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A few comments on Ladies and Gents...

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DrPL
1117298.  Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:03 pm Reply with quote

Hi,
Long time no see!

I note that QI says that there are no recorded Anglo Saxon swear words. but I am not 100% sure if this is right or not. I remember watching the excellent Melvyn Bragg TV series over a decade ago in which there was a mention of at least one swear word. I am hedging my bets as I have never seen the series again so I don't know if it was Anglo Saxon or not, but the word was "s**t", pronounced, I recall, something like "skeet."

The other thing was U-Boar crews being attacked by armed vessels masquerading as merchant ships. This is only true for the start of World War 1. I did some research on the impact that the Lusitania sinking had on sea warfare and this is what I wrote: "Immediately after the sinking [of the Lusitania], President Wilson condemned the German attack. He rejected [the German] suggestion that the ship was carrying contraband, and that the crippling British blockade of Germany was illegal. The Germans feared US entry into the war and in 1916, after a French ferry was torpedoed resulting in more American casualties, they eventually agreed to a hiatus on attacking passenger ships and adopted a protocol to allow the crews of merchant ships to escape prior to their vessel being sunk if a search found weapons on board.

The matter remained stable until February 1917 when Germany's policy changed. Any ship in designated war zones were liable to be sunk."

So at the end of the war, there was a policy of sinking any ship, unannounced and immediately.

Best wishes

Paul
--
http://www.paullee.com

 
Jenny
1117482.  Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:04 pm Reply with quote

Welcome back DrPL :-)

 
DrPL
1117490.  Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:27 pm Reply with quote

Hi Jenny, thanks!

Best wishes

Paul
--
http://www.paullee.com

 
suze
1117520.  Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:06 pm Reply with quote

On the matter of Old English curse words. What is absolutely not claimed is that no Anglo-Saxon ever spoke an uncouth word. They almost certainly did, but they didn't write their rude words down and so we don't know what they were. Few other than priests were literate at that time, and priests a) were not really supposed to use profane language, and b) probably didn't wish to draw attention to their unholy behaviour if they did.

It's entirely correct that Old English had a verb scitan (pronounced SHEET-ahn, probably) meaning "to defecate". From this verb we derive the word shit. But the crucial point is that the verb scitan was not impolite.

It only came to be considered so after the Norman Conquest. Polite society filled the English language with words from French and Latin, and alternatives from Old English came to be seen as lower class and ultimately as vulgar. There are plenty of other examples of this phenomenon.

 
AlmondFacialBar
1117624.  Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:15 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It's entirely correct that Old English had a verb scitan (pronounced SHEET-ahn, probably) meaning "to defecate". From this verb we derive the word shit. But the crucial point is that the verb scitan was not impolite.

It only came to be considered so after the Norman Conquest. Polite society filled the English language with words from French and Latin, and alternatives from Old English came to be seen as lower class and ultimately as vulgar. There are plenty of other examples of this phenomenon.


Interestingly enough, Low Saxon still uses that exact word, and it's thought of as considerably less vulgar than its German cognate, scheißen, even to ears from south of the Benrath Line. Would be interesting to find out why.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
CharliesDragon
1117655.  Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:19 am Reply with quote

In Norwegian "skitt" (pron. "shitt") is eqivalent to dirt in English, while "drit(t)" is "shit," although English get dirt from drit...

 
suze
1117711.  Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:03 pm Reply with quote

Metathesis rides again!

Old English had two verbs meaning "to defecate". One of them was scitan as above, and the other was dritan, analagous to that Norwegian word. It's interesting that the two words have developed in opposite ways in English and in Norwegian.

At some point, the two words swapped meanings in English too. In OE sources, the noun scite only means animal dung, while drit is used for human feces. But by about 1300, drytt is animal dung and to call a person a drytt was offensive, while human feces was schitte.

My dictionaries tell me that some German dialects still have a noun Driss for shit, and also have a verb drieten. How well known and well used those words are is probably a question for AFB.

 
AlmondFacialBar
1117712.  Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:10 pm Reply with quote

Driss is a very common word for shit in the Ripuaric dialects (languages for the Luxemburgers), but drieten, no... Not really in use these days. Wiktionary tells me that it's Low German, which may well be the case, but if it is it has been out of use for a very long time, or is part of a dialect far away from mine (North of the Elbe maybe, they're culturally closer to Scandinavia there).

As it happens, I found myself wondering about the etymology of Driss just last week. Now I know.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
CharliesDragon
1117798.  Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:04 pm Reply with quote

Drieten sounds a lot like a Norwegian grasping for the correct word and just Germanifying the Norwegian word. I like it, though.

 

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