Nov. 30th, 2007

xiphias: (Default)
I dreamed that someone was asking me trivia questions about languages, and the question was how you say "please" in German.

And I totally couldn't remember. I went through por favor, permisso (which may actually be "excuse me"), si vous plait. And I couldn't remember. So I turned to Lis and said, "I'm remembering various Romance language things, but not Germanic ones. Can you think of any English words of Anglo-Saxon origin that have a meaning similar to 'please' that might give a clue?"

Lis came up with "beg". I started rolling that around in my mind, with typical sound changes. "Beg" to "bed" to "bet" to "bit", to Bitte.

I have no idea if my brain actually worked something out, or if it's just a coincidence.

Anyway, when I woke up, that dream reminded me of something ELSE that I have been rolling around in my mind occasionally.

One day, I just started thinking about the words "retrospect" and "hindsight". Those two words are synonyms, and they are both compound words, made from two roots, one might "sight" and one meaning "backward." It's just that in one word, both roots are Latinate, and in the other, they're both Germanic.

And so, since then, I've been occasionally trying to think of other pairs of words that have that same relationship: words made from more than one root, in which, in one word, all the roots are Latinate (or Greek, I guess -- let's open the game up further), and in the other word, they're all Germanic/Anglo-Saxon/Old English. and in which the two words are synonyms. I haven't really come up with any good ones besides that first pair that inspired the thought.

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