2 of 2
2
Threshold, OE translation
Posted: 25 April 2007 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

The OED2 etymology for threshold says “cf. OHG. driscûfli neuter, MHG. drischuvel, durschufel, Ger. dial. drischaufel, etc.”

I don’t think the first element in these is cognate to door, Tür, and I doubt strongly that the first element in “threshold” is.  The similarity, such as it is, of “threshold” and Türschwelle is probably coincidental, IMHO.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

if “tuerschwelle” in German means “threshold”, then it’s elements are likely to be “tuer” (a door?) and “schwelle” (a step?), which would suggest that “threshold” originally broke down to “thre” corresponding to “tuer” and “shold” corresponding to “schwelle” and has nothing to do with threshing or thrashing.

You’re probably right about the second half of the German word. I was reading it as “tuersch-welle” but based only on the Anglo-Saxon form of the word. Somehow I think this etymological riddle about the two halves of threshold may not be solved.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2007 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

Updates:

Had I done a smattering of homework I would have seen that the German verb is “dreschen”. A person who threshes would no doubt be a “Drescher” which must be true because that’s what Fran’s voice does to my ears.

The word “subliminal” is explained as “below the threshold” but some suggest it really means “below the lintel”, which would indicate further confusion in English between two distinct entities, threshold and lintel, based on spurious understandings of Latin usages.

The word “sublimate” in English, to pass from a solid to gaseous state without going through a liquid state, apparently goes all the way back to Chaucer according to one web article.

The Old Norse word “threskjoldr” looks very similar to the English. Wonder if the etymology of it could be found out.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2007 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4691
Joined  2007-01-03

The word “subliminal” is explained as “below the threshold” but some suggest it really means “below the lintel”, which would indicate further confusion in English between two distinct entities, threshold and lintel, based on spurious understandings of Latin usages.

This argument indicates confusion over two distinct English senses of threshold. The word has a literal meaning of doorstep as well as an extended, metaphorical, meaning of boundary or limit. When used in phrases like “below the threshold,” it is this second, extended, meaning that is used. Replacing it with “below the lintel” is just incorrect usage of that word, which does not have such an extended meaning. The extended meaning of threshold actually appears earlier than the literal one in extant manuscripts (c.888 v. c.1000). The discrepancy is certainly due to the paucity of surviving manuscripts; I don’t think anyone seriously suggests the literal meaning is not the original.

Sublimate does not date to Chaucer, at least not according to the OED2. It’s 16th century.

The OED2 mentions the Old Norse threskjoldr in the etymology of threshold and indicates that the first element is cognate with thresh and the second element, as in English, is of unknown provenance.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2007 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

Sublimate does not date to Chaucer, at least not according to the OED2. It’s 16th century.

Still amazing how much misinformation is out there. Had a chance to download the OED from CD and neglected to do it (kicking myself), though of course it would have been illegal…

The extended meaning of threshold actually appears earlier than the literal one in extant manuscripts (c.888 v. c.1000). The discrepancy is certainly due to the paucity of surviving manuscripts; I don’t think anyone seriously suggests the literal meaning is not the original.

The discrepancy therein and the paucity thereof are no doubt due to the interface between Latin and Anglo-Saxon, where much of the written texts come from.

Thx.

[ Edited: 26 April 2007 06:54 PM by foolscap ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2007 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-02-23

Apparently a (proto-)Germanic ancestor has been proposed:

http://www.koeblergerhard.de/germanistischewoerterbuecher/germanischeswoerterbuch/germ-TH.pdf

*þreskudla-

with purported reflexes (if I’m reading this right) in Old English, Old Norse, and Old High German (this last I can’t find right now).

I don’t immediately see why the metathesis is assumed ... perhaps suggested by the OHG reflex.

Whether the word is truly etymologically related to “thresh” is not clear to me.

However, I would note that primitive threshing might have been done outdoors, necessitating some sort of low wall or fence to keep the grain from blowing away.

Note that the last part of the Old Norse word looks like “shield” (could be Old Norse ‘folk-etymology’, or coincidence, though).

Note also modern Swedish “tröska” = “thresh”, “tröskel” = “threshold”. I haven’t looked into this (maybe it’s a red herring of some sort).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2007 10:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  821
Joined  2007-03-01

However, I would note that primitive threshing might have been done outdoors, necessitating some sort of low wall or fence to keep the grain from blowing away.


On the contrary: primitive threshing was always done out of doors, on a broad open space in the windiest place you could find, so that the chaff would blow away when you tossed it up into the air while the heavier grain fell to the ground. The last thing you would want round your threshing floor is any kind of fence or wall to obstruct this process.

We are told in 2 Chronicles 3:1: “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” The Temple site is almost the highest point in the whole of Jerusalem - ideal for a traditional threshing floor.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2007 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-02-23

I am ignorant of the history of threshing technology, which is a big subject. I defer to any expert.

It would seem obvious that the earliest large-scale threshing (which is not necessarily relevant) was done outdoors, and I would casually guess that it was still done outdoors in Old English or Old Norse milieux, but I think a supposition earlier in the thread was that it was done indoors (maybe it sometimes was, for all I know).

So: anybody know the date of the first threshing-house in the Germanic-speaking world?

I found a picture or two in which a low barrier has been arranged at the periphery of an outdoor threshing floor. Maybe it wasn’t to keep the grain in, maybe it was to keep the chaff and/or straw in (I don’t think chaff and straw have always and everywhere been considered utterly useless), maybe to keep animals out, whatever: for the purposes of the current discussion, it would suffice that some threshing floors had low barriers. I am only speculating that some in the first millennium AD did. Certainly, in abstract principle, the ideal threshing environment does not call for the maximum wind and zero threshold, since with this arrangement the chaff, grain, [oxen,] etc. would all blow away.

[ Edited: 27 April 2007 06:59 AM by D Wilson ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2007 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  821
Joined  2007-03-01

On a really windy day, of course you just didn’t thresh. But a certain amount of wind was essential for the primitive process – which was still in use in parts of Europe till the mid-20th century – see here:
http://www.roangelo.net/valente/oxgamba.html

Outdoor threshing floors have been found in excavations of several rural Saxon archaeological sites. The standard term was þirsce-flór or þerscel-flór.  I am not aware of the finding of any buildings used for threshing, not or a word for such a building in Old English.

Here’s a picture of 11th-century Saxons threshing:

http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/sdk13/ASCalendar/ASCalDec.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2007 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3468
Joined  2007-01-29

In Russian, there are two words for ‘threshing-floor’, tok for the outdoor kind (photo) (it’s etymologically ‘running-place’, from the horses that were used in the process; in origin it’s the same word as tok ‘(electrical) current’) and gumno for the covered/indoor kind (here‘s a 19th-century painting of one, and here‘s an exterior photo of one).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2007 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

Nice log cabin construction with nary a lintel to be found. Interesting that the second photo is so familiar yet has a distinct Slavic flavor to it. Trim and no extras, but with a substantial thatched roof. Must have been the heavy snow that dictated the design. The painting shows, on the right hand side, that the logs were adzed out on the bottom of each to allow for water runoff, which is a sign of workmanship and which eliminates the need for chinking. The roof structure is oddly minimalist: heavy roof boards but little support besides some straps crosswise to tie them together and an unaccustomed large beam running down the middle at the height of the wall, but no evident uprights. A couple of cross-ties for triangulation of the roof structure. The right hand wall consists of full logs whereas the left hand one is made of squared and smaller rails. Note the buttresses to support the wall. These suggest it is an exterior wall, so why the different style of construction? Perhaps it is in fact an interior wall, a middle wall with a similar space on the other side; hard to tell from the pitch of the roof. Also a lot of wasted space up above: no lofts. They must have been getting all the activity needed below, and perhaps the overhead plenum helped to cool off the workmen in the summer. Clearly, since four doors are indicated, this was a hub of activity with many wagons moving in and out all the time. Sliding doors at that.

The first photo shows an impressive mountain of grain. Probably the structure in the background contained a mechanized thresher which enabled them to produce such a prodigious quantity. The workers in the foreground are winnowing the grain from the detritis, presumably. IMO, they are working the bottom of the slope so that as the lighter chaff is blown uphill the heavier grain remains down below, from where it can be loaded onto trucks or wagons. As the mountain gets smaller it probably gets easier to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

[ Edited: 27 April 2007 05:23 PM by foolscap ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2007 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

Dave, I’d like to point out once more that you’ve put too much text into your translation, making it inaccurate. In your blog entry you give the translation of Se ilca [sc. Godes miht] forwyrnð þæræ sæ þæt heo ne mot þone þeorscwold oferstæppan þære eorþan as
“The same [i.e., God’s power] forewarns the sea that it may not overstep the threshold of the earth, but he has so fixed its limits, that it may not extend its boundary over the still earth.” As I remarked above, the part that I’ve now shown in bold is a translation of what comes after the OE passage you quote, it is not part of the translation of that passage.

[ Edited: 28 April 2007 01:26 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2