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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   germanic-root and romance-root redundant word pairings in English
Author:   Scott Newstrom
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Historical Linguistics

Query:   Hello,

I am trying to find a term to describe a particular phenomenon in the
English language, namely, when two nearly synonymous words are linked, one
of them having anglo-saxon roots and the other franco-latin roots. There
are many examples, including ''will and testament,'' ''give and bequeath,''
''love and amity.'' My hunch is that these redundancies are in some way a
by-product of the use of Latin and/or French in the medieval English
courts, as many of the pairings come from legal discourse (e.g. wills) or
other ceremonial events (e.g. marriages).

The rhetorical term ''hendiadys'' has been suggested, but that doesn't
describe this particular linguistic phenomenon; ''binomial'' is too broad,
and ''doublet'' refers to words derived from the same source at different
points (regal/royal) rather than two different language families. Other
people have suggested ''conjoined phrases'' and ''repetitive word pairs.''
None of these feels specific enough to this particular phenomenon.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

Scott Newstrom
LL Issue: 11.573
Date posted: 15-Mar-2000


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