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Posted: 22 February 2010 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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’buy’ stems apparently from OE bycgan, P.Gmc. *bugjanan and is not found outside Germanic, I’m told. I would like to know how OE pronunciation was, phonetics is not my forté. Maybe someone can find an English word with which it ryhmes? Did it originally have the sense of ‘exchange money for’?

I would hazard a guess and say it is related to Spanish ‘buscar’. Anyone with any more info?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 04:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Etymology Online has some information on the pronunciation.
There is an obsolete Dutch word bocht meaning ‘treasure’ with an uncertain etymology, that, according to WNT migth be cognate with ‘buy’. Just a guess, they add.

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Posted: 22 February 2010 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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hartstikke bedankt

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Posted: 22 February 2010 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Did it originally have the sense of ‘exchange money for’?

Not sure what you’re asking here. Yes, the OE verb (ge)bicgan did mean “to buy or exchange money for.” Pretty much what the modern verb to buy means today. (Except the OE verb didn’t have the figurative sense of “to accept as true.") It was also used to mean “to pay,” including “to pay a penalty.” In theological contexts, the (ge)bicgan could also mean “to redeem.” And it sometimes appears as glossing Latin venere ("to sell"), negotiari ("to trade"), and appretiare ("to appraise"), but only in glosses; it doesn’t carry these meanings in any extant OE prose.

My Spanish etymology is deficient, but my instinct is to doubt very much whether there is any relation to buscar.

[typo corrected]

[ Edited: 22 February 2010 10:39 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 22 February 2010 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I would like to know how OE pronunciation was

Like BIDGE-ahn ("bidge" = bridge without the -r-), except that the vowel in the first syllable is not /i/ but /ü/ (French u).

I would hazard a guess and say it is related to Spanish ‘buscar’. Anyone with any more info?

No, it has nothing to do with Spanish buscar, which is of disputed origin but may be from a Celtic form related to Irish búaid ‘victory.’ And I would urge you not to give in to the urge to compare random words from different languages for possibilities of relationship; I know it’s a fun parlor game, but I guarantee you you’re not going to come up with anything etymologists haven’t thought of.  Etymology is hard work!

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Posted: 22 February 2010 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would hazard a guess and say it is related to Spanish ‘buscar’.

I doubt it. The RAE Diccionario de la lengua española (link) says buscar ‘to search’ is of Celtic origin from PIE *bhudh-sko- ‘to win’. Pokorny traces Old Irish buaid ‘victory’ to a different root, though. Benveniste (as well as Pokorny) associates Gothic *bugjan ‘to buy’ to Avestan baog ‘to undo; set free; redeem’ from PIE *bhewg(h)- ‘to put aside; clear; free’.

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Posted: 22 February 2010 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Benveniste (as well as Pokorny) associates Gothic *bugjan ‘to buy’ to Avestan baog ‘to undo; set free; redeem’ from PIE *bhewg(h)- ‘to put aside; clear; free’.

A reasonable guess, certainly, but just a guess, like many etymologies.  (And before anyone says “Well, then, why can’t we guess too?”: the guesses of trained etymologists are worth approximately 1,000,000 times as much as the guesses of random amateurs!)

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Posted: 23 February 2010 02:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Keep your hat on, language hat! A blind chicken finds a grain of corn sometimes! (How does one train guesses? Carrot and stick method?)
2000 years ago, money would not have played a great role in the lives of ordinary people. Barter and exchange, I think, would have been the main methods of trading. ‘My chicken for your daughter’
Are you fairly sure of your facts, Dave? ‘Yes, the OE verb (ge)bicgan did mean “to buy or exchange money for.”’

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Posted: 23 February 2010 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well, Old English had a word for barter and it was not bycgan but hwerfan ‘to turn, revolve; change; barter, exchange’. In fact here’s a sentence that uses both verbs: Nán man ne bycge ne hwyrfe búton hé gewitnesse hæbbe “let no man either buy or barter unless he have a witness” in The Laws of King Ethelred I.3. For what it’s worth there was coinage in most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Pedroski - 23 February 2010 02:40 AM

How does one train guesses? Carrot and stick method?

One trains them by education (in this instance an education in etymology and linguistics). An educated guess is worth more than an uneducated one.

[ Edited: 23 February 2010 07:01 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 23 February 2010 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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How does one train guesses? Carrot and stick method?

Such educated guesses by trained etymologists are usually based on known patterns of phonetic change. Simply looking at two words from different languages and noting that they sound (or as is more usually the case, are spelled) similarly is just not a productive method—you will be wrong far more often than you will be right.

Are you fairly sure of your facts, Dave? ‘Yes, the OE verb (ge)bicgan did mean “to buy or exchange money for.”’

Yes, the verb is documented in excruciating detail in Toronto’s Dictionary of Old English: A-G. I did not double check with the OE Corpus—which lists every instance of every OE word in the extant literature—but there are hundreds of hits for this verb, so I’m trusting the OE experts at the University of Toronto got this one right.

[ Edited: 23 February 2010 07:11 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 23 February 2010 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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2000 years ago, money would not have played a great role in the lives of ordinary people.

Possibly true for the tribes across the Rhine, Pedroski, but not for people in the more civilized parts of the ancient world. Both Roman and Greek civilizations had money-based economies, and cash transactions were an everyday affair. Only after the barbarian invasions and the collapse of the Western Empire did barter become a major part of everyday life in most of Europe.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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"Penny”, as a coin and unit of currency, is cited back to early Old English (and has cognates is nearly every Germanic language) so the idea that OE wouldn’t have a word for “buy” because they didn’t use money is obviously untenable. (As jheem has also pointed out.)

BTW, English (even Old English) isn’t 2000 years old.

But, if you want to get back to that time period, Julius Caesar reported that in 54 BC, the inhabitants of the interior of Britain (who would have spoken a Celtic language, since this was pre-Saxon) “use[d] either brass or iron rings, determined at a certain weight, as their money.”

De Bello Gallico at U. of Virginia

[ Edited: 23 February 2010 03:17 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 23 February 2010 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Dr. Techie - 23 February 2010 01:25 PM

Julius Caesar reported that in 54 BC, the inhabitants of the interior of Britain (who would have spoken a Celtic language, since this was pre-Saxon) “use[d] either brass or iron rings, determined at a certain weight, as their money.”

I think old Jules was guilty of a bit of spin there, making the natives look more primitive than they were: as this site says, “by the time of Caesar’s attempted invasions, in 55 B.C. and again the following year, Celtic coins were being minted by all of the south-eastern tribes of Britain in gold, silver and bronze.”

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Posted: 23 February 2010 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Or the natives wisely chose not to show these pushy, well-armed foreigners their gold and silver.  The inadvisability of flashing large amounts of cash when in dubious company is probably not a modern discovery.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The inadvisability of flashing large amounts of cash when in dubious company is probably not a modern discovery.

an understatement to be sure.

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