to be or not to be
Posted: 03 February 2008 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1263
Joined  2007-03-21

The most irregular of all our verbs is the most fundamental and likely the oldest. Dave’s article on this verb is helpful, but I’m wondering about the roots of this odd verb.

The reason our English verb “to be” is so strangely conjugated is because it has three distinct roots says Dave in his October 2007 entry above. 

“es-” and “wes-” combined before the Old English period to become Wesan (interesting that Wesen in German is “being”—(though Heidegger chose “Sein”.) So, this is likely of Germanic roots.  The plural is “sind” or “sint” which seals the Germanic connection AFAICT.

But where does “beon” come from?  It still has Germanic echoes in such conjugations as “bist” (2nd person singular “du bist") so maybe both of these forms are Germanic.

Still “es-” seems Latin somehow.  I’m showing my ignorance of these matters, so bear with me.

[ Edited: 03 February 2008 04:48 PM by Oecolampadius ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 February 2008 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

The first sentence of the OED etymology might be helpful. 

An irregular and defective verb, the full conjugation of which in modern Eng. is effected by a union of the surviving inflexions of three originally distinct and independent verbs, viz. (1) the original Aryan substantive verb with stem es-, Skr. as-, ‘s-, Gr. ἐσ-, L. es-, ‘s-, OTeut. *es-, ‘s-; (2) the verb with stem wes-, Skr. vas- to remain, OTeut. wes-, Gothic wis-an to remain, stay, continue to be, OS., OE., OHG. wesan, OFris. wes-a, ON. ver-a; (3) the stem beu- Skr. bhū-, bhaw-, Gr. φυ-, L. fu-, OTeut. *beu-, beo-, OE. béo-n to become, come to be.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 February 2008 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  2007-01-29

Also helpful, the AHD appendix of IE roots: *es-, *wes-, *bheu-.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 February 2008 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1263
Joined  2007-03-21

Many thanks to you both.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Woe is I      Tie one on ››