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Where Words Come From October 6, 2006

Posted by ionicflux in Discovery.
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The English language has developed from an Anglo-Saxon base of common words: household words, parts of the body, common animals, natural elements, most pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions and auxiliary verbs. Other modern words in English have developed from five sources. These are discussed below.

Words Created From Nothing

Examples of words that have just appeared in the language out of nothing are byte, dog (replacing the earlier hund), donkey, jam, kick, log, quasar, googol, and yuppie. The latter is an acronym (a word made from its initials).Shakespere coined over 1600 words including countless, critical, excellent, lonely, majestic, obscene.

From Ben Johnson we got damp, from Isaac Newton centrifugal and from Thomas More: explain and exact.

Words Created In Error

The vegetable pease was thought to be a plural so that the individual item in the pod was given the name pea. The verb laze was erroneously created from the adjective lazy. The word buttonhole was a mis-hearing of button-hold.

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