A few more of our shortest words: “if,” “of,” and “both”

The post of 21 June 2017 on the “dwarfs of our vocabulary” was received so well that I decided to return to them in the hope that the continuation will not disappoint our readers. Those dwarfs have
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The post of 21 June 2017 on the “dwarfs of our vocabulary” was received so well that I decided to return to them in the hope that the continuation will not disappoint our readers. Those dwarfs have a long history and have been the object of several tall tales. If Like most subordinate conjunctions, if conveys a rather abstract meaning. Its bulky, bookish synonyms provided (that) and in case of have little virtue. Sometimes it is possible to do without if by inverting the word order, as in “were I (had I been) there…,” “should you ever meet him…” and so forth, but in most cases, when we want to introduce a conditional clause, we say if. The word has a respectable ancestry. Thus, in Old English, we find gif with the puzzling initial g-, pronounced as Modern Engl. y– in yes.  (Although this additional y- was not restricted to the conjunction, its appearance is always a riddle.) All “dwarfs” tended to interact with their likes as regards both meaning and pronunciation. For. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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