Try - the sifting
Posted: 08 May 2013 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Was trawling through my Dutch etymological dictionary in the bog the other night (too much detail - ed; too much RPondian slang - LPondians) and something led me to the word ‘trial’.

There were two lemmas, one of which was pretty obscure (’comical tenor’, named for the eponymous French singer Antoine 1736-95, that’s the last interesting bit of this post), the other a loan version of the English term for ‘ordeal’, ‘test’.

According to Van Dale:

Trial < Eng < ME trien [select] < Fr trier [sort, sift], late Lat *tritare [rub, thresh], iterative of Lat terere (pp tritum) [rub, crush, thresh] (tritum also means ‘refined’). The shift in meaning from ‘thresh’ (ie, ‘separate the chaff from the corn’) to ‘sort’ is not so far.

I was aware of the related Eng. word ‘triage’, also from the French. Not sure if ‘trier’ is still used in mod. Fr. (I don’t remember ever hearing it in speech, and I have studied French and lived in the country) but I never quite made the ‘French connection’ (sorry!) so was interested enough to check out what the Etymonline.com site made of ‘try’, spurred on by the apparent difference in the underlined bits above and below.

Their entry:

Try (v.)
c.1300, “examine judiciously, sit in judgment of,” from Anglo-French trier (late 13c.), from Old French trier “to pick out, cull” (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *triare, of unknown origin. The ground sense is “separate out (the good) by examination.” Meaning “to test” is first recorded mid-14c.; that of “attempt to do” is from early 14c. Sense of “to subject to some strain” (of patience, endurance, etc.) is recorded from 1530s. Trying “distressing” is first attested 1718. To try (something) on for size in the figurative sense is recorded from 1956.

Is the Van Dale’s hypothetical Late-Latin verb *tritare also mentioned by the OED? If not, what does it say?

Thanks in advance, one day I will be able to afford the real deal giant OED… :-)

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Posted: 08 May 2013 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Speaking of triage, many physicians and nurses are under the misapprehension that it derives from tri-, three, because it entails sorting patients into three groups (will survive even without prompt treatment, will survive only with prompt treatment, will not survive even with treatment).  It goes to show that expertise in a field does not confer expertise in the etymology of that field’s terminology.

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Posted: 08 May 2013 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dr. Techie - 08 May 2013 04:42 PM

Speaking of triage, many physicians and nurses are under the misapprehension that it derives from tri-, three, because it entails sorting patients into three groups…

I had that misapprehension.

Etymonline suggests that:

...There seems to be some influence from or convergence with Latin tria “three” (e.g. triage for “coffee beans of the third or lowest quality"). In World War I, adopted for the sorting of wounded soldiers into three groups according to the severity of their injuries....

Though this does not change its initial derivation from (according to etymonline) “French triage “a picking out, sorting,” from Old French trier “to pick, cull"..."

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Posted: 11 May 2013 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for the tangentials, chaps, but can anyone supply the OED entry for the verb ‘try’?

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Posted: 11 May 2013 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The entry, of course is very, very long and hasn’t been updated recently (the original is from 1915), but here’s the etymology and first definitions (which are relevant to this discussion):

Etymology:  < Old French trie-r (12th cent., Benoit Ducs de Norm. ii. 11518 Le tort del dreit Trier e conoistre e sevrer (to sift and know and sever the wrong from the right) = Provençal triar, Catalan triar, also medieval Latin triāre (from Provençal or French) to sift or pick out. The legal use appears to have been developed in Anglo-Norman, where it is known c1280; there is no trace of this use in continental French. The origin of the French and Provençal word is unknown.

The conjecture of Frisch, mentioned by Diez and by Skeat, that it represents a late Latin *trītāre to grind out, thresh out, frequentative of terĕre, is incompatible with the Provençal form. Another conjecture is that it was a transposed form of tirer ‘to draw, extract’, in a specific sense; but evidence is wanting.

1.a. trans. To separate (one thing) from another or others; to set apart; to distinguish. Often with out. Obs. or arch.

†b. To pick out, choose, select; pa. pple. (quot. 1340-70), selected, choice (cf. tried adj. 2).

†2. a. To separate the good part of a thing from the rest, esp. by sifting or straining; hence, to sift or strain. Usually with out. Obs.

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Posted: 11 May 2013 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The latest (2011) edition of the AHD (which has excellent etymologies) says the Romance word is “of unknown origin.”

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Posted: 11 May 2013 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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To answer Blackgrey’s question, trier is a common verb used in modern French and retains the meaning of sorting into useful versus not useful, or just plain sorting into categories.  Very common these days as in “centre de tri”, which is a waste/garbage recycling facility.

The “Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé” agrees with the origin from latin terere/tritum

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Posted: 11 May 2013 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks Dave. Old it may be but it still sounds vaguely authoratative. Nice to read that the OED picks up on the same thing, in its own way… Thanks to to LH and SG too, sends me on my way with a few new things to ponder.

Looks like the ‘*tritare’ postulation is a step to far to justify.

And I was certainly not aware of the mod Fr recycling meaning. Sort of encouraging to hear it is still being referenced in the now in France.

Others have gone off at tangents here; if I were to do the same, I would want to know on which forum I could complain about all the new French terms for internet-related words, which represent a significant obstacle in my current ability to translate from Fr to En. Even though I am gradually getting them, looks like I’ll be in my grave before my use of them justifies the curiosity…

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