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Of octopuses etc. (was: Adopting a plural)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, October 7, 2004, 18:24
On Wednesday, October 6, 2004, at 08:32 , Philippe Caquant wrote:

> --- John Cowan <jcowan@...> skrev: >> Ray Brown scripsit: > >>> It ought to have given French *pouf, but it >> didn't. The French has >>> changed gender and is _la pieuvre_ and I don't >> know the etymology. >> >> The online Tresor de la langue francaise at >> lists both _pieuvre_ >> (f.) and _poulpe_ >> (m.); though the latter is labeled "syn. cour. >> pieuvre', it is cited as >> recently as 1929. 16th-century forms _poupe_ and >> _pourpe_ are cited, >> so this may be a semi-learned form.
Yes, I discovered "poulpe" (which looks as tho it ought to be feminine, but ain't) after I sent my mail. It must be a semi-learned form as also, I think, Spanish 'pulpo' must be. One would have expected the Spanish to be *puelbo. the Portuguese & Italian forms are normal developments from a VL *pOlpo- or *pOlpU-. "pourpe" is strange & looks like a dialect vriant of 'poulpe' as also is 'poupe'.
> My etymological dictionnary says for "pieuvre": 1866, > Hugo, dialectal form from the Channel Islands; from > Latin polypus, through stages 'pueuve', 'pieuve' (like > 'yeux'), et with 'r' due to a false regression.
Interesting. It still doesn't explain the final -ve. We would expect -f. Also the word is feminine. Also - 'ueu' would derive from VL /O/ in an _unblocked syllable_. It suggests that in north Gaul, at least, the form was *pOlUpa (I'm guessing the [Y] was treated as [U] in popular speech and that we have *['pwEl@v@] --> [pwElv@]. Now early French [we] became [w9] without need of following -l- becoming [w]; so I wonder if -lv- become -vl- --> -vr- by metathesis.
> So it seems that Victor Hugo introduced the word in > French (in his book Les Travailleurs de la Mer, I > guess, where he describes an horrible and gigantic > octopus that probably never existed anywhere). > 'Poulpe' is used too.
So I discover. Anyway, it looks as tho 'pieuvre' is dialect. [snip]
> is or are hoodla, but I recall that for a long time, I > used to say "une agenda", until some charitable soul > told me that I should say "un agenda" (and why should > I say so, if it is a neutral plural ? It should be > "des agenda", or "des agendas" ?) Anyway, it just > sounds rather weird to have to say "un" with an ending > in -a, whatever the etymology.
le Canada?
> Just as it sounds weird > to have to tell a brave, strong and fierce young man > in uniform: "C'est vous la sentinelle ?" (are you the > sentry? fem.)
Agreed :)
> The word "pouf" exists in French, but it has nothing > to do with octopuses. It's a kind of soft seat and the > names seems to come from the noise you make when you > let your backside fall onto it.
We English have borrowed both soft seat and the word from you :) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]