End of ADS-L Digest - 17 Oct 1997 to 18 Oct 1997 ************************************************ Subject: ADS-L Digest - 18 Oct 1997 to 19 Oct 1997 There are 8 messages totalling 282 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. Etymology of _Hoosier_ (2) 2. Charles Carson's email address 3. mb..., nd..., ngg... 4. Japanese Teens' Use of US English 5. Warning! and a Request 6. thank you . . . thank you (2) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 10:23:25 -0400 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: Etymology of _Hoosier_ Fred, Gosh, there are so many examples of the process of folk-etymology becoming the 'truth' that I am surprised to hear a request for one. How about a really old one: For I would guess nearly all speakers of English (with the exception of those who have professional training in the history of the language), the first morpheme in the compound 'hangnail' is the morpheme 'hang.' That is the current, psycholinguistic, morphological truth. (It is not the historical truth, of course; the 'hang' part of 'hangnail' is related to 'anxiety' or modern German 'Angst' and meant 'hurt-nail,' but since the damn things also 'hang' there off your nail, the folk etymology makes so much sense that it has supplied the current morphological truth.) If Fred means that dismissing all such stories would be a fairly safe bet in determining the historical fact, I would (with a few hedges) probably agree; if he means to dismiss folk etymology as a part of the historical process of language change (in which the misunderstandings of one era become the psycholinguistic facts of the next), that would be a serious error. In fact, it would be no more sophisticated than one's being told that a word does not 'have' a certain sense if it cannot be found in a dictionary, or, more aptly parallel to this discussion, that a word 'really' means something because its historical meaning is thus and so. We all know why words 'really' mean something (and why constructions, pronunciations, etc... exist). Dennis >On Thu, 16 Oct 1997, Dennis R. Preston wrote: > >> There is also some caution to be taken in lessons learned from medicine and >> other areas (which we all pray are dominated by hard science) where folk >> facts have tuned out to be right on. > >I would be curious to learn of examples of folk-etymologies that have >turned out to be "right on." I have long believed that the more colorful >an etymological story is, the less likely it is to have anything to do >with the truth. If one automatically dismissed all colorful etymological >stories as hogwash, one would rarely be in error. > > >---------------------------------------------------------------------------- > Fred R. Shapiro Coeditor (with Jane Garry) > Associate Librarian for Public Services TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD > and Lecturer in Legal Research ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES > Yale Law School Oxford University Press, 1997 > e-mail: fred.shapiro[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]yale.edu ISBN 0-19-509547-2 >---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736