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12044Re: [Czechlist] Address - origin?

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  • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
    Jul 31, 2002
      In a message dated 7/31/02 4:12:08 AM, gjicinska@... writes:

      >Waking up too early this morning I decided to stay in bed and think rather
      >than get up and risk hurting myself :-) And while my brain was exercising
      >its capacity, I suddenly realised I don't know where the word ADDRESS came
      >from and why it has two pairs of double letters. Now I know if I go to
      >the library I'm sure to find the answer .. but I'd also like to ask your
      >on WHY.

      According to Webster's New World Dictionary, the etymology (in reverse order)
      goes like this:

      Miiddle English "adressen", to guide or direct
      Old French "adresser" (a- meaning "to" + dresser)
      "dresser" is from Vulgar Latin "directiare" meaning to direct, which is from
      Latin "dirigere"

      You can see that the double D is not original. My guess as to its origin is
      that it was added in the 18th or 19th century in the mistaken belief that it
      was originally there and got lost. Whoever did this would have believed that
      the "a-" at the beginning must have originated as the Latin word "ad" and
      then decided there should be two D's there, one from "ad" and one from
      "dresser". This was during a period of madness when there were a lot of
      misguided attempts to make English conform to Latin. "Address" was not the
      only word that got an extra letter. The B in "debt" is not original either.
      That word comes from Old French "dette". These same mischief-makers decided
      that its Latin equivalent had a B and that the B should be "restored" in
      English, even though it was never there to begin with.

      Such erudite idiots tinkered with the grammar, too. They are the reason why
      standard English no longer uses double negatives (although colloquial
      dialects retain them). They also stopped the common practice of saying, "You
      is wrong about that," to one person and, "You are wrong about that," to more
      than one (i.e., making the verb with "you" conform to the number of people
      being addressed). They were the first ones to start claiming, based on
      analogy with Latin, that English sentences should not end in prepositions,
      even though it's natural in English and the Germanic languages it's closest
      to. They also were the ones who came up with the idea that you shouldn't
      split an infinitive. (They said it was because Latin didn't do it, but Latin
      doesn't have two-word infinitives.) And the biggest thing they did was make
      people feel they should say, "Whom do you want to see?" even though it had
      been normal to use "who" in the position before the verb regardless of case
      at least since Shakespeare's time (and still is today).

      So there's your long-winded answer.

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