Re: THEORY: counterpick (was: Re: THEORY: picking nits)
|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, July 13, 1999, 5:16|
At 5:52 pm -0400 12/7/99, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond A. Brown wrote:
>> Indeed, the same Old French words gives English triplets:
>> 1. foible (noun) - a weakness, a penchant, a failing.
>> 2. faible (noun) - the part of a foil blade between the middle & the point
>> (i.e. the weak part).
>> 3. feeble (adj.) - weak, vacillating, lacking force.
>My (U.S.) dictionary spells sense 2 "foible" also, with the same pronunciation
>as sense 1.
I'm not au fai with the jargon of fencing & sword-play etc. There may be a
Chambers English Dictionary does indeed give 'foible' as an alternative
noun for 'faible' /fEbl/, i.e. 'foible' is given with meanings 1 & 2, while
'faible' is given with meaning 2 only.
I must confess I hadn't noted the pronunciation Chambers gives for 'faible'
until this morning! It's too close to the modern French to be anything but
a much later borrowing.
The earlier 'faible' taken into middle English developed as one would
expect /fE:bl/ --> /fe:bl/ --> /fi:bl/, hence our modern 'feeble' (tho one
might expect it to have retained the Middle English spelling 'feable', cf.
reason <-- raison, season <-- saison, etc; but the vagaries of our spelling
never surprise me).
I guess this is another instance where America has held onto an earlier
tradition while some in this country have adopted a Frenchified form
because it was 'more fashionable' - like the replacing of 'program' by the
French 'programme' :)
>A quick Alta Vista search shows one use of "foible a
>foible", and no uses of "faible a faible" in English documents.
Probably because North Americans produce more web documents than the rest
of the anglophone world :-)
>In French documents, "faible a faible" is found 4 times.
Because 'foible' dropt out of French use many centuries ago, I guess :)
A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
[J.G.Hamann - 1760]