In a message dated 3/11/01 12:40:06 PM Pacific Standard Time,
>The reason for all the etymologies,
> is because almost 50% af all English words are actually French imports.
> And the meanings of many English words are very hard to learn without
> knowing some Latin or some French.<
>>I'd say that number is a bit exaggerated :) French words are mostly
common in legal terms and such (since French used to be what English is
Actually, 50% is about the number that I have found in my years of study, as
well. In legal and scientific terms, the latin-derived words stick out a lot
more, since they are often long and multi-syllabic, but there are shorter
words like "mirror" and anything with "real", for example, that came from
French. For a German learning English, they really stick out, believe me.
One of my favorite pieces is a short story by Poul Anderson in his book All
One Universe, p. 99-104, called "Uncleftish Beholding". He wrote this piece
of popular science in a timeline in which the Norman Conquest never happened,
so there is not a single latin-(or greek-) derived word in the story. For a
German, it is actually not too hard to read, because we actually use
"waterstuff" (Wasserstoff) as the word for hydrogen. I assume that it is
similar to an Icelander, because in modern Icelandic, even new words are
given an appropriate name in Icelandic instead of using the foreign word
(computer = tölva (number + völva, right?)).
Here is the beginning, to give you a taste:
For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but
could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today
we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the
workstead and in daily life.
The underlying kinds of stuff are the firststuffs, which link together in
sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two
firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and barest, to ymirstuff, the
heaviest. Now we have made more, such as aegirstuff and helstuff.
The firststuffs have their being as motes called unclefts. These are mighty
small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a tale of them like unto two
followed by twenty-two naughts. Most unclefts link together to make what are
called bulkbits. Thus, the waterstuff bulkbit bestands of two waterstuff
unclefts, the sourstuff bulkbit of two sourstuff unclefts, and so on. (Some
kinds, such as sunstuff, keep alone; others, such as iron, cling together in
ices when in the fast standing; and there are yet more yokeways.) When
unlike clefts link in a bulkbit, they make bindings. Thus, water is a
binding of two waterstuff unclefts with one sourstuff uncleft, while a
bulkbit of one of the forestuffs making up flesh may have a thousand thousand
or more unclefts of these two firststuffs together with coalstuff and