LINGUIST List 11.1702

Tue Aug 8 2000

Disc: Writing and Speech

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <>


  1. Douglas G. Wilson, Re: 11.1694, Disc: Writing and Speech

Message 1: Re: 11.1694, Disc: Writing and Speech

Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 10:08:05 -0400
From: Douglas G. Wilson <>
Subject: Re: 11.1694, Disc: Writing and Speech

A "very" interesting discussion. I add some perhaps puerile remarks.

(1) Anglo-Saxon intensives (perhaps one more learned in the field can correct me?):

Apparently there were a number of Anglo-Saxon intensives corresponding to "very

For example:

'thurhhefig' = 'thoroughly heavy' = 'very heavy'

'aelceald' = 'all [altogether] cold' = 'very cold'

'felageong' = ? = 'very young'

'foremanig' = 'fore many' = 'very many'

'fulbeohrt' = 'full[y] bright' = 'very bright'

'swidhe' = 'very' [cf. 'swidhre' = 'right-hand']

'tela' = ? = 'very'

'wel' = 'well' = 'very'


(2) Naturalization of words:

In my neighborhood, the word 'chauffeur' (like 'amateur') has full citizenship. For
example, my neighbor says: "Every weekend, we have to chauffeur the kids all over.
This weekend, my wife is the chauffeur." He pronounces "chauffeur" to rhyme with
"gopher", and there is no "chauffeuse". Still, R. Kaminski's illustrations are
valid in principle. In my neighborhood, a better example of a partly-naturalized
word might be 'masseur': the female masseur is a masseuse, and the words have
last-syllable ('French-style') accent. An American might say that 'masseur' retains
its green card. My neighbors also include an arbitrageur, an auteur, a danseur, a
frotteur ... opinions may vary as to the status of each of these ....

What about 'blond'/'blonde'? I think this will be virtually universally accepted as
fully English, yet it is often (variably) inflected in writing as if it were
[still] French! (Also 'brunet'/'brunette'.)

- Doug Wilson
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue