Word Lady dissects the 'crazy' English language

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Word Lady dissects the 'crazy' English language Powered By Docstoc
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Description: Many of the words we use every day, like "house," "eat," "live" and "rather" still mean the same thing they did to the Anglo-Saxons, explains Ms. [Katherine Barber]. The Vikings arrived about 790, and we have them to thank for words that start with "sk," like skirt and sky, whereas a lot of AngloSaxon words started with "sh." Originally skirt and shirt meant the same thing. One might think we would have kept one and discarded the other, but, as Ms. Barber said, our forebears were linguistic pack rats. "Why throw out a perfectly good word?" joked Ms. Barber. "If we keep both skirt and shirt, we can have matching separates!"Wonder why we have so many synonyms? One of the reasons is that some of the words we got from French were pronounced differently in Norman French and Central French. The Normans could pronounce words starting with a "w" (of which there were many in Prankish), but the Central French had to stick a "g" in front of the word to get a running leap at the sound "w." Thus, we English first borrowed warranty and then borrowed guarantee as well. "We were good at recycling and reusing, but not so good at reducing," said Ms. Barber.
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