Saturday, December 11, 2004

Linguistic Relativism

On Kim Hill this morning she interviewed a linguist who raised all sorts of interesting topics.
She was Kate Burridge who was the author of a book, Weeds in the Garden of Words.

She raised the fact that bought/brought were merging as past tense of buy and bring. Apparently she has seen bought used as a past tense to bring in the newspaper!

Apparently it is the case of mongrel grammar were a verb steals from another. It is a common phenomena in English. Go and went (which comes from the verb 'wend') and the Be family (is, are, am, was etc). A long time ago "will" replaced "shall". Will "gonna" now replace "will"? She thinks that is a possibility. Will "Would of" replace "would have"? She thinks no, it is ungrammatical. of not being an auxiliary verb. "Gotten" is older than "got" rather than an American neologism. "Gravytrain" originated from a misprint. Only 10% of slang words survive beyond its error. "That is just semantics" is not a proper statement. Where are your "loins"? Do women have a "groin" or just male sportsmen?

Here is a transcript of another interview with her:

Before that I listened to Max Cryer's segment on the origins of words (usually 9:05ish on Saturdays). There the origin of strange pronunciation such as "colonel", the origins of "corporal", how silly the phrase "a rate of knots" is.

Ah, how I love to ponder words.

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