The fruit of the loom and other looming revelations: Part 1

When we deal with old languages, Jacob Grimm’s rule works rather well. He suggested that homonyms are usually related words whose meanings had diverged too far for us to recognize their original
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When we deal with old languages, Jacob Grimm’s rule works rather well. He suggested that homonyms are usually related words whose meanings had diverged too far for us to recognize their original unity. One can demonstrate the validity of this idea even while looking at some modern forms. For instance, autumn is called fall in American English, and it takes minimal effort to connect the season’s name with “the fall of the leaf.” By contrast, spring “to jump,” spring “the source of a stream,” and spring “a season of the year” have almost come apart, and people hardly think of them as related, though of course they are. Obviously, not all homonyms are related. For example, we have sound, as in the sounds of music; sound, as in Long Island Sound; sound, as in sound judgment, and sound “to probe the depth of” (one can also sound one’s colleagues as to their intentions). Some of them may be related, or perhaps each word has its own etymology, even if our intuition suggests the possibility. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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