By Kate Burridge
English is the main inventive, changeable and imaginitive of languages. a few phrases are invented to fulfill transitority wishes and are quick discarded; others hold meanings countless numbers of years outdated. Language fascinates us, and we spend loads of time fiddling with it, concocting every thing from puns, riddles and mystery languages to great prose and poetry. We additionally fear approximately it greatly, having a look up and checking phrases in dictionaries and utilization courses, sometimes arguing approximately definitions. This publication celebrates our ability to play with language, in addition to interpreting the methods we use it: in slang and jargon, swearing, talking the unspeakable, or concealing disagreeable or inconvenient proof. it's a ebook for shopping, for locating beguiling snippets approximately language, heritage and social customs, and for utilizing as a powerful weapon in notice video games.
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Extra info for Blooming English: Observations on the Roots, Cultivation and Hybrids of the English Language
We no longer connect shape and -ship. The -ly in a word like beastly provides a truly spectacular example of the life cycle of an ending. This derives from an Old English word līc meaning 'body' (the same word as in lychgate 50 Word Creation 'gateway where the corpse is placed'). It originally appeared in compounds with the meaning 'having the appearance of. You could compare something like godlike. Over time it evolved into an ending. We no longer connect the -ly in godly with like in godlike, although historically they are the same - a nice example of linguistic history repeating itself.
Of course, purists will insist that the plural of something like attorney-general should remain attorneys-general, but most of us have probably regularized it as attorney-generals, just as we've begun to do with mother-inlaw and runner-up. The fact that we are thinking of these expressions as single units is also obvious from their unified meanings. Take, for example, the wide range of relationships possible in noun-noun compounds. In flu symptoms flu causes the symptoms; in other words, A causes B.
Hocus-pocus comes from the first part of the string of mock Latin hocus-pocus, toutous talontus (supposedly parodying the first words of the consecration). Many of these reduplicated compounds are undoubtedly expressive. Some are obvious imitations of actual sounds like bowwow and choo-choo, and with a bit of imagination even ho-ho and tsk-tsk are a bit like noises we make. Dictionary makers, I think, must have more imagination than the rest of us. They see all sorts of sound-meaning links. Take the word hurdy-gurdy - a rhyming combination, says the Oxford English Dictionary, suggested by the sound of the instrument.