Saturday, January 05, 2008

a linguistic aside

Just a couple of minor points, and then I really am going to bed:

-- Why is it that when I take my desk apart, I dismantle it,
but I do not mantle it by putting it back together again?

-- The phrase "misty-eyed" takes on a whole new meaning when one knows that "Mist" means "dung" in German. ;oD


Spencer said...

Hmm... good question. Seems like Dismantle comes from a French word ("dismantler" maybe? Don't remember the word for sure) that was used to mean "razing fortifcations", because a mantel was a "cover", and by removing fortifications you were removing the cover of the enemy troops. Of course that technical background still gives no reason for our use of the word in English to simply mean "take apart", so I do believe I just went into a long explination to not actually answer your question. Short answer - It is English, it is weird. :-)

Ja-9 said...

We just talked about this kinda stuff in synchronic linguistics. The headline was "Irregularities in the English Vocaulary" ;-) Our main example for those *pseudo-antonyms*: disgruntle - gruntle? ;-)
Our professor couldn't explain it other than from where it might have started one of these days.... She could afterall *not* explain it, mainly because there is *no* logical reason for English to be that way.... ;-)
I love it though!
My Oma gave me a book about German irregularities. It's great!


Court said...

Spencer: I think your last statement sums it all up nicely. ;o) (I looked up the French: it's "démonter"--definitely a relation!)

Ja-9: Oh, I love linguistics! I really hope you enjoyed that class! "Pseudo-antonym" is a great term--I hadn't heard that one before, but it fits perfectly!