TEN YEARS OF LANGUAGEHAT: X.

And so we reach the present. I hope everyone has enjoyed the extended wallowing in the LH past as much as I have; I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the excellent people at Insider Hosting, who have kept this blog running smoothly since 2003—just today they saved me from a bandwidth overrun with impressive celerity. And of course many thanks to all of you, sine quibus non. I end with a mise en abyme.
X: 2011-12
Boym on Poshlost. An ever-fascinating concept.
Lipsi. An enjoyable discussion of Kindles, East German dances, and the Beatles.
The Petty Monarchs Within Us. A great quote and an interesting discussion of kinglets, with an excursus on Norwegian.
Barzakh, Hurqalya, Alam al-Mithal. Discussion of those obscure Arabic terms, plus an interesting back-and-forth about science and religion.
What I Think About Hofstadter. Thread features other people’s thoughts about Hofstadter, Wittgenstein, etc., not to mention jamessal’s colloquy with himself.
Der Alte Fritz on the Awful German Language. An enjoyable discussion of languages, verse, and Joseph Beuys.
Moot. From an ambiguous adjective to the vagaries of memory.
Ignorant Blathering at the New Yorker. Storms and tempests in teapots, the queen’s accent, Garrigus Carraig’s new monicker, and human relatedness, inter alia.
Ten Years of Languagehat: X. In which I end with a mise en abyme.

Comments

  1. Garrigus Carraig says:

    Thanks again, Hat, for this splendid archive, and for teaching me the term mise en abyme.

  2. dearieme says:

    There used to be a Church of Humanity: they celebrated a month called Shakespeare which fell in the autumn, between the months of Gutenberg and Descartes.

  3. mise en abyme.
    And here’s the book-length version.
    With a description here.

  4. Thanks again, Hat, for this splendid archive, and for teaching me the term mise en abyme.
    Hear, hear.
    No wonder the Church of Humanity didn’t work out if it had a month named after Descartes. That alone would be enough to put me off joining. I’m thinking of joining the Swedish Church of Kopimism, “whose central dogma is that file sharing is sacred.”

  5. From the Guardian’s Olympics blog:

    LingoWatch: repechage

    After a week of hearing it, I was finally moved to look it up. From the French for “fishing out” or “rescuing”, it refers to a second-chance round for competitors who failed to qualify by a narrow margin in a previous round.

  6. Oh all right, here’s the link, but I’ve shown you the interesting part already.

  7. A fine word—thanks for sharing it.

  8. According to the Concise Oxford, the stress is on the first syllable: REH-pə-shahzh.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    Dépêche-toi! Répêche moi!

  10. Trond Engen says:

    Dépêche-toi! Répêche moi!

  11. According to the Concise Oxford, the stress is on the first syllable: REH-pə-shahzh.
    I expect that’s for Brits only.
    Here’s a site for book owners without Kindles:
    http://bookshelfp*rn.com/
    (Replace the asterisk with an ‘o’)
    And here’s one for those of us who want to know what the person opposite is reading.

  12. And here, nothing to do with anything, is a nice video about a man building a path thingy in the woods.

  13. marie-lucie says:

    The verb is repêcher ‘to fish out (something or someone that fell into the water)’ and the noun le repêchage is (almost) exclusively used for ‘giving a second chance to a candidate to take an exam again’ (with different questions).
    Pêcher means ‘to fish’, and the activity is called la pêche“. ‘To go fishing’ is aller à la pêche.

  14. I expect that’s for Brits only.
    Quite right; I just checked the AHD and we Yanks say reh-pə-SHAZH. (Frankly, I had no idea we said it at all.)

  15. I’ll try to remember this next time I give a student a second chance. Or maybe I’ll reverse the metaphor and call it catch and release.

  16. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: According to the Concise Oxford, the stress is on the first syllable: REH-pə-shahzh. -
    I expect that’s for Brits only.

    LH: we Yanks say reh-pə-SHAZH
    Don’t either of you expect to be understood by a French speaker! That’s what English speakers get for ignoring the French “accents” and as a result, pronouncing and stressing the vowels haphazardly.

  17. Don’t either of you expect to be understood by a French speaker!
    But it’s traditional to mangle the French words when speaking English, m-l.

  18. Trond Engen says:

    I parsed REH-pə-shahzh as *répêchage “fishing out again”. I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone else, but it did to me. Would French speakers appreciate the semantic distinction re-/ré- if I decided to go out and use the word?

  19. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: it’s traditional to mangle the French words when speaking English
    Then you may be understood by other English speakers, but don’t try it if you want to communicate in French with French speakers.
    To be fair, French speakers usually mangle English words while speaking French.
    Trond: I parsed REH-pə-shahzh as *répêchage “fishing out again”. … Would French speakers appreciate the semantic distinction re-/ré-
    They would not, and they would probably not even understand you, especially if you pronounced ê like e, something which is never done in French. There is no semantic difference between ré- and re-, they are variants of each other. The basic prefix is re-, which is normally added to a verb not a noun, and in any case there is no such noun as *pêchage . The variant ré- is used if the basic word begins with a vowel, as in réagir, réinventer, réinstaller, réimprimer, réunir, etc, but it does not have a separate meaning. The word for “to fish out again” would be rerepêcher, and the act of fishing out again would be le rerepêchage.
    There are words beginning with the sequence where this sequence is not a prefix, like réparer ‘to repair’, répondre ‘to answer’ or réussir ‘to succeed’, which are not analyzable into a prefix and a stem. Repondre would indeed analyzable as re-pondre, because pondre exists, it means ‘to lay (eggs)’.

  20. It wouldn’t make much sense to use an English accent if one were speaking French. It can sound pretentious and silly to suddenly assume a French accent in the middle of an English sentence. You can only get away with it if you’re a quite fluent French speaker, which (sadly) most native English-speaking people aren’t these days.

  21. I doubt m-l was seriously suggesting English speakers should attempt a genuine French pronunciation when speaking English; my guess is that she was just using this as an illustration of how English alters words it borrows. (I did find her insistence on it a bit odd, however.)

  22. “Repêchage” is also used in francophone Canada as a sports term (especially in hockey) corresponding to English “draft”.
    As for Marie-Lucie’s emphasis on the difference between the way the word is pronounced in English and in French, I suspect (do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Marie-Lucie) that as a teacher of French in anglophone Canada she sometimes feels a little frustrated by her students’ mangling of French phonology (which often makes their “French” wholly impenetrable to native speakers). That’s certainly how I often feel about it.

  23. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, LH: sorry I did not make myself clear.
    I was not faulting English speakers in general! I am not suggesting that speakers (of any language) attempt a native-like pronunciation of another language while speaking their own (my own pronunciation of English becomes much more French if I use an English word in a French conversation), but I prefer a borrowed word to be a reasonable enough approximation of the original pronunciation to be, recognizable or at least guessable by speakers of the original language of the word, for instance It-alian rather than I-talian.
    The case of the word repechage as used in English is not one of imperfect imitation of a native pronunciation (something to which I would have no objection for obvious reasons), but one of relying on an inadequate written transcription of a word and inventing or rather guessing a pronunciation (or more than one). It seems to me that most of the journalists, sportswriters, coaches or whatever, encountering the word by seeing it in written form, went by the simplified accentless transcription “repechage” and assumed that the first syllable should be pronounced “reh” (as in many words starting with ) and the second one some kind of schwa (the neutral vowel). If they had looked at the actual French spelling, at least some of them would have realized that the middle vowel, not the first, had a definite sound. “Reh-pe-SHAHZH” at least approximates the stress pattern of the French word, but to a French speaker “REH=pe-shahzh” is totally unrecognizable as a French word. Moreover. the initial sequence re, like any sequence of consonant and schwa, is apt to omit the schwa under certain conditions, for instance in “le rpêchage” or “au rpêchage”. English speakers who know the word with initial reh would be hard pressed to recognize the word they know when hearing it under this form from a French speaker.
    As an example of the reverse, Lady Diana was very popular in France, as in many other countries. The media spread the affectionate nickname written Lady Di, which most French people (my mother, for instance, even though she knew how to say “lady”) pronounced “ladidi” on the strength of the spelling. Would most English people readily recognize who was meant?
    As another example, I was about 9 years old when I first encountered the name Shakespeare on the page of a book (and I had probably never heard it either). Having no English at that time, I tried to pronounce it using French spelling conventions since I had no other model, and came up with “sa-kess-pé-AR”. How far would I get in conversation with an English speaker, or listening to a lecture in English about Shakespeare, if I had stuck to my homemade pronunciation of the name?
    The two languages are not spoken in parts of the world very distant from each other, but originally in neighbouring countries in which many if not most citizens receive instruction in each other’s languages, as well as receiving many tourists speaking the other language. Even if French has lost and English gained a lot of ground in other countries, they are still both widely known in many parts of the world. Modern media make it possible to listen to the sounds of hundreds if not thousands of languages. Surely it would be possible for media people to check the pronunciation of English or French words they borrow.
    Update: I thought I should check Wikipedia for pronunciation: repechage is listed as /rɛpɨˈʃɑːʒ/, hardly better than what has been listed here! The Free Dictionary gives something similar but with stress on both the first and the last syllables as stressed. The initial one is /rɛp/, which is better then “reh” as it is shorter and more compatible with the French schwa. But any version which does not stress the last syllable is a gross distortion of the French word.

  24. marie-lucie says:

    Oops: stress on both the first and the last syllables as stressed.
    Poor self-editing! Please omit the last two words.

  25. It is indeed irritating to hear words mispronounced. I get annoyed by the British press’s “Oo-TOYə” for the Norwegian island Utøya, and the general UK-US attitude of “let’s just ignore the O with a cross through it”. I know Language thinks it’s peculiar when Punjab is foreignified as “Poonjahb”.

  26. Oops, that wasn’t a response to you, m-l. I hadn’t seen your post when I wrote mine.

  27. Trond Engen says:

    La Didi?

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Trond, I thought of this interpretation, which was possibly that of functionally illiterate speakers, but it was never written that way in the press, which preserved the English spelling. If anyone tried to teach the English pronunciation, it probably fell on deaf ears.

  29. dearieme says:

    Ahoy, AJP, that stone river path is bonkers. When it’s covered with wet leaves it’ll just become a slire. Unless that’s his intention in which case it’s antibonkers.

  30. If anyone tried to teach the English pronunciation, it probably fell on deaf ears.
    There is a good mnemonic to remind one of why that happens so often: the now untolerated description of deaf people as “deaf and dumb”. If you can’t hear what you are supposed to hear, then you can’t reproduce it. If you can hear what you are supposed to hear, but believe that it is irrelevant, then you won’t reproduce it.
    These musings are brought to you by Americans Learning French Extraterritorially (ALFET):

    † alfet
    [Anglicized form of med.L. alfetum, latinized form of OE. ál-fæt, f. ál burning + fæt vat, vessel (cf. ál-?eweorc tinder), in Laws of Æthelstán.]
    The cauldron used in the ordeal of scalding water.

  31. When it’s covered with wet leaves it’ll just become a slire.
    He sweeps the leaves off with a broom in the video. Someone asked whether it’s handicapped accessible, but I don’t think practicality is his goal. It’s not a path to get from A to B, it’s just a 300 yard length of stone that follows the old rubble walls. You might slip over on it just as you might elsewhere in nature. You should always wear a crash helmet and gloves outdoors, dearie, you know that.

  32. I had assumed he wrote that primarily in order to sneak in the word “slire”. I can’t find it defined anywhere, but have already added it to my active vocabulary. I hope dearie knows what he’s doing.

  33. I agree. It’s Scottish for “leaf porridge”, a traditional late-autumn dish.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    leaf porridge ???
    What kind of leaves is it meade of?
    I have heard of “leaf hay”, winter fodder for cattle made of dried leaves, used in Scandinavian countries, but never “leaf porridge” which is presumably eaten by humans.

  35. SLIRE is a database of literature references including unpublished documents.
    “The database is fed by authors themselves who can characterize thier documents by using thesauruses which are trees of keywords delineated from global themes.
    “Thesauruses perform also as guiding assistant to retrieve documents in addition to conventional search by keywords.
    “Subscription is only required to join in feeding the database.”

  36. m-l, I believe Crown is joking.
    I’m guessing that slire is slair.

  37. I’m quite sure Crown is joking, and specifically having a little fun with Scottish cuisine. (I chuckled.)

  38. Subscription is only required to join in feeding the database
    As at the zoo, where you must pay for the peanuts you wish to toss to the monkeys.
    Of course “feeding” a database is an understandable way to put it. I’ve just never heard or read that word in IT literature, nor is there an equivalent German expression.
    I think of the process as humbly submitting data in 3rd normal to a transaction, which may graciously persist them or refuse. But that’s old-timey – now NOSQL products like Hadoop and MungoDB are all the rage.

  39. Sorry, it was just a joke. Although they do make traditional porridge out of all sorts of things in Norway.

  40. By the way, I hadn’t heard of leaf hay for cattle. That’s quite interesting, I’ll have to find out more.

  41. I used to think of porridge as denoting cooked oatmeal. But OnlEtyDict says that that sense goes back only to 1640, and that the word “porridge” is related to the French word for “leek”, through a word for soup.

  42. Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
    Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
    Some like it hot, some like it cold,
    Some like it in the pot, nine days old

  43. Nine days old
    I once read that frijoles refritos were a way of recycling beans that had stood around for a while. When I asked my sister how long is a while, she wasn’t sure. She imagined that beans (as from a bean soup) would be fried at any time “when they had gotten long in the tooth”.

  44. Porridge < pottage, as in what Esau sold his birthright for.

  45. Porridge
    Oh, yeah, I was too hasty. But supposedly it picked up the
    r from a leek-soup word porreie.
    And porringer also from pottage, influenced by porridge !

  46. marie-lucie says:

    JC: Porridge from pottage
    Yes. The old French word le pottage referred to a kind of thick soup, made mostly of vegetables and/or legumes cooked with water in a pot. Le potage is still used as a more refined word instead of la soupe, especially vegetable soup. Le potage has an even texture, without recognizable bits and pieces as the whole thing has gone through a colander, food mill or blender.
    About Esau, I am not a frequent Bible reader but I think that the English version does not specify what kind of “mess of pottage” he was hungry for. The French translation has un plat de lentilles ‘a dish of lentils’, which is closer to the old meaning of porridge, I think (as in pease porridge, made of cooked dry peas). The Esau article in Wikipedia mentions other Jewish sources that indicate that Jacob was cooking a “lentil stew”, lentils being a food eaten during mourning, because his and Esau’s grandfather Abraham had just died.
    Le potage/la soupe: Not too long ago there were comments to the effect that I always included articles with French nouns, thus indicating their gender. This practice was attributed to a desire to educate anglophone readers, but in fact it did not start out for that reason: I just find it very awkward to mention French nouns without using an article. In English, you say Porridge consists of oats cooked in water or milk …, since porridge as a mass noun does not usually need an article, but I would find it very awkward to say “Potage” consists of vegetables cooked in water and pureed: a French noun usually demands an article, and using The “potage” consists … in an English sentence would not be right in the context of a definition.

  47. The French translation has un plat de lentilles ‘a dish of lentils’, which is closer to the old meaning of porridge . . . The Esau article in Wikipedia mentions other Jewish sources that indicate that Jacob was cooking a “lentil stew”
    Chouraqui’s translation has “un bouillon de lentilles.” The Hebrew has נזיד עדשים nizeed adashim (both words accented on the final syllable). Adashim means lentils in modern Hebrew and, as in English, an adaptation means lens. Nizeed is a bit trickier; it’s no longer commonly used. Klein defines it as “something seethed, pottage [from zeed (to boil)].” At the entry for zeed, Klein gives cognates in Syriac, Arabic and Akkadian.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    Chouraqui’s translation has “un bouillon de lentilles.”
    I don’t know if Chouraqui knows much about cooking, but I have never heard bouillon (‘broth’) used in the context of cooking legumes. Lentil broth, a dish fit to tempt a very hungry man? Le bouillon is the liquid that is left when you remove the solid food which has been cooking in it, leaking nutritious and flavourful elements into the water, but little in the way of calories. This makes broth a suitable food for invalids, as well as a more flavourful substitute for plain water in various recipes. It is typically made with vegetables or meat, excluding legumes like lentils or beans which will absorb a lot of the water in which they are cooked. I think that une soupe aux lentilles might be a better translation, since presumably the hungry man was able to assuage his hunger by eating the lentils rather than just sipping the scanty leftover liquid.

  49. A lentil goes a long way.

  50. Stu, it sounds like you’re looking at the pot aux roses through a rose-colored lens. Or am I tangling my threads?

  51. Paul: The Hebrew has נזיד עדשים nizeed adashim (both words accented on the final syllable). Adashim means lentils in modern Hebrew and, as in English, an adaptation means lens.
    I know no Hebrew, and wondered how Luther dealt with this lentil and porridge business. The German WiPe on Linsengericht sez:

    Hintergrund dieser Bedeutung ist die biblische Erzählung (Gen 25,29–34), derzufolge Jakob, der jüngere Sohn Isaaks, seinem älteren Bruder Esau dessen Erstgeburtsrecht gegen einen Teller Linsen (vermutlich eine Art Dal) abkaufte, als Esau erschöpft von der Jagd heimkehrte. Die Mahlzeit wird im Textabschnitt zunächst nur als „so etwas Rotes“ (הָאָדֹם ha-ādom) bezeichnet, der Ausdruck „Linsengericht“ (hebräisch: נְזיִד עֲדָשׁיִם nəzīd ʕădāšīm) kommt erst im letzten Vers wörtlich vor (Gen 25,34 LUT). Aufgrund der roten Farbe des Gerichtes wird Esau in der nämlichen Bibelstelle als Urvater der Edomiter (אֱדוֹם ědōm) bezeichnet.

    To translate the parts that were new to me: “… dish of lentils (presumably a kind of dal) … In this passage the meal is first referred to merely as ‘something red’. The ‘lentil dish’ expression appears explicitly only in the last verse (Gen 25,34). Because the dish is reddish in color, Esau is referred to in the same passage as the original father of the Edomites (אֱדוֹם ědōm) “.
    Somehow a dal sounds more interesting and tasty then a mess of pottage. If it was an haute-cuisine dal, why not trade in your birthright for it, I say. By the way, can anybody explain to me why dal is sometimes written “dahl” and “dhal” ?

  52. marie-lucie says:

    PO: Adashim means lentils in modern Hebrew and, as in English, an adaptation means lens
    What is this adaptation that lets English ‘lentil’ mean “lens”?
    “Lens” is the Latin word for ‘lentil’, French lentille, itself from the Latin diminutive “lentilla”, lit. ‘little lens’. Une lentille can be either a lentil or a lens, depsnding on the context.
    In the French novel Vingt-mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty-thousand miles under the sea), by Jules Verne, the submarine le Nautilus reaches an island and the people inside go ashore. They want to make a fire and find some driftwood or such, and fortunately the scientist among the passengers happens to have in his pocket a firestarting instrument with which to concentrate the sun’s rays in order to light a fire. I read this book as a child, and much later found an English translation, which turned out to be, let’s say, “interesting” from the linguistic point of view, as it seemed to be written by a French person with very limited knowledge of English. I particularly remember the scene above, where the firestarter in the scientist’s pocket was, you guessed it, a lentil! I realized then why anglophones did not seem to appreciate Jules Verne. (Years later, there was an article in Scientific American by two scientists who intended to retranslate the entire work, and Google lists a number of articles and contributions about the truly awful old translations vs. the much better recent ones).

  53. Just for that exotic look, I imagine. In Hindi it’s just dāl.

  54. marie-lucie: What is this adaptation that lets English ‘lentil’ mean “lens”?
    I may mention that the German Linse can mean either “lentil” or “lens”. The reason is that a lens (at least a convex one) looks like a lentil. Lentils predate lenses in human history.
    So perhaps that biblical expression “see through a glass, darkly” would be more accurately translated as “see through a lentil, not at all”.

  55. where the firestarter in the scientist’s pocket was, you guessed it, a lentil!
    I find that lentils are underestimated in America – not in Germany, though.
    I realized then why anglophones did not seem to appreciate Jules Verne.
    It is a damn shame. I once read Vingt-mille lieues sous les mers and De la Terre à la Lune in French, and was astonished at how much had been simply cut out of the English versions I had read as a kid. One could almost say that Vernes in English is a completely different author.

  56. marie-lucie: from the Latin diminutive “lentilla”, lit. ‘little lens’.
    In my Lateinisch-Deutsch dictionary (Georges), I don’t find lentilla, only lenticula. The introductory material doesn’t make it clear (to me) whether Georges covers medieval Latin.
    In any case, I find that lenses have been known for longer than I thought:

    The word lens comes from the Latin name of the lentil, because a double-convex lens is lentil-shaped. The genus of the lentil plant is Lens, and the most commonly eaten species is Lens culinaris. The lentil plant also gives its name to a geometric figure.
    The oldest lens artifact is the Nimrud lens, which is over three thousand years old, dating back to ancient Assyria. David Brewster proposed that it may have been used as a magnifying glass, or as a burning-glass to start fires by concentrating sunlight. Assyrian craftsmen made intricate engravings, and could have used such a lens in their work. Another early reference to magnification dates back to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 8th century BC, which depict “simple glass meniscal lenses”.
    The earliest written records of lenses date to Ancient Greece, with Aristophanes’ play The Clouds (424 BC) mentioning a burning-glass (a biconvex lens used to focus the sun’s rays to produce fire). Some scholars argue that the archeological evidence indicates that there was widespread use of lenses in antiquity, spanning several millennia. Such lenses were used by artisans for fine work, and for authenticating seal impressions. The writings of Pliny the Elder (23–79) show that burning-glasses were known to the Roman Empire, and mentions what is arguably the earliest written reference to a corrective lens: Nero was said to watch the gladiatorial games using an emerald (presumably concave to correct for myopia, though the reference is vague).[8] Both Pliny and Seneca the Younger (3 BC–65) described the magnifying effect of a glass globe filled with water.

  57. whether Georges covers medieval Latin
    He doesn’t: “… ein unverzichtbares Arbeitsinstrument für alle, die ein berufliches oder privates Interesse an der Kulturgeschichte des römischen Altertums haben”

  58. What is this adaptation that lets English ‘lentil’ mean “lens”?
    “Lens” is the Latin word for ‘lentil’, French lentille, itself from the Latin diminutive “lentilla”, lit. ‘little lens’. Une lentille can be either a lentil or a lens, depsnding on the context.
    {blushes} That’s what happens when in haste I rely on (obviously faulty) memory and neglect the requisite research.
    “‘something red’. . . Because the (lentil) dish is reddish in color, Esau is referred to in the same passage as the original father of the Edomites (אֱדוֹם ědōm)”.
    Adom is Hebrew for red and adama is Hebrew for earth or soil. Dam (better transliterated as dumm) means blood. Klein says the two former come from the latter — the soil in this region has a distinct reddish hue — and offers similar words in Arabic, Ethiopic, Phoenician and Ugaritic. Biblical Adam, of course, was created from soil.
    Klein: “For the connection between אדמה earth and אדם Adam, compare Latin homo ( = man), humanus ( = human), which are related to humus ( = ground, soil).”

  59. marie-lucie says:

    PO: {blushes} That’s what happens when in haste I rely on (obviously faulty) memory and neglect the requisite research.
    My turn to blush! I admit that I made an error in citing from memory “Latin lentilla ‘little lens’”. Of course it is lenticula: Latin words with the feminine diminutive suffix -cula usually end up in French with the ending -ille, as also in abeille ‘bee’ from Late Latin apicula ‘little bee’, compare classical Latin apis ‘bee’ (hence the word apiary).
    Even if the making and use of lenses seems to be of considerable antiquity (thanks Grumbly for the research), it is likely that lenticula meant ‘little lentil’ rather than ‘little lens’: not little compared to other lentils, but simply little because all lentils are little.

  60. I find that lentils are underestimated in America – not in Germany, though.
    Stu, at that distance are you sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of America?

  61. Marie-Lucie: bad example! French ABEILLE does not come directly from Latin: instead, it comes from Provençal ABELHA, which comes from APICULA. The phonology is a give-away: Latin intervocalic /p/ would have yielded /v/, not /b/, in French.
    The Provençal loanword, in turn, entered French because the French local reflex of APIS (actually, the accusative, APEM), /e/, was simply too short to survive as a fully autonomous word. Jules Gilliéron wrote a very nice study on the topic of the history of this particular word.

  62. at that distance are you sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of America?
    Are lentils eaten much in the USA, except by vegetarians ? Do Boy Scouts start campfires with a burning-lentil ? Anyway, it was just a little harmless kvetching on my part.

  63. My mother the German certainly served lentil soup to us quite often, though I don’t eat it much now; I’m not sure why not.
    As a youth, Isaac Asimov had a conversation with his father about their favorite science fiction authors. It took some time for them to figure out that the father’s [ʒylˈvɛʁn] was the same as the son’s [ˈdʒulzˈvɜɪn].

  64. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne: you are right. I remember reading about it, but I had forgotten. In any case the Latin ancestor was apicula, not apis which yielded the discarded French words ève and even ée.
    Question: ève is what is expected, so how did the v disappear in ée ? is that a feature of a particular dialect?
    more lentils : my mother did not make lentil soup but cooked lentils together with a piece of cooked sausage (similar to a kind of Polish sausage). The result was a very hearty dish.

  65. The Provençal loanword, in turn, entered French because the French local reflex of APIS (actually, the accusative, APEM), /e/, was simply too short to survive as a fully autonomous word.
    I love that stuff! That’s the kind of thing that made me want to become a historical linguist.
    Are lentils eaten much in the USA, except by vegetarians ? Do Boy Scouts start campfires with a burning-lentil ? Anyway, it was just a little harmless kvetching on my part.
    No, they’re not, but I’m pretty sure Ø was just looking for an excuse for the pun.

  66. marie-lucie says:

    Ø was just looking for an excuse for the pun.
    Oh, I had missed it!
    So, is pulse the same as legume, or what?

  67. I’m pretty sure Ø was just looking for an excuse for the pun
    Yes. Just as his pun gave me an excuse to ask questions about burning-lentils.

  68. Re dal: Actually, I’ve mostly seen daal.

  69. I think of pulse as a British synonym for legume in the sense of edible seed from something in the pea/bean group. Some people may use it with a narrower application. It’s not really a word I ever use except in puns, although it’s a food group that I use frequently.
    I have the impression that in French legume can refer to other kinds of vegetables outside this group. Is that right?
    his pun gave me an excuse to ask questions about burning-lentils
    It also gave Stu an excuse to make his own pun on vetch, which I overlooked on first reading.
    I didn’t know that vetch is in the pea/bean family. I did know that (one kind of) vetch is also called bird’s-foot trefoil, because we have an old children’s book in our house, The Flowers’ Festival by Elsa Beskow. In it, the poor bird’s-foot trefoil is sad because she doesn’t like the name “vetch”–it sounds like “witch”–and she cheers up when the other flowers decide to call her “Princess Senna”. I never got why she couldn’t just go by “bird’s-foot trefoil”. Also, this is all in English translation, and I always wondered what Swedish wordplay played the role of vetch/witch in the original.

  70. I had imagined that the “dh” in “dhal” was intended to represent one of those fancy retrodentopalato-tonguetip “d”s in which Hindi rejoices. Listening to Indians here in Germany speaking English with those “d”s is one of my favorite pastimes. If only I could figure out how they do it !

  71. I’ve seen the spelling daal as well.

  72. marie-lucie says:

    Ø : I have the impression that in French legume can refer to other kinds of vegetables outside this group. Is that right?
    It is not just your impression: un légume is any kind of vegetable (leafy, rooty, beany, tubery, etc). But beans, peas etc are defined botanically as légumineuses (a fem. word).
    Grumbly: Indians … speaking English with those “d”s …. If only I could figure out how they do it !
    Grumbly, you are an American, so try the following (this will not work for British, French, Spanish and most others).
    Pretend you are going to say “rrr” and try to say “d” instead, being careful to keep the bulk of your tongue in the same position towards the center of your mouth rather than bringing it forward (it will move after the “d”, detaching itself from your palate, unlike with the “rrr” that you can keep going), and you will hear yourself produce the desired sound. (You may have to try more than once, but it will work).

  73. marie-lucie says:

    p.s. I mean the bulk and the tip of your tongue, neither of which should move forward.

  74. Trond Engen says:

    Nobody seems to have noticed that Adam and Eve have turned up here independently. Well, as long as they stay to the legumes and keep away from the fruit.

  75. Marie-Lucie (and others such as our estemmed cyber-host who enjoy these matters): APIS or APEM could not have yielded “ève” anywhere in Northern France: “ève” is an old/dialectal reflex of the word for water, AQUA, subsequently reduced to modern French “eau” /o/: the derivative noun “évier” (sink) still preserves the original /v/.
    Vulgar Latin /ape/ (from the Latin accusative APEM) yielded /abe/, then /ave/, then /av/ (except where a phonotactically unacceptable final consonant cluster would be the result, all final vowels other than /a/ –itself weakened to schwa–were lost), where final /v/ was subsequently devoiced to /f/, while stressed initial open /a/ in Northern France yielded /e/: so, /ef/.
    However, final consonants were unstable on monosyllabic words, especially nouns, because they were absent in the plural: i.e. the phonologically regular reflex of the plural form AVES was /es/ (*/efs/ would have been phonotactically impossible, and thus the /fs/ cluster was reduced to /s/), so that there would have been strong paradigmatic pressure to create a new singular /e/ through back-formation of the plural (since /s/ was the normal plural-marking morpheme), yielding a regular singular /e/, plural /es/ “bee/bees”.
    Conversely, non-etymological consonants could often be added to such monosyllabic nouns, and forms such as /ep/ or /et/ are attested in varieties of Old and Middle French. The latter may have been compounded with “mouche” (fly) to yield a new word for “bee”, MOUCHETTE, which, however, may simply have been a diminutive of MOUCHE. Gilliéron was convinced MOUCHETTE had to be a compound, as it would make no sense to think of a bee as a “small fly”: but others pointed out that the diminutive here could have more to do with speakers’ attitudes than with the actual size difference. An unambiguous case of a diminutive form used for “bee” is found in a form ESSETTE (whose /s/ either derives from the plural or is a non-etymological consonant added to /e/) which used to be found in Lorraine and other parts of Eastern France.
    Whether MOUCHETTE was a diminutive or not, the problem of how to call bees by an unambiguous name was solved through the spread of ABEILLE from Southern to Northern France, up to Paris, via the valley of the Rhone. In the dialects North of Paris the problem was solved through the creation of a term MOUCHE À MIEL “honey fly”, which still exists in some French Creoles (I encountered it in a Seychellois story once). Another, similar such coinage was MOUCHE À CIRE “Wax fly”.
    Finally, in parts of the lower Loire there existed a word AVETTE, deriving from Latin APEM + the diminutive suffix -ITTA (APITTA): this shows that APEM was not the only form used for “bee” in the Vulgar Latin of Northern France.
    There is an interesting difference, by the way, between AVETTE and ESSETTE: both are diminutives, with the same suffix, but as the phonological history of APEM given above shows, ESSETTE must be a diminutive coined in the Old French era or later, whereas AVETTE must go back to late Vulgar Latin itself.

  76. marie-lucie says:

    Merci, Etienne! I thought I distinctly rememberd ève and ée, so perhaps I encountered these forms in a different context (quite a while ago in any case).

  77. Trond Engen says:

    the lower Loire
    A random observation, seemingly out of the blue*: The parallel but geographically disconnected developments of ai or ei to oa in English and Southern German are actually shared with their common neighbour Nortern French. I think the timescales speak against an areal explanation, but I’d be happy to be wrong!
    *) I was reminded that the river goes by Leira “muddy (river)” in the sagas.

  78. Merci, Etienne!
    From me as well! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that sort of discussion.

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