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Under what king, bezonian? 
Posted: 02 May 2017 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This line of Pistol’s is one of my favourite in Shakespeare. Probably not a month goes by but I’ll bark at my wife, “Under what king, bezonian? Speak or die!”. (She’s a long-suffering woman.) There’s just something about the phrase that tickles me as much as Pistol’s character itself.

Anyway I’ve known for years that bezonian meant a fresh recruit (squaddy we used to call them) or, as in Shakespeare, a beggar or knave, but I never thought about the origin of the word. As often in these cases it was right under my nose (or rather ear) all the time. I’m addicted to opera, Italian mainly, and I must have heard the word bisogno, Italian for need, a thousand times or more yet never once connected the two, which apart from that last consonant are almost identical in pronunciation. Sometimes I am a dolt.

Bezonian is obsolete now (although not within these walls!). Here’s the relevant stuff from OED.

bezonian, n.

Etymology: < Italian bisogno, Spanish bisoño (see besonio n.). The ending is perhaps -an suffix, as in Oxonian, etc.

Obs.

592 T. Nashe Pierce Penilesse (Brit. Libr. copy) sig. H, Trod vnder foote of euery inferiour Besonian.

besonio, besognio, n.

Etymology: variant of bisognio n., < Italian bisogno ‘need, want; also, a fresh needy souldier. Bisogni , new leuied souldiers such as come needy to the war’ (Florio). ‘Applied in derision to young soldiers who landed in Italy from Spain ill accoutred and in want of everything’ ( Vocab. della Crusca.) Hence also Spanish bisoño , Portuguese bisonho , French bisogne . (The conjecture that bisogno was an Italian corruption of French ˈbecjaune , bejan n., is baseless.)

Obs.

1. A raw soldier.

[1591 W. Garrard & R. Hitchcock Arte of Warre 170 A raw souldier and Bisognio.]
1603 R. Johnson tr. G. Botero Hist. Descr. Worlde 55 A base Besonio, fitter for the spade then the sword.

2. (term of contempt) A needy beggar; a base worthless fellow. See bezonian n.

a1625 F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Four Plays in One in Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Dddddddd2v/2, Draw my sword of Fate on a Pesant, a Besognio.

A lot of time spent on an obsolete term? Maybe. It’s always worth that time though for a word you have an affection for.

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Posted: 02 May 2017 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Rilchiam!

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Posted: 02 May 2017 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m addicted to opera, Italian mainly…

Is there any other kind?

I say this with tongue-in-cheek, but being Italian I’m assuredly biased. Opera for me is only Italian: Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, et al. 
After all, Italians invented opera and the origin of the word is Italian.

When I listen to German opera I can only think, “Ridi, Pagliaccio,
sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t’avvelena il cor!”

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Posted: 03 May 2017 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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At the risk of bringing language back to the discussion, the Italians also took a plural word, opera, plural of opus, made it singular and gave it its own plural, opere.

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Posted: 03 May 2017 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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At the risk of bringing language back to the discussion, the Italians also took a plural word, opera, plural of opus, made it singular and gave it its own plural, opere.

That actually makes me feel a lot better about panini used as a singular noun.

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Posted: 03 May 2017 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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At the risk of bringing language back to the discussion, the Italians also took a plural word, opera, plural of opus, made it singular and gave it its own plural, opere.

“The Italian word opera means “work”, it derives fro the Latin opera, a singular noun meaning work.

OED:

“Origin: A borrowing from Italian. Etymon: Italian opera.
Etymology: < Italian opera (1639 in sense ‘composition in which poetry, dance, and music are combined’, 1808 in sense ‘opera-house’; 1304 in sense ‘work, labour, toil, a work produced’) < classical Latin opera activity, effort, labour, work, a work produced < the base of oper- , opuswork (see opus n.). Compare French opéra (1669 denoting the operatic genre, 1694 in sense ‘opera-house’; 1659 in sense ‘excellent thing’).”

That actually makes me feel a lot better about panini used as a singular noun.

But in Italian it is not used as a singular noun. When one orders a sandwich in Italian one asks for, un panino.

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Posted: 03 May 2017 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Logophile - 03 May 2017 10:18 AM


“The Italian word opera means “work”, it derives fro the Latin opera, a singular noun meaning work.
[...]
But in Italian it is not used as a singular noun. When one orders a sandwich in Italian one asks for, un panino.

But that’s the point. Italian took a Latin plural word, opera (works) and made it singular (work). In the same way English took the Italian plural panini and made it singular.

(Not quite the same, as technically Italian is Latin, just at a later stage of development, so opera isn’t exactly a borrowing, but it’s essentially the same process.)

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Posted: 03 May 2017 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think the use of the words “borrowing” and “loan-word” for the adoption of a word from one language into another, tends to muddy the waters. “Borrowing” usually implies a debt or obligation, which must be repaid. In the case of a loan-word, there is no such obligation on anybody’s part. If English speakers want to talk about “a panini”, there is no rule, and no power on Earth, that can stop them from doing so.  Pedants may put up a fuss — but the fuss is meaningless, and wholly without value.

I think “adopting” might be a truer expression for the migration of a word (whether modified, or altered, or not) from one language to another. The “borrowing” of words is a 100% one-way transaction (as is often the “borrowing” of money by children from their parents ;-)

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Posted: 03 May 2017 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I don’t see that distinction between borrowing and loan. You’re right that adopt might be more apt metaphor, but we’re not going to change the standard linguistic labels for the practice.

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Posted: 04 May 2017 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Just so that Doc T doesn’t feel ignored, I want to say that I appreciated his ”Rilchiam." (Now, that’s my kind of internet snark!)

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Posted: 04 May 2017 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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languagehat - 04 May 2017 05:54 AM

I want to say that I appreciated his ”Rilchiam." (Now, that’s my kind of internet snark!)

The tacit attribution, however Shallow, is also appreciated.

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Posted: 04 May 2017 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks for linking it, lh, I’d either forgotten the reference in Carroll or quite possibly hadn’t read the preface in the first place.

Bravo, Doc!

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Posted: 04 May 2017 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Glad to see it didn’t go unnoticed (or softly and suddenly vanish away).

I’m afraid I know Carroll better than I know Shakespeare, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

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Posted: 06 May 2017 01:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’m afraid I know Carroll better than I know Shakespeare

May I hazard a guess that you were taught Shakespeare, rather than Carroll, at school? All too often, the best way to scare a young mind away from Shakespeare, is to include an autopsy of one or more of the Bard’s works in the school curriculum.

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Posted: 06 May 2017 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Yes, I tend to value more highly (or at least think more fondly of) the writers I discovered on my own as opposed to having forced down my throat in high school (I’m lookin’ at you, Dickens).

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Posted: 06 May 2017 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I had such a prejudice against Dickens that I didn’t start reading his novels until I was about 20/21. Although that may have been owing not to school but the the general prejudice that most young people had at that time to all things Victorian (we were still being ruled in the 50s by people who had been raised by Victorian parents and had imbibed Victorian values with their mothers’ milk.) As well as Dickens I shunned Browning, Tennyson, Thackeray, Macaulay, etc. I thank the gods that my prejudice didn’t last, I shudder when I think what I might have lost.

And is there any scientist or mathematician that doesn’t love Carroll? Although thank goodness that isn’t a prerequisite for loving him. He has huge appeal for those with logical minds (quite naturally of course).

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