we have English language commercials for Mr. Microphone with hip teens arguing over whether "it's hot" or "it's cool" when they both mean the same thing.

What a tangled web we weave here.

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I feel like I'm catching a cold | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
That's because English is by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 04:00:27 PM EST
the result of Norman man-at-arms trying to bed a Saxon barmaid. English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Coming away... by ana (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 05:24:30 PM EST
 ... with the pocket lint, is a great addition to that turn of phrase.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

[ Parent ]
Yeah, English is like that by lm (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 07:43:35 PM EST
But this case we're dealing with words all from the same roots: chill, cool, and cold all come from the German linguistic family tree.

One of the things I find amusing about English is that despite being a "German" language it has more affinities with French via situations like your Norman on Saxon scenario.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
The funny part is... by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 10:06:54 PM EST
French is derived from Latin, but heavily influenced by the Germanic languages.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
One would think by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 11:02:50 PM EST
But, at least in modern variants, French and English seem close (and closer to Latin than to German) while German seems far away.

At least that's my takeaway. But, to be fair, most of my German studies have been philosophical German which is arguably a creature entirely other than regular German. That said, for a time, I tried to keep up with a couple German language newspapers. French was a lot easier for me to learn to read, the sentence structure was far closer to English. And most of English's hard to remember conjugations and declensions come from German (e.g. plurals formed by adding "ren" like "children") while the more common ones (like adding an "s" for a plural) come from French.

There was undoubtedly some influence in the other direction. Cultural influences are usually a two way street. But it's odd to me just how different modern German is from modern English.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Ironically by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Jul 30, 2018 at 03:57:15 PM EST
English seems to have lost some of that complicated grammar when the Danes controlled half of Britain.  (Grammar tends to simplify when you've got a lot of non-native speakers around trying to use it.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I've always sorta thought... by ana (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 30, 2018 at 04:03:30 PM EST
that English lost a lot of the grammatical endings when Angles and Saxons met Danes who spoke a closely related language, but with different grammatical endings.

Also it's my experience that translating German/English or vice versa, you take the compound words, cut them up, translate the bits from Latin into German (or vice versa) and put them together again. The English had the same urge to make compounds that Germanic peoples everywhere do, but they did it with a lot of French and Latin-based root words.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

[ Parent ]
Cutting up the words is the easy part by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jul 30, 2018 at 07:04:21 PM EST
The hard part is grouping them into the proper clauses.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Complicated from a modern English POV ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jul 30, 2018 at 07:03:09 PM EST
... but from the POV of the rest of the world, English grammar is pretty complicated. It's just that the complexity is in word order rather than inflection.

That said, French and English both have mostly SVO (Subject Verb Object) word order while German has mostly SOV word order with V2 (verb in second position) word order for main clauses.

If Danish has SVO word order that might help explain things. But it's not really simplification. It's just different.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
That's not the half of it by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Jul 29, 2018 at 10:05:57 PM EST
Because the Saxon barmaid was raised by her Viking uncle and liked to slip out back with her Celtic boyfriend.  The Norman man-at-arms has a French mother and a Viking father, but was sent off to the Latin monk for an education.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
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