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Re: USAGE: Speak-Say-Tell

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Saturday, December 11, 2004, 22:07
On Wed, 8 Dec 2004 21:13:04 +0100, Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>

>On Wed, 8 Dec 2004 11:30:26 -0700, Muke Tever <hotblack@...> wrote: >> On Wed, 8 Dec 2004 12:23:46 -0500, Geoff Horswood
<geoffhorswood@...> wrote:
>> > What about other natlangs? >> >> In Spanish the ordinary words seem to be "hablar" (speak) and "decir" >> (say, tell). > >German also has this two-way division into "sprechen" (speak) and >"sagen" (say, tell). There's also "erzählen", but that's more "tell" >in the sense of "recount", as in "tell a story", not so much "tell >someone that [X happened]".
I had an inclination that the original meaning of English "tell" was "recount, narrate." Now I'm confirmed by the MSN Dictionary: "Old English tellan , from a prehistoric Germanic word meaning 'put in order' (both in narration and counting), which is also the ancestor of English tale and talk" ( There is another primary usage of English "tell" - to issue an instruction or a command. For example, "I told him to keep that door shut!" Perhaps the development was like this: recount > remind > command. In the sentence above, "him" is actually an indirect object. - Rob