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Q&A

General Q&A about specific languages, language in general, and linguistics.

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How can a prepositional phrase shift to become a verb?

I don't know why, but the embolded semantic shift for agree (v.) below unsettles me. a gré is a prepositional phrase, correct? If so, how can a prepositional phrase transmogrify into a ve...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2d ago by PSTH‭

40%
+0 −1
The use of the past simple and the past perfect in these scenarios

1 -- Are you a member of GE? -- No, I was a member for 9 years. I think Correct 2 -- Are you a member of GE? -- No, I had been a member for 9 years. I think WRONG 3 -- Are you a member of ...

0 answers  ·  posted 8d ago by user11QQ‭

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+2 −4
How's inVEST semantically related to VEST? How did the "idea of dressing your capital up in different clothes" arise?

Isn't "the idea of dressing one’s capital up in different clothes by putting it into a particular business, stock, etc" batty? This semantic relationship would never cross the mind of an amateur re...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1mo ago by PSTH‭

77%
+5 −0
Plural agreement with a syntactically singular subject

Many quantity words trigger agreement with their object rather than themselves. For instance, syntactically, "a lot, "a bunch", "an amount" seem to all be singular. However, as a native speaker, "T...

1 answer  ·  posted 2mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

18%
+0 −7
How did rǣda work syntactically, after shifting from 'advise' to mean 'interpret and understand the meaning of written symbols'?

Old English rǣda semantically shifted from ‘advise, consult, guess’ to mean ‘interpret, interpret letters, read’. But isn't this semantic shift unsyntactical and infelicitous? Advisor's writin...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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What semantic notions underlie 'to advise, counsel, guess' (rǣda) 🡺 'peruse' (read)?

How did ‘advise, consult, guess’ semantically shift 🢂 to signify ‘interpret, interpret letters, read’? How do they semantically appertain? read [OE] In most western European languages, the wor...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2mo ago by PSTH‭

25%
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What semantic notions underlie 'anger, agitation' (PIE *ǵʰéysd-) 🡺 'ghost'?

On October 31 2016, Kevin Stroud wrote The connection between “ghost” and “guest/host” is mentioned on page 303 of ‘The Horse, The Wheel and Language” by David W. Anthony [quoted on English Stac...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2mo ago by PSTH‭

80%
+6 −0
When does "me-" go on verbs?

So I started learning Indonesian through a Duolingo course for 2 weeks now, and I've gotten to the "Me- Verbs" part as I'm writing this question. I have already learned a few verbs from past lesso...

1 answer  ·  posted 4mo ago by General Sebast1an‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by General Sebast1an‭

25%
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How did in- + partire compound to mean "communicate as knowledge of information" (impart)?

What semantic notions underlie in- + partire 🡺 with "communicate as knowledge or information"? This semantic shift flummoxes me, because in- + partire "was not originally restricted to immaterial ...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 3mo ago by PSTH‭

42%
+1 −2
What does Etymonline mean by 'to raise (someone) out of trouble'?

I have never heard of "to raise (someone) out of trouble"! What does this mean? relieve (v.) [on Etymonline] late 14c., releven, "alleviate (pain, etc.) wholly or partly, mitigate; afford comfo...

1 answer  ·  posted 3mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

37%
+1 −3
What semantic notions underlie 'con-' + 'sign' 🡺 with "deliver or transmit (goods) for sale or custody"?

How did con- + sign semantically shift 🡲 to this modern sense in Commerce? Why did con- + sign shift so radically, but NOT 'sign'? In Modern English, "sign" alone doesn't possess this Comm...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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How did 'rendre' semantically shift from meaning 'give back' to 🡺 1. 'make, cause to be' 🡲 2. 'represent, depict'?

What semantic notions underlie "give back" with 🢂 "make[,] or cause to be in a certain state"? 🡪 "represent, depict"? render (v.) [on Etymonline] late 14c., rendren, rendre, "repe...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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If assūmptiō = 'take up', then can ad- (prefix) = 'up'? But why, when super- = 'up'?

Are these definitions correct? Even though p. 262 below (bottom scan) doesn't list "take up" as a meaning of assūmptiō? (13th, from Latin assūmptiō, the act of taking up, from Latin assūmere...

1 answer  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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+1 −3
Isn't lībra pondō circumlocutory? Because both lībra and pondō meant "weight"?

Isn't lībra pondō redundant? It feels pleonastic and tautological — because both lībra and pondō meant "weight" — see below. Wikipedia translates lībra pondō as "("the weight measured in libr...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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+6 −0
Is obrigado used in case of unclear gender of the author?

In Portuguese a male speaker thanks with an «obrigado», while a female with an «obrigada». I am reading a text (some thank you notice for buying some mass-produced industrial product with no obvio...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by Quasímodo‭

28%
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What semantic notions underlie "inmost, innermost" (intimus) 🡲 with "make known, announce" (intimo)?

How did intimus "inmost, innermost, deepest" (adj.) semantically shift to 🡺 intimare "make known, announce, impress" ? These meanings are polar opposites! If something is inmost, then it's private...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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Demise — How did "dismiss, put away" semantically shift to mean 🡲 a transfer of property, or the grant of a lease?

What semantic notions underlie "dismiss, put away" (desmetre) 🢂 with transferring property or granting a lease (demise)? This semantic shift befuddles me, because — Humans "dismiss, put away"...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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How did "dispose" semantically shift from meaning "put apart" 🡺 to "transfer title to property"?

What semantic notions underlie "put apart" 🡺 "a transfer of title to property"? This semantic shift addles me. Why? Because "put apart" feels casual and laid-back! In modern English, "put apart" r...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

76%
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Why does German use the third person plural for the second person polite?

German has three sets of pronouns for the second person: the familiar singular (du), the familiar plural (ihr), and the polite singular or plural (Sie). The polite form is identical with the third ...

2 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by Keelan‭

37%
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Why did linguists impute Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task" 🡺 to PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"?

What semantic notions underlie Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task," 🢂 with PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"? How do they semantically appertain each other? I quote from...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 5mo ago by PSTH‭

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+0 −3
How did commeātus semantically shift from meaning "passage" 🢂 to "leave of absence"?

What semantic notions underlie meaning 1 ("The act of coming and going") 🡺 with 5 ("Leave of absence)? Please fill in the gaps, and show the steps, between meanings 1-4 and 5? The Oxford Latin Dict...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
How did mittō (to send) semantically shift 🢂 in Vulgar Latin 🡺 to mean "put"?

Wiktionary allegates that, for the Latin mittō (“to send”), The semantic shift from "send" to "put" probably occurred in Vulgar Latin. What semantic notions underlie "send" and "put"? I can'...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 5mo ago by PSTH‭

25%
+0 −4
What semantic notions underlie “to exchange” (PIE *meyth₂-) 🢂 “to give, bestow” 🡺 “to let go, send” (Proto-Italic *meitō)?

Wiktionary asservates May be for *mītō (with lengthening of the consonant; compare mitāt), from Proto-Italic *meitō, from Proto-Indo-European *meyth₂- (“to exchange”), an extension of the root...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭

77%
+5 −0
Possessive vs accusative case for nominalized clauses

Consider the following sentences: "She was against his joining the team." "She was against his joining of the team." "She was against him joining the team." Instinctively, the first just so...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by Moshi‭

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How did « re » + « partir » compound to 🡲 "repartee", which means "rejoinder"?

In French, « partir » means "to (de)part". What semantic notions underlie « re » + « partir » 🡺 with the 2020 AD English meaning of repartee (i.e. riposting))? (de)parting and replying don't see...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 5mo ago by PSTH‭

37%
+1 −3
How did 'videlicet' (it's permissible to see) semantically shift 🢂 to signify 'to wit, namely'?

How did meaning 1 beneath semantically shift to 2? How does seeing or sight 🡲 semantically appertain to wit or knowledge? viz. 1530s, abbreviation of videlicet [2.] "that is to say, to wit, nam...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 5mo ago by PSTH‭

22%
+0 −5
How did 'to wit' shift (from "to know") 🡺 to mean 'that is to say'?

Unquestionably, "wit" or "knowing" are concepts distinguishable from "saying". Thus how did 'that is to wit' shift 🢂 to denote 'that is to say; namely'? wit Both the noun wit [OE] and the verb...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by gmcgath‭

83%
+8 −0
Why "me too" and not "I too"?

I've been studying German lately, and came across something that sparked my curiosity: The way to say "me too" in German is "ich auch" - that is, "I too". A shallow glance at other Germanic languag...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

30%
+1 −5
How can "in terms of" alone encompass — and substitute — multiple prepositions "at, by, as, or for"?

in terms of. This phrase is commonly used as a substitute for a precise identification of relationship or as a substitute for such prepositions as at, by, as, or for. The phrase is correctly used...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by gmcgath‭

25%
+0 −4
How can fulsome constitute "a case of ironic understatement"?

Pretend that you're Devil's Advocate. 1. How can you possibly contend that fulsome is "a case of ironic understatement"? What's ironic? What's fulsome understating? "fulsome" feels r...

1 answer  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

77%
+5 −0
Has there ever been a situation of perfect bilingualism, without falling in diglossia?

In many places around the world there are different languages that coexist: some people speak one, some the other, and many can speak both. There are as many cases as situations: some of the langu...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by fedorqui‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
Why is "djinn" the plural of "djinni"?

Most reliable sources say that the Arabic-derived "djinni" is a singular word and its plural is "djinn." (Or "jinni" and "jinn," if you prefer.) The dropping of a final letter or syllable to plural...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

60%
+7 −4
What's the difference between "in doing so" and "by doing so"?

As the title mentioned, what's the difference between these two terms? The question has troubled me for some time. Hope somebody can answer me. Thanks!

2 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by sinneddennis‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by gmcgath‭

80%
+6 −0
Where, here, and there: What is the origin, and can it be generalized?

I recently stumbled upon this wikipedia page and it got me thinking. Take a look at the following table (terms are lifted from the Wikipedia page) W (interrogative) H (proximal) T (medial)...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
English dialects and he/she versus it

In normed Finnish language hän (he/she) refers to people, while se (it) refers to non-people. However, in spoken language, at least in many dialects, se is used also for people. (Both hän and se ar...

2 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by tommi‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by Lundin‭

81%
+7 −0
Calling another by name when one is exasperated

In my English-speaking culture, when two people are in conversation, usually we don't bother addressing each other by name—or even by any substitutive term of address, like ‘sir’/‘ma'am’ (formal) o...

1 answer  ·  posted 8mo ago by r~~‭  ·  last activity 7mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

28%
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How does 'contango' semantically appertain to (1) 'continue'? (2) Or 'contain' as in Spanish 'contengo'?

I know that in Spanish, contengo is the first person singular conjugation of contener "to contain". I surmise that English transcribed the Spanish /e/ into an "a". Etymonline 1853, "charge made...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 8mo ago by PSTH‭

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Why "sommaren är kommen" rather than "sommaren har kommit" in Swedish?

I have seen the phrase sommaren är kommen. What grammatical form is this and how is it correct? I thought it should rather be sommaren har kommit, for summer har arrived (literally: summer has co...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by gerrit‭  ·  edited 8mo ago by Mithical‭

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What is ทำดีได้อย่าเด่นจะเป็นภัย in Thai?

What is ทำดีได้อย่าเด่นจะเป็นภัย in Thai? I find the structure of this sentence a bit odd. If I break it down: ทำ ดี ได้ This means "Doing good order" (the action of doing good in some contex...

0 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by deleted user

28%
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How did 'in' + 'as' + 'much' (⟶ inasmuch) compound to mean "in an equal or like degree"?

I quote the OED 's etymology for the adverb inasmuch. originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (espe...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did prae + scribere semantically shift from meaning "write before" ⟶ "a title or right acquired through long use or uninterrupted possession"?

I grok that prae- + scribere ⟶ praescribere literally meant write before. But what semantic notions underlie write before with a title or right acquired through long use or uninterrupted possession...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by PSTH‭

71%
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What does the letter do ৡ in Bangla?

There are 14 অ বর্গীয় (O borgiyo) letters in Bengali. But couldn't find out in book what they are. I know that there are 11 vowel letters in Bengali. But while looking for অ বর্গীয়, I just found th...

1 answer  ·  posted 9mo ago by deleted user  ·  last activity 9mo ago by deleted user

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How did (the cross-linguistic univerbation) 'nothing/not/none/no + less' semantically shift to mean 'despite'?

Several West European languages, most spoken in 2022, feature cognate adverbs with the meaning of ''nevertheless' by univerbating "nothing/not/none/no" +"less". What semantic notions underlie...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by PSTH‭

33%
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How did 'ad-' + 'rogare' compound to mean 'to make great claims about oneself'?

What does the prefix ad- semantically mean here? How did the compounding of ad- + rogare yield 'to make great claims about oneself' and "to claim for oneself, assume"? What semantic n...

1 answer  ·  posted 9mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by dsr‭

84%
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Why did the letter K survive in Latin, though it was rarely used?

In classical Latin, the letter C is pronounced like K. Hardly any words use the latter K; even imports from Greek turned kappa into C. A handful of words, such as "kalendae," held onto their K. In...

1 answer  ·  posted 10mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by Moshi‭

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What semantic notions underlie the legal meaning of 'vest' — with its original meanings of 'robe', 'gown'? [duplicate]

How does the legal meaning of 'vest' (quoted first below) semantically appertain to its original lay meanings of 'robe', 'gown' (quoted second)? VESTING the satisfaction of all the requirements...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  closed as duplicate 9mo ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How did 'security' semantically shift to signify 'tradable financial asset'?

What semantic notions underlie the Latinate meanings of 'security' (quoting Etymonline first) mid-15c., "condition of being secure," from Latin securitas, from securus "free from care" (see secu...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by dsr‭

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How does the semantic notion of “in defiance of” signify “notwithstanding”?

The semantic notion of “in defiance of” feels unrelated to “notwithstanding”! What underlies or relates these semantic notions? This question appertains to all languages that founds this conjuncti...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by PSTH‭

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+4 −0
Why did the Tironian et survive in Irish, when it died out everywhere else?

The Tironian et was a scribal abbreviation for the Latin word et; it was used for centuries across Europe, but finally died out and was replaced with &amp; in almost all languages. The exception wa...

1 answer  ·  posted 10mo ago by TRiG‭  ·  last activity 10mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

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What semantic notions underlie "pull, drag" (in tractō) 🡒 "negotiate, bargain" (in 'treat')?

Etymonline below blazons the sense of "negotiate, bargain" in treat. Please see the green line for the sense of "pull, drag" from tractō. I added the red lines beside 8(b) and 9, because these sen...

1 answer  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 11mo ago by PSTH‭

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