4.0503 Words: Plurals; Past Tenses; Pseudo-loanwords (4/113)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 18 Sep 90 22:59:24 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0503. Tuesday, 18 Sep 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 18 Sep 90 07:15 CDT (27 lines)
From: Robin Smith <RSMITH@KSUVM>
Subject: English plurals of Classical words

(2) Date: Mon, 17 Sep 90 22:23 EDT (10 lines)
From: Lorre Smith <LS973@ALBNYVMS>
Subject: Our English

(3) Date: Tue, 18 Sep 90 15:56 EST (38 lines)
From: Norman Miller <NMILLER@TRINCC>
Subject: words for loan-words

(4) Date: Tue, 18 Sep 1990 15:14:04 GMT+0400 (38 lines)
From: Judy Koren <LBJUDY@VMSA.technion.ac.il>
Subject: Pseudo-loanwords

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------32----
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 90 07:15 CDT
From: Robin Smith <RSMITH@KSUVM>
Subject: English plurals of Classical words

Roland Hutchinson worries about whether the education establishment is
right to use 'curriculums' as the plural of 'curriculum.' It seems to
me perfectly de- fensible to pluralize English words by putting an 's'
on the end, and 'curricu- lum' is thoroughly naturalized. In fact, this
business of trying to show one's knowledge of Classical declensional
patterns tends, I think, to get silly. What is the plural of 'octopus'?
Why not 'octopodes'? (Only an ignorant Roman who didn't know Greek
would say 'octopi.') How about 'cornucopia,' or 'nexus'? Or why stop
with Latin and Greek? We keep calling her Raissa Gorbachev; why not get
it right with Gorbacheva? Operas include arias: shouldn't opere have
arie in them?

It was, I think, Shelley Berman who used to do a routine involving lots
of pseudo-Classical, etc., plurals (my favorite: 'kleenices'). And
Ogden Nash came up with the wonderful pair 'sheriffim and bailiffim.'

Two disclaimers: first, the ancient Greek name for the little animal that
often winds up in sushi is 'oktapous' ('oktopous' usually means 'eight
feet long,' though LSJ says it might mean 'octopus'); the native Latin
form was 'oc- tipes.' Next, unsympathetic as I am to enforcing borrowed
inflections, I must confess that I can't stand 'phenomena' and
'criteria' as singulars or imagine 'phenomenons' and 'criterions.' And
at the sound of 'a media,' I'd reach for my revolver, if I had one.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 90 22:23 EDT
From: <LS973@ALBNYVMS>
Subject: Our English

Good old mom, who taught English in the middle 20th century in secondary
school always insisted that the past tense of dive is dived. So,
Kessler, have you indeed dived off the edge? Experts -- advise!!
Lorre Smith
SUNY Albany
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------43----
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 90 15:56 EST
Subject: words for loan-words

Thanks to Tom Shannon for his Scheinentlehnung. It's exactly
right. But isn't there a kinder translation than "pseudo"
or "false"? One of the things that attracted me to these words
in the first place was the element of innocence, of venturing to
use an imperfectly-known language.

apparent loan
screen loan

Not quite. We need something maybe in Greek, and the family
classicist is busy (if not, then he's in big trouble).

An additional reason for avoiding "false" is that I'd rather see
it used to describe what _seem_ to be loan-words but aren't.
Yiddish, which delights in borrowing, has "balang" which, appear-
ance aside, is not from the English. The same _may_ be true of
'visper', although the evidence is going against me.

Here's another question: do we have a term for the much larger
class of loan-words whose referents, while real enough, are
rarely or differently used in the host language: redingote,
smoking, non-stop? Or my favorite, castlegarden?

Finally, what do we say about borrowed _uses_? The English "like"
is both a preposition and a verb; its Yiddish cognate "glaykh" is
only a preposition. But in the U.S. it has become a verb as well and
has in fact almost completely replaced the older forms.

How did most of us end our dissertations: much research remains to be

Norman Miller

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------44----
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 1990 15:14:04 GMT+0400
From: LBJUDY@VMSA.technion.ac.il
Subject: Pseudo-loanwords

How nice that someone brought this up! I wanted to give a few examples
but they didn't seem to fit into the "loanword" category and I wasn't
bright enough to invent a category of my own for them. Hebrew has some
confusing pseudoloans from English; the ones I can think of offhand are
mainly from the real-estate field. E.g. it used to be the case that any
single-family home was a "villa" (I leave you to decide which language
that actually came from); almost everyone lived in apartments and the
word "house" was understood to mean "apartment" ("at my house" = "at my
place"). "Villa" really meant what we used, in England, to call a
bungalow (borrowed from some Indian language -- shades of Imperial
glory) with no intimations of Roman aristocracy. Now that single houses
are more common and duplexes and triplexes commoner still, the term has
faded; the object is just a "single house". But the term "cottage" has
entered the language, meaning (prepare for a surprise) any housing unit
with 2 or more floors to it, i.e. with stairs inside the individual
dwelling-unit, as opposed to the old apartment-block plan with one set
of stairs for the whole house, each apartment opening off it. It is NOT
a single-family house; there are 2 - 6 cottages in a typical house.

Then there are the words adopted in the plural to which a native Hebrew
plural is added. My favourite is "brakes-im" == brakes (there's a
perfectly good Hebrew word for brakes, but only a well-educated driver
routinely uses it). The mechanism here is akin to that in all those
English place- names which started with a Celtic word meaning river,
forest, hill or whatever, to which the Anglo-Saxons tacked on their own
word for river, hill, etc., taking the Celtic one to be the name of the
hill rather than the generic word. You don't realize you've already got
it so you duplicate it. I could no doubt think up some more lovely
examples but I don't have time right now and you don't really want me to
get started on this subject anyway, it's too vast.

Anyone got any examples from English of borrowing a foreign word in the
plural and tacking an English plural onto it?
Judy Koren