English continues its persistent decline
Posted: 12 February 2015 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
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We keep getting worser and badder, just as our ancestors did.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/02/johnson-language-anxieties

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Posted: 12 February 2015 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That was lovely. Thanks.

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Posted: 12 February 2015 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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You’re most welcome, OP.

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Posted: 12 February 2015 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, that constant centuries-long decline of English is indeed terrible…

About that German book title mentioned in the article, with “a few hard-to-translate mistakes”:

Bin ich denn der einzigste hier, wo Deutsch kann?

My attempt to make corresponding mistakes in English:

Am I the onliest one where speaks German here?

... with onliest being something like a super-superlative of only.

(One mistake, writing hiere instead of hier, was added by the author of the article; the original faulty German book title does not have that one, as it would not be a funny mistake, but simply a typo.)

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Posted: 13 February 2015 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Would Deutsch kann (literally, “can German") without a sprechen, be normal idiomatic German?  My knowledge of the language is too rusty to say.

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Posted: 13 February 2015 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Have any prominent literary figures, or other famous figures ever published an article or otherwise made comments in praise of the adaptability and speed of evolution of English?

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Posted: 13 February 2015 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dr. Techie - 13 February 2015 08:40 AM

Would Deutsch kann (literally, “can German") without a sprechen, be normal idiomatic German?

Yes, just Ich kann Deutsch is quite ok.

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Posted: 13 February 2015 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Bin ich denn der einzigste hiere, wo Deutsch kann?

In German it would be Bin ich denn der einzige hier, der Deutsch kann?
You can’t say einzigste in German and wo means where

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Posted: 14 February 2015 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Ratatosk - 13 February 2015 01:55 PM

Bin ich denn der einzigste hiere, wo Deutsch kann?

In German it would be Bin ich denn der einzige hier, der Deutsch kann?
You can’t say einzigste in German and wo means where

Well yes of course! The book title is wrong deliberately and on purpose, and it uses errors that actually occur nowadays in German, like that super-superlative, and who knows, maybe in 100 years einzigste will be grammatical and correct German.

Because you know, English is not alone in its plight of centuries-long frightening decline. German goes down as well, and even faster than English if you believe some people.

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Posted: 14 February 2015 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The peeverati who have warned that nobody would be able to understand it any more were, of course, right.  If King Alfred were to time travel to the present day he would understand maybe one word in ten and have no idea how to connect them together.

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Posted: 14 February 2015 03:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dr. Techie - 13 February 2015 08:40 AM

Would Deutsch kann (literally, “can German") without a sprechen, be normal idiomatic German?  My knowledge of the language is too rusty to say.

Fairly sure this is an example of how “can” and “know” are related, in an uralt kind of way.

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Posted: 14 February 2015 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Iron Pyrite - 14 February 2015 03:31 AM

Dr. Techie - 13 February 2015 08:40 AM
Would Deutsch kann (literally, “can German") without a sprechen, be normal idiomatic German?  My knowledge of the language is too rusty to say.

Fairly sure this is an example of how “can” and “know” are related, in an uralt kind of way.

The German for the relevant meaning of “know” is kennen.

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Posted: 15 February 2015 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The German for the relevant meaning of “know” is kennen.

Well, it would take some digging to prove that there is an unbroken line of heritage between können, as in “know how to,” and kennen, as in “know.” But going back in time they were ultimately the same word, as were “can” and “know” in English. If you know how to do something then you are probably able to do it, or can do it.

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Posted: 15 February 2015 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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As in “Ken can’t can-can, but Connie can --- can you?”

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Posted: 16 February 2015 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Well, it would take some digging to prove that there is an unbroken line of heritage between können, as in “know how to,” and kennen, as in “know.” But going back in time they were ultimately the same word, as were “can” and “know” in English. If you know how to do something then you are probably able to do it, or can do it.

Grimm has an interesting detail on the history of the word kennen and können. Perhaps related to Kind (child) and conceive (denkbar) (engl “conceive” has this double meaning as well). Thus the recognition of a legitimate child might be claimed by a father by saying that “I know him.” Like the good Dr., my German is rusty and I’m out of my depth here.

In English (as in Hebrew) the word “know” can also mean to have sex, as in Adam “knew” his wife. I haven’t compared the OED to all this.

OED:

In sense 8 chiefly after biblical Hebrew yāda῾ in its extended sense ‘to have sexual intercourse with (a person)’. This sense is also found in Hellenistic Greek and classical Latin, both in biblical texts and secular authors (e.g. Menander, Plutarch, Catullus, Ovid). The biblical use is reflected in other European languages; compare corresponding uses of e.g. Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French conoistre (second half of the 12th cent. in Anglo-Norman in this sense; Middle French, French connaître ), Middle High German, German erkennen (frequent in Luther’s translation of the Bible).

Of course this is a kind of “minced-oath” I suppose, but its prevelence in so many Indo-European languages suggests a connection in meaning if not directly etymological.

[ Edited: 16 February 2015 08:44 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 16 February 2015 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Old English has several, similar verbs.

Cunnan is by far the most common. It means to know, and gives us the modern auxiliary verb can and cunning. It was also used to mean to have sexual relations. (The DOE doesn’t list this sexual sense as appearing in any of the OE translations of the Bible, but it does appear in the biblical poems and in hagiographies. Ælfric’s translation of Gen 4:1 reads: “soðlice Adam gestrynde Cain be Euan his gemæccan” (Adam acquired/begat Cain by Eve his mate.))

Gecnaewen (also cnaewen) gives us the modern verb to know. It means to recognize or be familiar with. The sense of sexual relations comes in during the thirteenth century, as a translation of the Vulgate use of cognoscere, as in Gen 4:1, “Adam vero cognovit Havam uxorem suam” (And Adam knew Eve, his wife).

But there is also cennan (and gecennan) which means to declare, make known, and to generate, bring forth, including to produce a child. It’s related to cynd/gecynd, which means nature, type, and is related to the modern kind.

The first two come from the PIE root gno- (know). Cennan comes from the PIE gen- (birth).

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