Posts Tagged ‘English’
English is a mongrel language, it comes from many different places including three Germanic tribes, French, Latin, Greek and now computer speak. I took pause the other day to think about ‘lieu’ and ‘lieutenant’ and to wonder about whether they came from the same word.
I found they do come from the same root meaning place, from the Middle English liue, from Anglo-French liu, lieu, from Latin locus and was first used in the 14th century. With the tenant part coming from the Anglo-French tenir to hold, from Latin tenere. Confused? I was so I googled (love the way a noun has changed to a verb in such a short time) lieutenant and was sidetracked by its pronunciation.
‘Lieutenant’ looks like it should be pronounced the French way ‘loo-ten-ant’ but many English countries pronounce it ‘lef-ten-ant’ and the reason is unclear to me. It appears that the Old French word had a final ‘w’ which was often pronounced ‘f’ by certain areas even if it shouldn’t have been. That sounds like a logical idea and the one I like the most but I found several other thoughts.
1. A common English word for ‘toilet’ is ‘loo’ and they didn’t want to be derogatory towards the officers so they started pronouncing it ‘lef-ten-ant’
2. A deliberate Anglicisation of a French word. The English and French have been at odds for a very long time. When we were intending on travelling from England to France we were told we’d be fine if we mentioned we were Australian.
3. Someone thought it had something to do with Russian and German!
4. The letters ‘v’ and ‘u’ being almost the same in English they were swapped.
5. A mouth injury to a Lieutenant Lefting made it hard for him to pronounce his title and the ‘Leftenant Lefting’ stuck.
6. Noah Webster changed things a bit when he wrote his American dictionary.
7. The lower ranking officer walked on the left side of his senior officer and protected it, giving rise to the ‘left-tenant’.
8. In medieval times when people actually fought their own battles the Lord of the Manor would be in the middle with his Head Knight on his right and his Head Tenant on his left, when the Head Tenant had enough money he paid someone else to fight in his stead making him a ‘left-tenant’.
It’s all very interesting and that’s with only a half hour research. I do wonder how much more rubbish I could find if I took more time. I do love some of the inventiveness of these people. I leave you with a link to the History of English, it seems to be fairly close to what I already knew but I found someone disputing some of it. The joys of the internet.
My book for Teaser Tuesday was Hamlet by Shakespeare, not Hamlet by some unknown person. There’s a reason for this…I’m sure I need a drumroll and someone to pull back the curtain to unveil the reason.
I’m just about to start studying. I don’t have any particular goal in mind. There are two main things I want to study, one being English and the other being business stuff (that’s a technical word for you). I need both of them for the business, I need the English stuff to help me write better blogs and to be able to give you more useless information on my Facebook Fan Page and I need the business stuff to ensure I run a better business. So it was a really hard call which one to do first as I need each of them equally and I didn’t feel I had the capacity to do both at the one time so I mentally tossed a coin and the English won because it costs less.
I’ve enrolled for VCE English Literature Units 3 & 4 and to put that in non-Victorian language, year 12 English Lit i.e. the last year at school before going onto university. It’s only one subject but I’ve got a lot on my plate already and don’t feel I can do more than one class a week, especially as it calls for four to six hours of study a week on top of a three hour class. For me, that’s a big ask so I’ve put the other things on hold for the next couple of years. Next year the choice will be between English Language and business stuff. I don’t know which will be harder.
I’ve enrolled at CAE (Council of Adult Education) in the CBD and I really pity my teacher. I originally enrolled for the Monday afternoon class and went around getting the books from friends with bookshops, I had finally organised to pick up the last book when I had a phone call to tell me the Monday afternoon class was cancelled and would I like to swap to Wednesday evening or Thursday afternoon. I didn’t fancy giving up my op shop shift on Thursday afternoon so that just leaves Wednesday evening. This is where I pity my teacher. I do my best creative work at night when I’m tired, my mouth often opens and speaks before the brain has a chance to say ‘stop’ so I have a suspicion I’m going to be very voluable in class. I do hope she shuts me up and gives the other students a chance.
The books I’m studying this year are:
Freedom of the City by Brian Friel (a play)
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Hamlet by Shakespeare
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
I’d never read any of them before so this is going to be an education. My first class is this evening and I’ve already read Freedom of the City, a very sad story, I’m now in the middle of Hamlet.
All of this hinges on the class actually being on and not being cancelled. I say that as I had a text on my mobile on Monday telling me the class was cancelled. Yes, of course I rang in and spent 12 minutes on the phone trying to make myself understood that I was asking if the Wednesday class was cancelled as well. I think I was told it would still be on but I won’t be certain about it until I get to class and the teacher comes in prepared to teach. So it’s going to be a fun evening, I hope to attend a class but there’s some chance I might get in there and turn around to come home again. If this happens I intend to ask for a refund as I will have missed the first class of English Language and don’t fancy starting late.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking out loud about English on the Pre-loved Books @ Suz’s Space Facebook Fan page. I don’t pretend to be interesting all the time as it’s just various things I’m thinking about and notice in my travels. Sometimes it’s things I’ve pulled out of one of my many books on the English Language while other times it’s something I’ve seen on TV or somewhere on the web.
I sometimes dwell on how English is a mongrel language and has words taken from so many different languages. I also sometimes look at how words change over time. One thing I’ve been doing recently is shortening the word ‘fabulous’ to ‘fabo’, I’ve been doing this in print as well as in speech and today I discovered one friend (Norlin of Baubles, Bubbles and Bags) has started using ‘fabo’. I admit she used it on Twitter and like SMS Twitter reduces a lot of words to their essence.
Here are a few of my musings:
Got a great word for you tonight, it’s ‘bombast’. It’s from the Elizabethan times when men of fashion used to pad their clothes with cotton, tow and other materials, this padding was called ‘bombast’ from the Old French ‘bombace’. It came to be used to describe shallowness of thought dressed up in extra-vagrant and high-sounding language. It’s something politicians use a lot.
Phoneme – the basic units in the sound system of a language. Phonemes come together to form syllables (can is made up of three phonemes) while some phonemes require two letters to represent the sound (for example ‘sh’).
Love some of the old phrases, pity they’re not used so much nowadays. The Goodies were just told to ‘not be so wet’. I haven’t heard that phrase for many years.
Orthography is the art of spelling words correctly. That’s really interesting as I thought it was a science and not an art. Oh well, you live and learn.
In camera comes from the Latin and means in a vault. If a courtcase is held ‘in camera’ then it’s held in the judge’s chambers rather than in the courtroom.
Homophones, nothing to do with being gay. These are words that sound alike but written differently with different meanings i.e. maize & maze.
Maize is corn. You can get corn meal which is actually made from maize or corn meal which is made from wheat so people who have problems with wheat or gluten need to be careful.
Maze is a labyrinth & nothing to do with food unless you get lost in one & end up starving to death.
Anyway, it’d be lovely to have you join me on the Pre-loved Books @ Suz’s Space Facebook Fan page for some fun and games.