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Re: [ontolog-forum] (OT) German

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 00:50:01 -0500
Message-id: <478AF809.9010004@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ivan,    (01)

That is a very common process in languages that commonly construct
new words from basic roots.    (02)

IH> As Hungary was part of the Austrian Monarchy, they took over
 > German words, including the German construction like... Nasehorn.
 > So, for example, they looked at 'Nase + horn', they translated
 > the words 'Nase' (orr) and 'horn' (szarv) and they put the two
 > together again to create "orrszarvú" to mean... rhinoceros.    (03)

Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) had that ability, but after the Norman
conquest, so many French words were adopted into English that the
practice of forming new words from Germanic primitives was lost.    (04)

In fact, it is much more common to construct new English words
by putting together Greek and Latin roots than to use the old
roots.  As a result, about 50% of the entire Latin vocabulary
has been adopted into English -- sometimes in two forms, one
from Old French and another directly from Latin.    (05)

The English word 'hydrogen', for example, is formed from Greek
roots, which the Germans translated to 'Wasserstoff' and the
Russians translated to 'vodarod'.    (06)

But it's hard to call such compounds "illogical".  The number
of primitive roots in any language is usually quite small,
and it is necessary to stretch their meaning by metaphorical
means in order to build up a large vocabulary.    (07)

Even scientific words often contain mistakes in their derivation.
The word 'oxygen' (German 'Sauerstoff' and Russian 'kislorod')
reflects an old idea that all acids contained oxygen.  That is
true of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and nitric acid (HNO3), but not
of hydrocloric acid (HCl).  It would be more accurate to switch
the words hydrogen and oxygen because all acids contain hydrogen,
and water (H2O) is 89% oxygen by weight.    (08)

John Sowa    (09)

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