Dearth
Posted: 13 March 2018 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Never made the connection but it makes perfect sense. In a shortage things are dear as they’re scarce, hence dearth. In fact one of the obsolete senses is dearness, costliness, high price. How did I miss that one? OED has the details.

Etymology: Middle English derþe , not recorded in Old English (where the expected form would be díerðu , díerð , dýrð : compare 14th cent. dierþe in Ayenb.); but corresponding formally to Old Norse dýrð with sense ‘glory’, Old Saxon diuriđa , Old High German tiurida , Middle High German tiûrde , Middle German tûrde glory, honour, value, costliness; abstract noun < West Germanic diuri , Old English díere , déore , dear adj.1: see -th suffix1.
The form derke in Gen. & Exod. (bis) and Promp. Parv. seems to be a scribal error for derþe, derðe; but its repeated occurrence is remarkable.

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Posted: 13 March 2018 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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etymonline simplifies it a bit:

dearth (n.)
mid-13c., derthe “scarcity” (originally used of famines, when food was costly because scarce; extended to other situations of scarcity from early 14c.), abstract noun formed from root of Old English deore “precious, costly” (see dear) + abstract noun suffix -th (2). Common Germanic formation, though not always with the same sense (cognates: Old Saxon diurtha “splendor, glory, love,” Middle Dutch dierte, Dutch duurte, Old High German tiurida “glory").

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Posted: 13 March 2018 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The form derke in Gen. & Exod. (bis) and Promp. Parv. seems to be a scribal error for derþe, derðe; but its repeated occurrence is remarkable.
I’m interested in this. What does (bis) mean? What translation contained the “scribal error”?

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Posted: 14 March 2018 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What does (bis) mean?

It’s Latin for ‘twice.’

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Posted: 14 March 2018 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What translation contained the “scribal error”?

Probably not a “translation” but rather a transcription, a copy of one manuscript (now lost) to another. Scribal errors in copying manuscripts, as you might imagine, are quite common.

The only extant copy of the Middle English poem Genesis and Exodus appears in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 444. That manuscript dates to before 1350, but the poem was probably written c. 1250.

The earliest extant copy of Promptorium Parvulorum, an English-Latin bilingual dictionary, appears in London, British Library, Harley 221, which dates to around 1440.

These dates are all earlier than the earliest known citation for dearth.

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Posted: 14 March 2018 11:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It’s interesting how some words develop from an initial sense to one that follows naturally from that sense. Clumsy is another, at first meaning ‘benumbed or stiffened with cold’ and thence acting as if stiffened with cold, ie clumsily.

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Posted: 15 March 2018 02:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dear > dearth
weal > wealth
wide > width
steal > stealth
et cetera

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