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Re: Linguistic terms (was: Formal vs. natural languages)

From:Paul Kershaw <ptkershaw@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 13:19
----- Original Message ----

> From: R A Brown <ray@...> > To: > Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:47:46 AM > Subject: Linguistic terms (was: Formal vs. natural languages) > > Dirk Elzinga wrote: > > My point was that 'ergative' may be a misleading label (especially for one > > who knows the etymology) > > No more 'misleading' than "accusative", surely? In fact, I'd say less > misleading since the person-in-the-street probably has little feel for > the etymology of "ergative" but s/he will be quite familiar with the > verb 'to accuse.'
So if we're going to club words over the head and use them for our own devices, we should be ransacking Latin or Greek rather than English. ;) In all seriousness, I agree with Dirk's actual point; there are many technical terms which, when compared to their meanings in colloquial English, don't make a lot of sense. Most of these we've inherited from forebears who were infatuated with Latin grammarians, and most of these I reckon make more sense in Latin or Greek, but have stopped making sense because of diachronic semantic shifts from Latin to English (just as the command "inspire, expire" makes sense to both a Francophone and an Anglophone, but with very different meanings). I got all that. :) But yeah, I felt like he was picking on "ergative" specifically. :( Bully! -- Paul