(In)flammable (WAS: Early Conlang Archives)
|Date:||Thursday, March 11, 1999, 13:48|
Sally Caves <scaves@...> wrote:
> In- in Latin is just a such a prefix, both intensifying and negating.
> means "likely to inflame." (the propensatory? <G>). But inedible...
> not "likely to eat"! Confusion about this word has caused many Americansto
> resort to "flammable," which I think is bad news, because if they nowwrite
> that something is "inflammable," what do they mean? Will or won't your
> kid's pajamas burst into flames? GGGGG
The inflammable=fammable issue is one of those curious
"contradictions" of the English language that I've heard of.
The other one is "burn down" = (more or less) "burn up" (I
know they have different connotations, but the meaning is
actually the same!)
As for the "flammable" thing, in Spanish we say "inflamable";
I've never heard "ininflamable". Probably "no inflamable" would
do, but in some cases you hear "incombustible" or even "igni'fugo".
But "incombustible" has other connotations: it means "that won't
burn" in a figurative sense; in Spanish "quemarse" [(get) burn(ed)]
means "to get caught in a dishonest practice", so you might
hear "un poli'tico incombustible" (an incombustible politician)
for some recurring characters in local politics who keep winning
elections or getting offices even after several scandals...
I don't think you can say pajamas are "incombustibles" or
"igni'fugos" in Spanish -- you make it sound as if you were talking
about paint or wallpaper.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A study of economics usually reveals that the
best time to buy anything is last year.