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Please and thank you

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Please and thank you

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:00 pm

Today's discussion on Delancey Place is right up our alley. An analysis of what in semantics is called ceremonial language and the derivation of please and thank you.

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Re: Please and thank you

Postby Slava » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:11 pm

I'd like to see some back-up support for the conclusions drawn about these two words. Just a cursory glance at etymonline raises serious doubts in my mind as to just how academically strict Delancey Place is.
please (v.) early 14c., "to be agreeable," from Old French plaisir "to please, give pleasure to, satisfy" (11c., Modern French plaire, the form of which is perhaps due to analogy of faire), from Latin placere "to be acceptable, be liked, be approved," related to placare "to soothe, quiet" (source of Spanish placer, Italian piacere), possibly from PIE *plak-e- "to be calm," via notion of still water, etc., from root *plak- (1) "to be flat".

Meaning "to delight" in English is from late 14c. Inverted use for "to be pleased" is from c.1500, first in Scottish, and paralleling the evolution of synonymous like (v.). Intransitive sense (e.g. do as you please) first recorded c.1500; imperative use (e.g. please do this), first recorded 1620s, was probably a shortening of if it please (you) (late 14c.).

Verbs for "please" supply the stereotype polite word (e.g. "Please come in," short for may it please you to ...) in many languages (French, Italian), "But more widespread is the use of the first singular of a verb for 'ask, request' " [Buck, who cites German bitte, Polish proszę, etc.]. Spanish favor is short for hace el favor "do the favor." Danish has in this sense vær saa god, literally "be so good."

thank (v.) Old English þancian "to give thanks," from Proto-Germanic *thankojan (cf. Old Saxon thancon, Old Norse þakka, Danish takke, Old Frisian thankia, Middle Dutch, German danken "to thank"), from *thankoz "thought, gratitude," from PIE root *tong- "to think, feel." For sense evolution, cf. related Old English noun þanc, þonc, originally "thought," but by c.1000 "good thoughts, gratitude." The whole group is from the same root as think (q.v.). In ironical use, "to blame," from 1550s. To thank (someone) for nothing is recorded from 1703.

think (v.) Old English þencan "conceive in the mind, think, consider, intend" (past tense þohte, p.p. geþoht), probably originally "cause to appear to oneself," from Proto-Germanic *thankjan (cf. Old Frisian thinka, Old Saxon thenkian, Old High German denchen, German denken, Old Norse þekkja, Gothic þagkjan); Old English þencan is the causative form of the distinct Old English verb þyncan "to seem or appear" (past tense þuhte, past participle geþuht), from Proto-Germanic *thunkjan (cf. German dünken, däuchte). Both are from PIE *tong- "to think, feel" which also is the root of thought and thank. The two meanings converged in Middle English and þyncan "to seem" was absorbed, except for archaic methinks "it seems to me."
My main quibble is with the equation of thank and think. They may share a root, but they took different routes to get where they are now.


Last bumped by Slava on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:11 pm.
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