Pedant.

It occurred to me I didn’t know where pedant was from, and it turns out I’m not the only one. OED (updated September 2005):

Etymology: < Middle French pedante, pedant, French pédant schoolmaster (1558), someone who shows off his learning, pedant (1561, 1653 as adjective) or its etymon Italian pedante teacher, schoolmaster (mid 15th cent.), pedant (1524), of uncertain origin, perhaps alteration of either pedagogo pedagogue n. or post-classical Latin paedagogant-, paedagogans, present participle of paedagogare to act as pedagogue, to teach (in an undated text in Du Cange), perhaps by association Italian †pedante foot-soldier, pedestrian (see pedanty n.2). Compare Spanish pedante schoolmaster (late 16th or early 17th cent.), pedant (first half of the 17th cent.).

It first meant ‘schoolmaster’ (a1586 Sir P. Sidney Arcadia iii. i. f. 247v Unto Cupid that boy shall a Pedante be found?) but quickly developed the modern sense of “A person who excessively reveres or parades academic learning or technical knowledge, often without discrimination or practical judgement” (a1593 C. Marlowe Edward II sig. D3v I am none of these common pedants I, That cannot speake without propterea quod). It’s one of those words you’d expect to have a clear etymology, but not so.

Comments

  1. Bathrobe says:

    For some reason I always thought there was a connection with pedophile.

  2. AJP Crown says:

    I can’t get into my OED any more thanks to OS Catalina but usher is the old word that I know for a schoolmaster.* Wikipedia says usher is a deputy headmaster – that’s possibly a misunderstanding. I hope I’m right; I’ve no OED to check it.

    *My tutor at school used to say occasionally “I’m just a poor usher” and he knew what he was talking about in every sense.

  3. PlasticPaddy says:

    French wiktionnaire has this as an alternative to the pedagogy etymology…
    “soit[2], participe présent substantivé et adjectivé d’un latin vulgaire *pedare, du grec παιδεύω, paideuô (« éduquer »).”

  4. @AJP Crown: The OED has:

    4. a. An assistant to a schoolmaster or head-teacher; an under-master, assistant-master. Now rare. Also in figurative context.
    b. transferred. A teacher or preceptor acting under another. Obsolete.
    c. = provost n. 7. [An assistant fencing-master. Now historical.]

    All three senses are first attested in the first half of the sixteenth century.

  5. John Cowan says:

    Pedophile and pedagogue are both derived from παῖς (gen. παιδός) ‘child’. Both types of people have to do with children, but hopefully not the same things.

  6. Here in the DC area around this time of year, we get very excited about peduncle elongation, the fourth of six stages in the emergence of the cherry blossoms.

    This has nothing to do with pedants or pedagogues or pedophiles, still less with ushers, but it’s a funny word that the TV newspeople have fun saying.

  7. Stu Clayton says:

    Peduncle has everything to do with pedaunt !! The etymology is now clear. It’s a family affair.

  8. AJP Crown says:

    Thanks, Brett. I like ‘assistant fencing-master’ – when your fencing master had assistants – those were the days.

  9. PlasticPaddy says:

    @stu
    Do not forget (with slavic suffix) der Pedell and (with 2nd slavic suffix) his mode of transport, das Pedelec!

  10. David Marjanović says:

    I couldn’t forget those because I never knew them… what do they mean?

  11. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dm
    Der Pedell (sometimes Bedell) was a school administrative official, I suppose something between a porter/janitor and a clerk. Das Pedelec is a kind of e-bike (the kind you can either pedal or use the motor, I forget the English word at the moment).

  12. WP:

    Der Begriff Pedell wird auf das spätmittelhochdeutsche pedel, pedele oder bedelle zurückgeführt, was soviel heißt wie Hausmeister einer (Hoch)-Schule, sowie auf das frühneuhochdeutsche bedell oder pedell, was hier Gerichtsbote (einer Universität), Universitätsbote oder Universitätsdiener heißt. Den Ausgang nahm der Begriff aus dem gleichbedeutendenden mittellateinischen pedellus oder bedellus, welcher vermutlich die Latinisierung eines germanischen Wortes war, denn das althochdeutsche Wort bitil ist bereits im 11. Jahrhundert nachweisbar und der altenglische Begriff bedul beziehungsweise altnordische Begriff biðill bedeutet, wie der althochdeutsche Begriff, so viel wie Bittsteller.[1] Möglicherweise kam es im Laufe der Zeit zudem zu einer Vermischung mit Büttel.[2]

  13. OED s.v. beadle (entry not fully updated since 1887):

    Etymology: Originally Old English bydel (= Middle Dutch *bödel, Dutch beul, Old High German butil, Middle High German bütel, German büttel) < Old Germanic *budilo-z, derivative of biud-an, in Old English béodan, Old High German biotan to offer, present, deliver, announce, command. Some form of the Germanic was adopted in Romanic: compare Italian bidello, Provençal bedel, Spanish bedel, Old French bedel, French bédeau, medieval Latin bidellus, bedellus; and in Middle English the French form bedel gradually superseded the native bydel. The ordinary modern spelling is beadle, but the archaic forms beadel, bedel, bedell, are in use in specific senses.

  14. I forget the English word at the moment

    And what do you do when you “forget” an English word? You borrow! And pedelec seems to be a blend of ped- and -elec, no suffixes.

  15. bödel

    Contents
    1 Swedish
    1.1 Etymology
    1.2 Pronunciation
    1.3 Noun
    1.4 References
    Swedish
    Etymology
    From Middle Low German bodel, from Proto-Germanic *budilaz.

    Pronunciation
    IPA(key): /bøːˈdɛl/

    Noun
    bödel c

    executioner, kettle

  16. Stu Clayton says:

    executioner, kettle

    A bottle of Beadle’s is always welcome.

  17. AJP Crown says:

    Fuhlsbüttel is Hamburg airport.

  18. Foolsbeadle.

  19. AJP Crown says:

    There are a lot of beadles in Dickens, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Here’s a quick one. And Nicholas Nickleby becomes an usher at Dotheboys Hall, btw.

  20. Do-the-boys, eh?

  21. Stu Clayton says:

    Yes, in those days, or at least by Dickens’ intent, meaning “give them a rough time”.

    One was not openly on the eager lookout for insinuations of “pedophilia”, in those days. Boy Scouts had yet to be invented.

    At any rate, today even butt-fucking loses its interest after 50 years of practice. This may seem hard to believe if one is on the outside looking eagerly in.

  22. Stu Clayton says:

    Here’s a quick one.

    Gosh, I hadn’t quite realized that he wrote a slew of short stories ! I’ll have to get them. From your link I find “Kindle” editions, and only one book. This is a “large print” edition, it says. I’ve become wary of that. A number of publishers have sent me these outsize books in large print for children and grannies, when they were not advertised as such. I have no shelf space for such dimensions.

  23. AJP Crown says:

    Even in #4 reading specs and with my excellent bedside lamp 1″ from the page I sometimes have difficulty seeing the print nowadays. The larger the better.

  24. Stu Clayton says:

    I have no beef with large print “as such”, but I do with the unavoidable effects of it. Either the books become tall and wide to accommodate the same number of words per page as in standard formats. Or they become thick when there are fewer words per page, since more pages are needed.

    For months I’ve been looking for really bright lamps to help my own sight. They don’t make them any more – there’s only a choice between halogen and LED. The former are wasteful, they get hot and lose their brightness within 2 months. The latter are too dim in their standard commercial forms.

    Recently I stepped inside a very upmarket light fixture store. I found fabulous Swedish lamps with two teeny tiny LEDs, each brighter than a thousand suns. You dimmed up and down by waving a hand around. The shafts were thin and unassuming, the “sockets” were two small flat dinky discs like Mickey Mouse ears. The cheapest was 1300 Euros.

  25. You know, if you’d give up your unreasonable refusal to join the 21st century and try an e-reader, you could not only get all those stories free-for-nothin’ but change the size to whatever suits you. Just saying.

  26. Stu Clayton says:

    I’m already in the 22nd century, bud, as far as Advanced Thinking is concerned. I would only burn my kindle at both ends. Books keep my feet on the ground.

  27. I understand the philosophical grumpiness, but when you can’t read what you want to read, it’s wise to compromise. If the Kindle offend thee, you can read e-books on all sorts of things, including smartphones (that’s what my brother does).

  28. Since I’m dealing with macular degeneration, I know LEDs are to be avoided. And even coils (I refuse to call them ‘bulbs’) reflecting off a pair of pages burn the maculae slightly though not as badly as daylight.
    Bring back incandescence, I say!

  29. Perhaps the glow from a white dwarf would be soothing (half-hour mind-boggling video about time and the universe).

  30. John Cowan says:

    (I refuse to call them ‘bulbs’)

    Do you also insist that you are not dialing your phone?

  31. David Eddyshaw says:

    Since I’m dealing with macular degeneration, I know LEDs are to be avoided. And even coils (I refuse to call them ‘bulbs’) reflecting off a pair of pages burn the maculae slightly though not as badly as daylight.

    My own feeling (nobody really knows anything in this area, and I should know, because I’m paid to know) is that

    (a) you’re dealing with a lifetime‘s worth of cumulative damage, so that avoiding bright light late in life is probably not going to make much odds.

    (b) sunlight is vastly more energetic than any artificial light used for human beings to see by, anyway

    (c) as much light gets into your eye when you’re staring vacantly into space as when you’re reading or watching television (God forbid, damages the brain), so you might as well be doing something enjoyable with your eyes unless you’re planning to keep them shut all the time and/or live in a coal cellar.

    (d) use it while you’ve still got it

    About the only thing you can change (too late to pick different parents) which has been unequivocally shown to make a significant difference is to stop smoking, but I don’t expect any Hatters do. Apart from the Russians, of course. I understand that. I am culturally aware.

  32. AJP Crown says:

    Next month, assuming they’re not too busy, I’m having a cataract removed and a plastic lens inserted. Sensibly they do one at a time, in case you go blind. The Norwegian ophthalmologist – he speaks no African languages, I’ve asked, but very good English (my Norwegian broke down over a couple of technicalities) – wanted me to choose reading glasses or driving glasses afterwards. I said reading, but I was disappointed that I’ll still need any. My mother didn’t. She had this operation more than 30 years ago. The eye surgeon was a former pro tennis player who’d had one of the world’s first sex-changes. This was in New York, a very nice woman, she said. Quite famous, like Jan Morris. I don’t think linguistics came up. The lenses were supposed to last 30 years, but they’re still fine.

    My bedside light has a bulb (a lamp, if you’d prefer) from Ikea that changes warmth and brightness at the touch of a button and will outlast me. The fixture looks like this.

    I’ll think about the Kindle, you make some good points, Language.

  33. David Eddyshaw says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9e_Richards

    Where we lead, the masses follow.

  34. It was the cataract surgeon that showed me the macular degeneration.

    I’m still reading. A bookworm since I was five, I can’t stop. And I was told that people learn to read with peripheral vision. I wonder if they relearn to cook, too. Prep work may be iffy.

  35. Stu Clayton says:

    About the only thing you can change (too late to pick different parents) which has been unequivocally shown to make a significant difference is to stop smoking, but I don’t expect any Hatters do.

    I assume you mean “I don’t expect any Hatters do stop smoking”. That covers those who can’t because they don’t, as well as those who don’t because they won’t, as in my case.

  36. AJP Crown says:

    Renée Richards. Of course. My mother liked her a lot and threw away her pebble glasses (her own not Renée’s). No well-known architects have changed sex yet but one might be a help in the perpetual discussion of the comparative size of public toilets.

    I’m sorry about the macular degeneration. I had a similar problem that’s been more or less completely cured over about 5 years by steroid eye injections, but I expect you know about that treatment, iakon. My wife, an artist, uses peripheral vision a lot. You improvise with what’s available.

    Stu, you and David Hockney will be the last men standing & smoking. I quit (but I wanted to).

  37. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Richards named her female persona “Renée”, which is French for “reborn”.

    I don’t usually object to copulae, but the sin it here tries to hide is egregious. Or maybe it’s French. (TIL that Renatus is just plain Latin, but I’d be muchly surprised if the meaning is present in the mind of a French person hearing René or Renée as names).

  38. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Stu:

    For the purposes of this exercise, you are an honorary Russian.

  39. PlasticPaddy says:

    @lars
    Italian Wikipedia lists 7 saint’s days for Renato and includes this tidbit:
    “Renato è il nome della scimmia di Adriano Celentano nel film Bingo Bongo.”
    Scimmia = monkey (probably chimpanzee here, but I have not seen the film).

  40. David Marjanović says:

    coils (I refuse to call them ‘bulbs’)

    Only one of mine is coiled 🙂

    I’d be muchly surprised if the meaning is present in the mind of a French person hearing René or Renée as names

    Well, the way to say “reborn” in French remains rené(e). I bet the name is at least as transparent as all the Germanic Wolf-/-ulf names, and more transparent than Adolf, Rudolf (which starts with a cran morpheme) or Rolf.

    Wolfgang is transparently “wolf gait” in modern German. I don’t know if the noun “gait” was originally intended, though.

  41. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Transparent is one thing. Names are opaque tokens, they have referents, not meanings. Do you think of a big guy with a hammer when you see the name Joe Smith?

    I was trying to find what the modern phrasing is in the French Lutheran baptismal rite (if that is a unitary thing) where ours has genfødt ved Helligånden. ?rené par le Saint-Esprit gets a hit from the 17th…

  42. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Both miniature fluorescents and those finger-burning halogen/tungsten incandescents have been thoroughly obsoleted by the price collapse and spectrum improvements of LEDs. Not to speak of the evil color-eating mercury street lights.

    If you have anything that isn’t LED, save yourself some money and switch. Unless the socket is really weird. Phillips even make LED PL-S tubes for Crown’s T88 now (G23 socket).

  43. January First-of-May says:

    Transparent is one thing. Names are opaque tokens, they have referents, not meanings.

    As Chukovsky, I think, pointed out, approximately nobody thinks of a fat lion when they see “Lev Tolstoy”, even though this is fairly transparently what the name means.

    EDIT: not Chukovsky, but (the older) Uspensky.

  44. John Cowan says:

    Contra Frege, names do have at least partial meanings: Fido partially means ‘dog’, and Velma partially means ‘female’.

    I don’t think French Lutherans are a thing: Huguenots have Reformed theology.

  45. Stu Clayton says:

    It is known that Huguenot is a Frenchified form of Eidgenosse ?

  46. David Eddyshaw says:

    Names are opaque tokens

    In so far as they are (personal) names (as opposed to sobriquets) this is true pretty much by definition; the degree to which personal names are actually semantically opaque is extremely culture-bound though. Our own culture is a pretty extreme outlier.

    Native Kusaal names are almost all common nouns, adjectives or phrases preceded by the personifier particle A. Their meanings are entirely transparent (though you often have to know non-trivial things about the culture to understand why anybody would call a child that.) Moreover, the meanings are never arbitrary: they relate to something like birth circumstances or the particular arrangements made by the family to keep the child from supernatural (to our way of thinking) dangers. Thus you may be able to tell from someone’s name that he was born with a caul, or is the sole survivor of twins, or was the first live child after a series of stillbirths, or that he is under the protection of one of his mother’s ancestors. Or that he’s a girl, even.

  47. Yes, it’s hard for Americans and Europeans to keep in mind the peculiarity of their opaque names by the standards of most of the world.

  48. David Eddyshaw says:

    JC’s point is good: purely referential names are a mathematical abstraction. Even in our culture, you can make good guesses about some characteristics of people based on their names.

    [I shall now perform my well-loved rendering of “A Boy Named Sue” fortissimo to brighten the wretched lives of my self-isolated neighbours.]

    I met exactly one Christian Muhammad in Africa. He got fed up with people asking him when he was going to change his name.

  49. A good deal of Ukrainian surnames come from nicknames and are pretty transparent. But it seems (based on an infallible example of 1) that there is a special mental space for names and they are not processed like ordinary words. I just remember that a certain guy is called Zvychajnyj (usual) and don’t recall (professionals call it actuate, if I’ve got it right) the meaning of the ordinary word when thinking about the guy.

  50. AJP Crown says:

    Phillips even make LED PL-S tubes for Crown’s T88 now (G23 socket).

    (Caution: Bourgeois conversation.) I tried the colourful Phillips ones in the hall but removed them because you adjust them with your mobile phone and I read that led to someone hacking people’s debit card numbers.

  51. If the virus don’t get you, the hackers will.

  52. David Eddyshaw says:

    @D.O.

    Also a very good point. And I’ve no doubt that despite the fact that the Kusaal name A-Fuug “Afugu” actually tells you that its bearer was born with a caul, when people hear the name A-Fuug, they think “Afugu”, not “That person who was born with a caul.”

    Of course, in Kusaal, there’s an actual particle to mark the difference, too: although the situation is complicated by the fact that the particle A isn’t confined to forming personal names: you see it often in constructions like

    A-nyɛ nɛ nif sɔn’ɔ A-wʋm tʋba.
    PERS-see with eye:SG be.better.than PERS-hear ear:PL
    “Saw-with-eye beats Heard-with-ears.” (i.e. Seeing is believing.)

  53. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I didn’t see mobile-enabled PL-S form factor things in my comprehensive 8-minute search of the Internet shopping universe. Which is not to say they don’t exist.

  54. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Most of the compatibles have a sort of fused build which only a Chinese designer of fakes could love. I’m dumping 8 euro(s) on the Dutch originals.

    (Corona-induced(?) 1-link occupancy per post seems to have been imposed on my suspect ID).

  55. Lars Mathiesen says:

    The question now is where to get a replacement for the little clear plastic clip that is broken because of non-LED heat and makes the thing all wibbly.

  56. I am absolutely stealing “seeing with eyes beats hearing with ears”.

  57. I live in subsidized housing, so the power company marched in when I wasn’t there and put in coils where they could and took off with the bulbs, except those in globes.
    I don’t have a mobile phone, but I think of punching my ‘fijo’, with fingertip.
    As for living in the past, I do, in all its many millennia, although the last century is hardly worth revisiting. I also live in the present, by being present and trying to control the monkey-mind, and trying to follow this pandemic, and also following the current age of exploration, of the solar system, and other sciences.

  58. Trond Engen says:

    Lars M.: I was trying to find what the modern phrasing is in the French Lutheran baptismal rite (if that is a unitary thing) where ours has genfødt ved Helligånden. ?rené par le Saint-Esprit gets a hit from the 17th…

    John C.:I don’t think French Lutherans are a thing: Huguenots have Reformed theology.

    I happen to have a sister who was married in the L’Eglise Protestante Unie Saint-Etienne du Perreux (“De tradition luthérienne, elle fait partie de l’Eglise Protestant Unie de France.”).

    She also happens to have four sons, one of which was baptized in the same church. I wasn’t able to go there for that, but I have asked my sister if she has a copy floating around.

    Interestingly, Heligånden is a definite adjective-noun compund, which is prototypically Northern Scandinavian — more common the further north you go in both Norway and Sweden.

    Norwegian has den Hellige Ånd, which is Dano-Norwegian in lacking the suffixed definite article, Even Nynorsk usually has den Heilage Ande rather than Heilaganden.

    Swedish, as far as I know (which isn’t very far), prefers den Helige Ande for official liturgic use, but also hasden Helige Anden and Heliganden.

  59. Ånd is interesting; there’s an OE word entered in the OED as onde “Strong feeling against a person, animus; spite, hatred, envy. In early use also: fear, terror” (Third Edition, June 2004):

    Etymology: Cognate with Old Dutch ando zeal, anger, annoyance (Middle Dutch ande, hande zeal, anger, annoyance), Old Saxon ando hurt, insult, anger, frustration (Middle Low German ande), Old High German anado, ando, anto hurt, insult, envy, punishment (Middle High German ande, ant zeal, anger, annoyance); probably further cognate with Old Icelandic andi, önd breath (> aynd n.), ultimately < the same Indo-European base as classical Latin animus mind (see animus n.). Compare orth n.

  60. Orth (“Breath, breathing”):

    Etymology: < the Germanic base of or- prefix [Frequent in Old English, retained in a few words in Middle English, now only traceable in ordeal n., and perhaps ort n., where it is no longer recognized as a significant element] + a variant of the Germanic base of onde n.; compare (without dental suffix) Gothic uz-anan to breathe out, breathe one’s last. Compare also (without prefix) Old English ēðian to breathe (see ethe v.1), ēðung panting. Perhaps compare also Early Irish osnad sigh (Irish osna), Welsh †uchenaid (12th cent.; now ochenaid, after och och int.).

  61. PlasticPaddy says:

    https://www.dwds.de/wb/Heiland
    This says Heiland is an original present participle, so the “and” is a verbal ending there.

  62. Trond Engen says:

    Nynorsk and Swedish ande has the dual meaning breath; spirit. Danish and Bokmål have the doublet ånd “spirit” and ånde “breath”.

    I was going to say that Gothic uz-anan (and Scand. utånde) is a transparent calque of Latin expire, but the Gothic word is probably calqued from Greek, as is the Latin. The metaphorical meaning of “breath” followed the Bible translations.

  63. David Eddyshaw says:

    I am absolutely stealing “seeing with eyes beats hearing with ears”.

    Africa in general does proverbs well. The Kusaasi run rather to the cynical type beloved of peasant farmers everywhere.
    In the spirit of Amazon’s “if you liked X, you may also enjoy Y”:

    Bʋŋ-ban’ad zi’ yɛ teŋ tʋlla.
    Donkey-rider:SG not.know that ground:SG be.hot.
    “The man on the donkey doesn’t know how hot the ground is.”

    which explains itself. Nobody was insensitive enough to use it with reference to me as a highly privileged rich foreigner (not in my hearing, anyway), but I often thought of it. And

    Bʋŋ ya’ bɔɔd yɛ o lubu-f, fʋ pʋ nyɛti o tʋbaa.
    Donkey:SG if want that he throw.off-you, you not see:IPFV his ear:PL.
    “If a donkey feels like throwing you off his back, you won’t be able to find his ears.”
    (i.e. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The proverb naturally adopts the donkey’s POV.)

  64. John Cowan says:

    I think it’s Northrop Frye who says that “The wind bloweth where it listeth [wants to], and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” is a metaphorical translation of John 3:8, and that more literally it ends with “that’s what everyone is like who’s born from the wind.” Both wind and spirit are translations of πνεῦμα. By the way, in Modern Greek all physical senses like ‘breath; wind; life’ are lost: it means only ‘spirit, soul; intellect; humor, joke’. And of course ‘breathing’ as in rough and smooth breathings.

    I’m not sure why Jesus didn’t mention wetting your finger.

    Update: To this myope and prosopagnosic, seeing is definitely not believing, whereas hearing usually is. I generally recognize an actor (or the character they are playing) only when they say something. The other day Gale mistook Michelle Yeoh for Marina Syrtis doing her Counselor Troi accent (the former was narrating a documentary, the latter speaks RP when not acting), but I knew otherwise.

  65. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’m not sure why Jesus didn’t mention wetting your finger.

    I expect it’s in the Gospel of Thomas somewhere.

  66. Bathrobe says:

    He got fed up with people asking him when he was going to change his name.

    Well, did he change it?

    (I would have been less likely to ask this question if you had written ‘He was fed up…’)

  67. David Eddyshaw says:

    No. And good for him!

    I once came across a Brit with the transcendentally ecumenical name of Geoffrey Muhammad, BTW.

  68. Thanks, David!

    In more temperate climates, keeping one’s feet on the ground is supposed to be a good thing. So do Kusaasi use donkey ears as reins?

  69. David Eddyshaw says:

    The ground can indeed get uncomfortably hot (and not everybody has shoes, either.)

    I suppose the proverb actually does imply that keeping your feet on the ground is a good thing, inasmuch as the rich man on the donkey is basically being mocked for being out of touch with uncomfortable realities. A similar sentiment with a different target is

    Balɛrʋgʋ zi’ yɛ o an balɛrʋgɔ, ka tadim mi’ yɛ o an tadim.
    “The ugly man doesn’t know he’s ugly, but the poor man knows he’s poor.”
    (There are limits to self-deception.)

    So do Kusaasi use donkey ears as reins?

    Only in emergencies.

  70. Stu Clayton says:

    This says Heiland is an original present participle

    That helps account for the popularity of the Heilander movies.

  71. Lars Mathiesen says:

    So Da ond adj/onde n = ‘evil/harm’ is a doublet with ånd n/ånde v = ‘spirit/breathe’? Stranger things have happened.

    @Trond, the Helligånden type (definite adjective-noun compound) is totally unremarkable in Danish (storesøsteren, langfingeren, aso). Is it rare in southern No/Sw? But Danish does not allow den hellige ånden, it has to be den hellige ånd. I thought the opposite was a firm rule in Swedish, at least I never noticed instances of the Danish pattern while I lived there.

    Heiland is a red herring, Scandinavian hel(l)ig means ‘holy’ (cognate) not ‘saved’. ‘Saviour’ is frelser/frelsare. Da helende means ‘curative’.

  72. PlasticPaddy says:

    @lars
    Thanks. I thought Heiland was a red herring, and agree that cure, liberate and save can be separated semantically. Knowing the German verbs formed on -ig (besichtigen, beschäftigen, ermächtigen) i am still tempted to parse the Scandinavian word as “one/He who makes safe/healed” but that is just me😊

  73. Lars Mathiesen says:

    This Scandinavian -ig corresponds to German -ich as well (*-gaz).

    Anyway I think the German verbs are derived first as adjectives in -ig and then form prefixed verbs. (At least notionally).

  74. David Marjanović says:

    Heiland is heilend “healing”, but somehow that stopped being obvious a thousand years ago, which is why the unstressed vowel escaped reduction.

    There is a verb heiligen “sanctify, hallow” from heilig “holy, Saint, sacred”.

    (*-gaz)

    No. However, the whole Central and Low German area pronounces -ig as -ich, and that’s codified in the stage pronunciation. This leads to things like the last name Rettig from Rettich “radish” < radix.

  75. Trond Engen says:

    Lars M.: Trond, the Helligånden type (definite adjective-noun compound) is totally unremarkable in Danish (storesøsteren, langfingeren, aso).

    Yes, sorry. What I meant was that I don’t think Danish so easily (anymore) make new compounds of the sort, while Northern (esp. Swedish, but also Norw.) does it all the time in running speech. Æg kjaurd storbiln tel butikken for Bm. Jeg kjørte den store bilen til butikken “I took (lit. drove) the large car to the shop”..

  76. AJP Crown says:

    Danish
    Æg kjaurd storbiln tel butikken
    ENGLISH
    The egg-powered big car phone shop

  77. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    If I _took_ a car to a shop (a park, etc), I think I would have to drag it there on a lead (or maybe more practically push it, or load it on some kind of transporter). You could take it to the garage, but only to have something done to it.

    I don’t know why, because I can take a bus (although I think I would usually ‘get’ it), and you can say to someone ‘Are you going to take the car?’, meaning drive instead of travelling in some other way. But Trond’s translation surprised me!

  78. Yes, I too would have to say “I drove [not “took”] the large car to the shop.”

  79. Trond Engen says:

    There you go. Don’t trust my non-native intuitions.

    (Or as Panu used to say: “Who cares? It’s only English.”)

  80. AJP Crown says:

    I only ever take a cab, I don’t drive one.
    Trust your whatsits. I prefer “I took the large car to the shop” partly because “I drove…” implies that I was the driver. Especially if you have two or more cars “Let’s take the Bentley” is right and “Let’s drive the Bentley” wrong (because only one driver). There’s nothing wrong with it, Trond! It’s sort of an issue for Norwegian – Eng. translation because Nor. is more specific about mode-of-transport verbs (eg. jeg går means ‘I walk’, not ‘I go’, and if you were to gå to the shops you’d be walking all the way).

  81. “I drove…” implies that I was the driver.

    What gives you the impression that that’s not the case?

  82. David Eddyshaw says:

    I certainly can (and usually do) take a car to work; I think Jen is right, though: there is an implicature that I am unathletically not-walking, or ungreenly not-bussing, in putting it like that.

    On the other hand, this may simply arise from the fact that the car is mentioned at all; usually I’d just say that I was going to work.

  83. For me, “take a car” strongly implies it is not my car and I am not driving; if that’s the case, sure, but if I’m driving my car I can’t say it that way.

  84. AJP Crown says:

    What gives you the impression that that’s not the case?

    When Trond wrote

    Jeg kjørte den store bilen til butikken “I took (lit. drove) the large car to the shop”

    there was no implication that Trond was the driver. He kjørte it whether he was the driver or not.

  85. take/drive distinction feels like a transatlantic disagreement. But g-ngrams show only very mild differences.

  86. J.W. Brewer says:

    “I took my car in to the shop for repairs” seems perfectly idiomatic to me and doesn’t imply I wasn’t the one who drove it there. Similarly, in a household with multiple drivers and multiple vehicles it is more idiomatic (for our household at least) to say something like “X took the Honda” rather than “drove away in the Honda” or “is currently driving the Honda” when it’s salient to know which vehicle is currently away from the house v. which vehicle(s) is/are still in the driveway and available for use by someone else. “Take” is a verb of many uses in English, so whether or not it can or will be displaced by a more precise verb like “drive” depends on many factors. And of course “drive” in turn can be used more broadly than just to apply to the action/role of the literal driver him or herself. If I say “we drove up to the Adirondacks last weekend,” the “we” can be everyone that was in the car, whether or not they ever took a turn behind the steering wheel.

  87. Huh, I have Canadian English, ‘took the car’ seems perfectly normal to me. TIL.

  88. “I took my car in to the shop for repairs” seems perfectly idiomatic to me and doesn’t imply I wasn’t the one who drove it there. Similarly, in a household with multiple drivers and multiple vehicles it is more idiomatic (for our household at least) to say something like “X took the Honda” rather than “drove away in the Honda” or “is currently driving the Honda” when it’s salient to know which vehicle is currently away from the house v. which vehicle(s) is/are still in the driveway and available for use by someone else. “Take” is a verb of many uses in English, so whether or not it can or will be displaced by a more precise verb like “drive” depends on many factors. And of course “drive” in turn can be used more broadly than just to apply to the action/role of the literal driver him or herself. If I say “we drove up to the Adirondacks last weekend,” the “we” can be everyone that was in the car, whether or not they ever took a turn behind the steering wheel.

    I agree with all of that, and once again I remind myself to be cautious when making declarations about usage, even my own.

  89. “I met exactly one Christian Muhammad in Africa” — I’ve met Irish Catholics with given name Wesley, but not Calvin or Luther.

    Irish words as female names is a late-20C innovation; common ones include Aisling “vision” and Saoirse “freedom”. I don’t think many L1 speakers have embraced the trend, perhaps in part because they’re too transparent.

  90. Trond Engen says:

    I started a discussion I didn’t expect. Jeg tok bilen til butikken and Jeg kjørte til butikken are both perfectly normal and everyday speech. In both versions you can add that it was the large car, and in the latter that means adding bilen as well. I had no particular reason to pick one version over the other. It was just the example that came to my mind.

    It felt as if ‘drove’ would be more marked in that context in English than kjørte is in Norwegian, so I chose to translate it as took but add the general lexical translation drive in parentheses.

  91. It strikes me that it’s kind of unusual in English to say “drive the car.” If I tell someone I am going to Philadelphia* and they ask how I am getting there, I might say “I’m taking the car” or “I’m driving” but not “I’m driving the car.”

    If someone asks me how I broke my leg, I could say “I drove the car into a ditch.” Or if I’m reminiscing about an old beater I can say “I drove that car until the only thing holding it together was rust.”

    Or I could ask “Who drove the red sports car?”

    *not in these present times, of course.

  92. John Cowan says:

    Or unless you have both a car and a truck, say. It’s just that the direct object of drive is pretty much always car nowadays, so it’s just not worth mentioning. Buses and trains still have drivers too, of course.

  93. In that case I think I’m far more likely to say “I’ll take the car” or “I’ll take the truck.” I don’t know why. Maybe that’s just me.

    ETA: Unless I’m with another person and there are two vehicles to be moved from one place to another. “You drive the car and I’ll drive the truck.” That sounds natural. Weird.

  94. AJP Crown says:

    It was Jen who first remarked, from Edinburgh. Now I wonder whether driving but not taking the car is a Scottish thing. Jen could ask her friends & acquaintances. It’s an ideal opportunity to catch them at home.

  95. Jeg tok bilen til butikken

    What about åka bil?

    Det blev färre som åkte bil i Köpenhamn efter att de byggt sin metro, säger han.

  96. PlasticPaddy says:

    Re take, the verb tóg in Irish has a strong sense of lifting, so there might be a disinclination to use this with a car. Compare the use of lift in English for stealing. I do not really think this has an effect on English usage in Ireland, and even in Irish I would not be surprised to hear tóg here.

  97. AJP Crown says:

    Sw: Det blev färre som åkte bil
    No: Det var færre som kjørte bil

    Went by car. I think (from Google) Swedish åka is ‘to go’? So å gå in Norwegian; and ‘to go by car’ is exactly what you don’t do in Norway. You drive or travel (‘det var færre som reiste med bil’) or something like that that’s more specific than ‘go’.

  98. If I tell someone I am going to Philadelphia* and they ask how I am getting there, I might say “I’m taking the car” or “I’m driving” but not “I’m driving the car.”

    I agree. “I’m driving the car” in that context doesn’t sound like an adult native speaker. It is hard to think of many contexts outside of small children playing where “I’m driving the car” as a stand alone utterance is something a native speaker of American English would produce. If I normally ride a motorcycle and a friend calls me and asks if I am coming over on my bike, I might answer “no, I’m driving the car.” But now am I on my phone while driving. Not good behaviour.

  99. January First-of-May says:

    It is hard to think of many contexts outside of small children playing where “I’m driving the car” as a stand alone utterance is something a native speaker of American English would produce.

    “Do you want some vodka?” “No, I’m driving the car” [= I’m the designated driver] should work, I think, but I’m not exactly a native speaker of English, American or otherwise, so I might be entirely mistaken.

    I agree that it’s an unlikely sentence, though – if anything, it sounds like Effle.

  100. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’d just say “No, I’m driving.”

    This question turns up all the time in ophthalmic outpatient departments, because it’s dangerous to drive when your pupils have been dilated so that the retina can be properly examined, on account of it blurring the vision for some hours.

    Hence, multiple times a day (before putting in the eye drops): “Did you drive here?”

    In Kusaal you ban’ “ride” horses (if you’re a chief), donkeys and bicycles, but you just kɛŋ nɛ lɔr “go with a car”, much as you kɛŋ nɛ nɔba “go with legs” if you’re a poor man.

  101. Trond Engen says:

    åka

    This is a marvelously useful verb in Swedish. both as unmarked as “go” and as specific in meaning as “travel”. An åkare used to be somebody moving something about for a living. These days it’s either a “rider, runner, driver” in winter or motor sports (skidåkare “skier”) or the owner of a transport company.

    The Norw. cognate ake has the very specific meaning “slide by sledge (vel.sim.) on snow”. Aking is “sliding by sledge (vel.sim.)” and hence the sport of luge. An aker is somebody engaged in sliding and hence a luge or bobsleigh athlete.

    *) e.g. in Cornelis Vreeswijk’s song Ballad om Fredrik Åkare och den söta fröken Cecilia Lind.

  102. AJP Crown says:

    I haven’t had the dilated pupil unpleasantness outdoors for a while. I think they use faster- & shorter-acting drops. In the 1980s in NY I needed sunglasses and I couldn’t see to draw for a couple of hours. One clinic here gave me free huge wraparound sunglasses that make me look like Yoko Ono (as far as that’s poss.) Nowadays I drive home, no problem or danger.

  103. David Marjanović says:

    Transparent is one thing. Names are opaque tokens, they have referents, not meanings. Do you think of a big guy with a hammer when you see the name Joe Smith?

    No, but that’s because the name is so common. Consider Rose: a name rarer in English than René is in French, but perhaps not rarer than Renée. It’s rare enough that I, for one, inevitably recall some associations to the real thing.

  104. John Cowan says:

    Here in NYC, of course, the designated driver doesn’t even go out with you, and you pay them at the end of the evening.

  105. PlasticPaddy says:

    @jc
    Do new yorkers not have friends? Or does everyone have to get smashed each time they go out? Even here in Ireland people can take turns getting smashed😊.

  106. Trond Engen says:

    As I understand it, New Yorkers don’t have cars (or at least don’t use them to move around in the city). And that’s a good thing. Traffic is slow enough without them.

    Half-related: Even in my middle-sized Norwegian town, air quality has improved significantly the last week, since people have been working from home and recreational shopping has come to a halt. My wife and I were surprised by the summer night-like feel to the light and the air at sunset the other night. We decided it’s because there was hardly any aurora, and the air felt fresh in a way it usually doesn’t do until near midnight.

  107. Trond Engen says:

    One reason why northern dialects may have a stronger tendency to use adjective-noun compunds is that they also have a tendency to gender agreement in the weak (“definite”) adjective paradigm.

    Trøndersk: han litjen / ho litja / de litj(e) “the li’l’un (m/f/n)”

    I say tendency because it’s not in all adjectives and (no longer) all speakers.

  108. Bathrobe says:

    “Take the car”, “take the bus”, “take the train”, “take the ferry” form a recognisable pattern, that of using these as means of transport to get somewhere (work, holiday, etc).

    “I took my car in to the shop for repairs” seems to belong to a different set of idioms. You might take a truck or tractor in to be repaired, you might equally take a barbecue (or a computer, or a TV set). All of them imply that you were the person getting said object to the repair shop, whether you drove it (car, tractor, or truck) or carried it by some particular means of transport (in your own car, someone else’s car, a train, etc.)

    If I say “we drove up to the Adirondacks last weekend,” the “we” can be everyone that was in the car, whether or not they ever took a turn behind the steering wheel.

    That surely applies to any activity using “we”, which implies group activity. “We killed the snake” could involve only one person’s actions, or cooperation among a number of people.

  109. @Trond Engen: I wish I lived somewhere where one could say, “[T]here was hardly any aurora”—the beautiful northern lights being such an ordinary phenomenon that they can be an outright nuisance. I did actually see the aurora borealis once, but it was not a visually impressive event, just a pale green smudge. It was impressive for another reason though—which was that I was seeing the aurora* in Indiana.

    * On a linguistic note, I observe that I cannot use a pronoun here without it sounding incorrect. The problem is the phenomenon in question—the “aurora borealis” or the “northern lights”—can be construed grammatically as either singular or plural. I had already used both the singular “aurora borealis” and the plural “northern lights,” so whether I tried to use “it” or “them” as a pronoun, it ended up sounding wrong either way.

  110. Trond Engen says:

    Did I write aurora? I didn’t mean that. I meant evening red!

    Aurora is nice, but it doesn’t occur at sunset. And I never see it here at 59°N anyway.

  111. John Cowan says:

    PP, Trune: Yes, exactly. We get ourselves home on the bus, the subway, a yellow cab (pick up on the street, pay by the meter), a black cab (you have to call on the phone and they tell you the price), or a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft or Via. Staten Island (which geographically should be part of New Jersey) is a car culture, however.

  112. Trond Engen says:

    Me: And I never see it here at 59°N anyway.

    This is not completely true, but it’s faint and mostly goes unnoticed. Not like the psychedelic art projects they run at late night slots up north.

  113. AJP Crown says:

    We get it sometimes at our cabin in Gudbrandsdal. Not really psychedelic, more like a big flickering neon 7-Up sign – a lovely unnatural colour (and I think that’s why we all like it). Taking the car, that’s only 4-5 hrs north of Oslo at about 61°38’54.5″N, give or take a millimetre.

  114. Lars Mathiesen says:

    FWIW, Danish is much like English (if I understood correctly): If you tager bilen (for shopping, to work), it implies that you made a choice between the car and something else. Normally you’d køre på arbejde or køre bilen på værksted. (But you plain tager på arbejde eller tager hjem. There are pragmatics here — most people går på arbejde hver dag, but tager bussen på arbejde hver dag, tager ikke på arbejde denne uge; but currently I have a seven minute walk so can only use ).

  115. Lars Mathiesen says:

    In my eleven years in Stockholm I saw the aurora exactly once (59°50’) — electricity is cheap and Swedes like all night lighting, so it’s very rare to be in a dark place under clear skies. People living farther out would regularly post pics of northen lights on the horizon, but that time it was directly overhead. Faint but unmistakeable.

  116. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Per Ringe, *ananą (as a verb) is attested only as a Gothic hapax 𐌿𐌶𐍉𐌽 uz-on (strong preterite 3sg; 𐍉 is always long and merges the reduplication with the root vowel). But the derived nouns establish the root.

Speak Your Mind

*