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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 101215 times)

Cornelius

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #800 on: 14 Jun 2018, 07:49 »

Hit  ĢynċeĢ swa.

Seems like it's lost some letters, though.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #801 on: 14 Jun 2018, 07:58 »

Maybe its a regional thing but I see it all the time and it just bothers me.  :venonat:
I mean, people use "your" when they should say "you're" all the time, wouldn't this just be an example of that?

Yes, but in a professional setting that doesn't fly and yet "your welcome" does.  :psyduck:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #802 on: 14 Jun 2018, 08:56 »

Shouldn't, though - I'm pretty sure you won't find that usage in any publisher's style manual.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #803 on: 14 Jun 2018, 09:44 »

I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #804 on: 14 Jun 2018, 11:25 »

My impression is that the practice is dying out.

Except possibly among Estate Agents.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #805 on: 14 Jun 2018, 11:51 »

Sometimes I want to be a schwa. 

They're never stressed.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #806 on: 14 Jun 2018, 15:03 »

I'm in Kerry at the moment and it's strange to hear people a whole people speaking English with native fluency but in an accent that is clearly suited to another very different language. Its something you never hear elsewhere from someone non-British who's learned English, no matter how fluent.

Kerry, for the unfamiliar is a deeply rural part of southern Ireland.

Another observation, each Irish county seems to have a different punctuative word. Kerry is "so", Dublin is "like", Mayo is "then". Not sure how they get decided on.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #807 on: 14 Jun 2018, 15:20 »

Is there an English-language term for a style of argumentation that overwhelmingly substitute carefully crafted syllogisms (and/or examination of the topic from multiple POVs) for forceful assertions?

I mean 'it is' - sentences, or worse, their grandiose cousins, the 'they think' - sentences ("argumentatum ad telepathy").

I don't mean 'dogmatic', as that would imply that the assertion is wrong, or only right when viewed through a particularly narrow ideological lense. More of a sort of "advertising department"-style of argumentation.
« Last Edit: 14 Jun 2018, 15:35 by Case »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #808 on: 14 Jun 2018, 16:47 »

Aren't those weasel words?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #809 on: 14 Jun 2018, 17:14 »

Aren't those weasel words?

That doesn't sound like a good description of what I have in mind (well, one could of course question whether what I have in mind has a correspondence in reality) - It's rather 'dogmatic style of speech, but without a dogma'. A dogmatic is someone who is unwilling to even discuss certain tenets they see as fundamental - but those tenets stay the same (barring, of course, the usual human flaws like hypocrisy etc.) - a dogmatic doesn't have a different dogma for every situation.

I mean speech that that resembles dogmatism in it's claim to axiomatic truth, but is unshackled by a set of core tenets - a dogmatist's argumentation is still vulnerable to examination of internal consistency e.g. whether conclusions drawn from one core tenet conflict with another core tenet. I mean a style of speech that is almost exclusively a string of assertions - which may or may not be true, but the speaker hardly ever bothers supporting their assertions with evidence, or striving for internal consistency. Another characteristic is near-total absence of qualifiers, or an acknowledgement of the underlying paradigm - statements are absolute, forceful, with a tendency to sweeping generalizations.

Come to think of it, it seems more like a "you-are-with-me-or-not" speech - you either agree with the assertion, or you're not in the in-group.
« Last Edit: 14 Jun 2018, 17:24 by Case »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #810 on: 14 Jun 2018, 17:53 »

I'm not sure, but I think it is simply known as "argument by assertion."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #811 on: 14 Jun 2018, 18:13 »

I'm not sure, but I think it is simply known as "argument by assertion."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion ?

That sounds like it fits the bill, thanks!

Edit: Ipse Dixit seems to be a related term.
« Last Edit: 14 Jun 2018, 18:22 by Case »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #812 on: 14 Jun 2018, 18:42 »

Ah yep, that's pretty much what I was thinking of.

Thanks for the related link - I was unaware of that expression.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #813 on: 15 Jun 2018, 01:07 »

I'm in Kerry at the moment and it's strange to hear people a whole people speaking English with native fluency but in an accent that is clearly suited to another very different language. Its something you never hear elsewhere from someone non-British who's learned English, no matter how fluent.

Kerry, for the unfamiliar is a deeply rural part of southern Ireland.

Another observation, each Irish county seems to have a different punctuative word. Kerry is "so", Dublin is "like", Mayo is "then". Not sure how they get decided on.

Dundee's is 'ken'.
Glasgow's is 'but'.

But to be honest, I think they are dying away due to an influx of americanisms (prob due to the youtube addiction of "da kids!")

Our youngest used the word 'bathtub' yesterday, a word I can pretty much swear to never having used in normal, everyday speech (it's just plain and simple 'bath' here).
Both me, and his mother, were shocked by this sudden usage and asked where it had come from! (He didn't know)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #814 on: 15 Jun 2018, 08:28 »

I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.

That is one of my biggest peeves.

"Can you set up a meeting between Joe and myself?"

"NO! I can't!! Because ONLY YOU CAN SET UP A MEETING BETWEEN JOE AND YOURSELF!!!"
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #815 on: 16 Jun 2018, 15:54 »

I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.

That is one of my biggest peeves.

"Can you set up a meeting between Joe and myself?"

"NO! I can't!! Because ONLY YOU CAN SET UP A MEETING BETWEEN JOE AND YOURSELF!!!"

Naahhhh ANYONE can set up a meeting with me ! I'm cool about that!  :)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #816 on: 16 Jun 2018, 17:52 »

For me, the most fascinating aspect of the English language is the asymmetries, because they reveal gradients in the way we think. I recently noticed a fascinating asymmetry while writing my Faybles fanfic. You can see it in the "Official Fanfiction Thread", but the tl;dr version is this: the verb "to touch" is singular. We ascribe so much meaning to touch that it has become an all-encompassing metaphor for other sensory inputs. I suspect that touch is atavisticóthat it's so thrilling because it's a sign of danger. Be that as it may, you can see the asymmetry for yourself by noting that there are no equivalent verbs for the other senses.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #817 on: 16 Jun 2018, 21:33 »

Your post about asymmetries reminded me of something I heard once.

"Like the ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation isn't as symmetrical as it first seems."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #818 on: 17 Jun 2018, 03:59 »

Your post about asymmetries reminded me of something I heard once.

"Like the ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation isn't as symmetrical as it first seems."
That is giving me a good chuckle.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #819 on: 17 Jun 2018, 12:48 »

Speaking of people speaking English with native fluency but an accent suited to some completely different language, you should visit Singapore.  There are tens of thousands of native English speakers there ... sort of. 

Singlish is just about as far as something can diverge, I think, without being called a different language.  Unless you're Chinese, and then you can call Russian or French a dialect of Chinese apparently.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #820 on: 03 Jul 2018, 07:03 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #821 on: 04 Jul 2018, 01:15 »

More ESL speakers share their puzzlements

What's wrong with "good" and "food"...? (No: 26)
And No: 32.... come and go? how could they be the same word???
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #822 on: 04 Jul 2018, 03:06 »

"Come home" and "go home" mean the same thing. The only difference is where the speaker is.

To be specific, you could rephrase one as "Bring yourself home, where I also am" and the other as just "bring yourself home". It would be understandable for a non-native speaker to miss that.

And 'good', 'food', 'foot' all have different pronunciations, don't they?
« Last Edit: 04 Jul 2018, 03:50 by LTK »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #823 on: 04 Jul 2018, 04:13 »

"Come home" and "go home" mean the same thing. The only difference is where the speaker is.

To be specific, you could rephrase one as "Bring yourself home, where I also am" and the other as just "bring yourself home". It would be understandable for a non-native speaker to miss that.

And 'good', 'food', 'foot' all have different pronunciations, don't they?


Good and food and foot all sound the same with a Scottish accent!  :)
(Its a long time since my RP lessons, but even using that good and food still 'sound' the same to me. Again, all depends on accent. A M&S advert for example could show a huge difference between Gud and Foow'd)

And you've kinda made my point on 'go' and 'come' being different - they are. Context is all.
The end result go coming home and going home may be the same. But if you are standing in front of someone and say "come home" that means go with them to their own. If you say "Go home" that means go to your own home.
Even if they are the same place, come home (generally)  means go there with that person, "go home" means get away from that person.

(And then there's that odd American (and I think *Irish*) use of "Bring"...)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #824 on: 04 Jul 2018, 06:25 »

One of the things that drives me insane about the Co-Op is that their slogan is 'good with food' which only works if you have a Scot doing the voiceover.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #825 on: 04 Jul 2018, 11:29 »

Or Bristolian but far less appealing.

-------------

Over the past couple of months I've been exposed to the use of "badly" to mean unwell. I think it's a bit South Yorkshire/North Derbyshire dialect, not sure if it proliferates elsewhere.

example:

- How's tha mum been?
- Ooh, not much, she's been took badly while last week.

As it happens, one of my current colleagues has had a habit of throwing sickies, often the day after a major sporting event, Monday mornings and other major causes for drinking. Inevitably, as it rhymes, this has garnered him the nickname of Badly Padley.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #826 on: 05 Jul 2018, 02:41 »

One of the things that drives me insane about the Co-Op is that their slogan is 'good with food' which only works if you have a Scot doing the voiceover.

EVERYTHING works better with a Scot doing the voice-over!

;)

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #827 on: 30 Oct 2018, 05:22 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #828 on: 30 Oct 2018, 06:14 »

While it is true, as the article says, that no important ambiguities result from omitting the apostrophe, I'm not sure that it's true that there are none whatsoever - though in some cases the apostrophe resolves in writing what is not resolved in speech other than by context (distinguishing singular and plural genitives, for instance).  Also, the usage with genitives of names ending in s would be unclear in writing - is the ss at the end of Hodgess or Chriss a double s or an added genitive? Or should it be written Hodgeses or Chrises to make the pronunciation clear? (Note, I do not omit the second s in this situation - I prefer Hodges's to Hodges' because my name is not a plural, though of course some people write Hodge's even though my name is not Hodge.)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #829 on: 14 Nov 2018, 02:07 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #830 on: 17 Nov 2018, 20:21 »


It's kind of funny how the definition of "spooky" has morphed from "strange and frightening" to "fun and halloweeny."

It's also funny that Dutch has always had a word for "fun and halloweeny", griezelig, and English is only now catching up.

The Story of Human Language, John McWhorter on Audible. It has lots of discussion on this kind of shift in meaning and understanding1 over time. It's terrific.2

---

1 How does "to stand under" mean "comprehend" because why, exactly?

2 Not in the older sense of causing terror, of course.

Have any of you heard this series? Extremely informative.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #831 on: 27 Nov 2018, 09:57 »

From an interpretive edition of the Bible, the educational commentary says
Quote
Ephraim is usually located about twelve miles northeast of Jerusalem
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #832 on: 27 Nov 2018, 15:09 »

Wait, is Ephraim the person in that context?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #833 on: 04 Dec 2018, 18:31 »

It was a town.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #834 on: 19 Dec 2018, 08:15 »

5 Brilliant English Words Only Used in North America

I do use rambunctious, ornery(disagreeably stubborn), and discombobulated. I am not familiar with the others.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #835 on: 19 Dec 2018, 10:44 »

Is rambunctious not in the UK as well? Or am I too polluted by American media?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #836 on: 19 Dec 2018, 11:04 »

I definitely am familiar with and have used all five.  They are sort of gradations of meaning, the way 'jump' and 'hop' denote slightly different things. 

'Ornery' (spelled with and pronounced without that first 'r') is a word to describe someone who deliberately makes things difficult or puts obstacles or unpleasant surprises in other peoples' way, usually for humor but also if it's a passive-aggressive way to try to get people to do things differently.  Two people think you use too much sugar at the table.  The reasonable one tells you it's bad for you; the ornery one fills the sugar bowl with salt one morning.  'Disagreeably stubborn' sort of misses the nuance.  From the midwest.

'Discombobulated' describes someone who's not capable of acting as they normally would because they're under emotional stress - usually surprised, confused, or bewildered. 

'Rambunctious' ... brings to mind images of bouncy half-grown kittens.  When we old pharts see young kids playing tag, and nod sagely and think to ourselves, 'it's amazing how much mature wisdom is like being too tired', it's usually because the kids are being rambunctious.  Energetically playful, maybe.

'Conniption' was certainly used by either sex about anyone when I was a kid.  'Tantrum' is a reasonable render, but we would have used 'tantrum' for an actual child and 'conniption' for an adult acting childish. 

'Copacetic' is not just "okay" or "fine", it's "okay but we sure didn't expect it to be okay," or "okay and that's a great relief" or "okay and that's a cause for jubiliation" or "that thing we never really admitted to ourselves that we thought wouldn't work, actually worked, so now we're going to feel relieved and smug and we'll probably never really admit to ourselves why...." 


"forty third president Thomas Whitmore?"  I'm sure that's a joke but I don't get it.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #837 on: 19 Dec 2018, 11:19 »

"forty third president Thomas Whitmore?"  I'm sure that's a joke but I don't get it.
Its just the president in the movie Independence Day who gave a grand speech.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #838 on: 19 Dec 2018, 11:26 »

Is rambunctious not in the UK as well? Or am I too polluted by American media?

To be it seems like a version of the older British word: rumbustious.  The OED doesn't offer a positive link between them, though.

Of those words I use only discombobulated (though it seems my spell-checker thinks I shouldn't, and the OED labels it as North American).
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #839 on: 22 Jan 2019, 18:01 »

For some reason I started wondering again about the old question of why someone who sews is not called a "sewer".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #840 on: 23 Jan 2019, 02:02 »

My best guess is that in Anglo Saxon, where we have seamere and seamestre, someone was defined not by what they do, but what they make, especially when it is one specific  thing. That would explain the difference between a wheelwright and a woodturner.

At first, I thought it might have something to do with the division of labour in making garments, with the tailor cutting the cloth, and the seamstress putting it together, but that's a distinction that isn't there in Anglo Saxon.

Once you come to Anglo Norman, there's the sewer, as a loanword from Latin via Old French, that's interfering with sewer or sewstress taking the place of seamstress. Aside from which, sewstress seems to sound somewhat awkward.

Looking at Dutch, it seems to have always been some variation of naaister (stem of naaien, to sew, and a female suffix), right down to Old Dutch. So it must have happened somewhere even earlier.
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Morituri

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #841 on: 23 Jan 2019, 09:33 »

I was surprised today to learn that "Ferris wheels" are actually named after someone who built one at the Chicago World's fair in 1893.  They'd existed (earlier, wooden examples) for centuries, but he built a big famous one out of steel, and now they're named after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

All this time, I had supposed they were probably called that because the practice of making them out of steel, which started at the same time, had been a significant upgrade both in safety and size.  The new generation of improved wheels, of course, would have been known as "Ferrous wheels", and the spelling morphed, either for trademark purposes or accidentally or by someone who wanted to take advantage of the marketing hype without being sued for making a false claim, sometime later.

But sometimes the world is logical in ways we don't expect.  No, it was in fact because the guy who did it was named George Ferris.

This is sort of like discovering the patent for flush toilets that was, in fact, issued to one Thomas Crapper.....



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Akima

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #842 on: 23 Jan 2019, 17:13 »

For some reason I started wondering again about the old question of why someone who sews is not called a "sewer".
Sewer has an another meaning, but don't let me drain your enthusiasm.

Of course then there is the question of why sow is pronounced "soh" if it is seeds, but "sow" if it's a female pig, but I don't want to be a boar about it.
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oddtail

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #843 on: 24 Jan 2019, 01:17 »

So, it seems I never actually wrote anything in this thread? I think?

Most things that I found weird about English over the years were not that interesting, I imagine, to most people, because I used to have a very... technical interest in the inner workings of the language and those are not that immediately fun and bizarre without foreknowledge (or a long-winded explanation).

But, there's one thing that has to do with language evolution and is still bizarre and worth sharing. It continues to completely blow my mind years after I've learnt it.

The words "isle" and "island" are not connected via etymology at all. You might assume that one is derived from the other (shortened for example). You might also assume they are similar because they entered the English language from the same source, at different times and they are different because the first changed by the time the second was borrowed (like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse").

Nope. The words are totally unrelated. Despite the fact that they sound very similar and mean almost the same thing. They are derived from two different langauge groups - and the words they come from are not even similar semantically!

"isle" comes from Latin "insula". The word itself might be etymologically connected with older words for "ocean". A similar word survives in modern English in "peninsula".
"island" comes from proto-Germanic and is historically connected with the same root as the modern word "land" (not surprisingly). It has nothing to do with Latin, with ocean, or the word "isle".

I know this sounds mildly interesting probably, but to me it's utterly crazy and almost incomprehensible - the scale of coincidence in play here. It's like convergent evolution in biology (y'know, how octopus eyes are amazingly similar to mammal eyes, despite evolving completely independently). But in biology, the similarity in form follows similar function. There's a reason for things to look similar. In language, there's no inherent reason for words to sound a certain way.

Two words looking like they are closely related and describing the same concept which are derived from completely different languages *and* words for completely different concepts? I think it's, linguistically, the weirdest thing I've seen, or will see, in my entire life. Certainly in top five.
« Last Edit: 24 Jan 2019, 01:31 by oddtail »
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Akima

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #844 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:09 »

like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse"
The French (cheval), Spanish (caballo), and Italian (cavallo) words for horse all derive from the Latin caballus.
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oddtail

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #845 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:21 »

like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse"
The French (cheval), Spanish (caballo), and Italian (cavallo) words for horse all derive from the Latin caballus.

That's true. Still, same source of both words, unlike "isle" vs "island", which is what I was trying to clumsily convey  :-D
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Cornelius

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #846 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:37 »

I wonder if going a bit further, it might not come back to the same thing after all. Proto Indo-European is reconstructed as *ensla, wich might easily be construed as the same construction your proto-Germanic has, of combining water and land roots. That's just conjecture, though.
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oddtail

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #847 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:41 »

I wonder if going a bit further, it might not come back to the same thing after all. Proto Indo-European is reconstructed as *ensla, wich might easily be construed as the same construction your proto-Germanic has, of combining water and land roots. That's just conjecture, though.

Possibly, but if we go that far back, it becomes near-irrelevant, and the fact that the words that diverged so much ended up sounding almost exactly the same would still be a complete coincidence.
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LTK

Re: English is weird
« Reply #848 on: 24 Jan 2019, 04:38 »

It's not that uncommon, actually. See the wikipedia article on false cognates. Similarly, the colour orange and the Dutch royal family name Orange are completely unrelated etymologically, but as a result we still have orange as our national colour.
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oddtail

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #849 on: 24 Jan 2019, 04:41 »

It's not that uncommon, actually. See the wikipedia article on false cognates.

Thanks for the link, those are pretty fun. Not as extreme examples as isle/island IMO, but fun nonetheless.
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