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Among/amongst (WAS: Vanoce prichazeji)

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  • melvyn.geo
    ... Like whilst as opposed to while in BritEng, it can sound more formal and nicely spoken than its counterpart, but that does not necessarily mean it
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 14, 2004
      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...>
      wrote:

      >
      > Does "amongst" (with -st) sound archaic in the UK? All the time,
      >some of the time, or none of the time?

      Like 'whilst' as opposed to 'while' in BritEng, it can sound more
      formal and 'nicely spoken' than its counterpart, but that does not
      necessarily mean it sounds archaic at all.

      I found the following on an American site:

      http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/amongst.html

      Although "amongst" has not dated nearly as badly as "whilst," it is
      still less common in standard speech than "among."

      ---

      And Michael Quinion has something to say on the history of these -st
      words. Would you agree that 'whilst' has 'died out' in the US or
      could it still be used for special effect?

      http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-whi2.htm

      [Q] From Gary Wade: "As an American who has spent some bit of time
      with British English, I have always wondered about the difference
      between while and whilst. Is there a relationship to formal and
      informal tenses left over from Old English? I also think of amid and
      amidst."
      [A] You're close to the target with your second example. Another pair
      of a similar kind is among and amongst (a third pair, again and
      against, has a similar origin but the sense of the words has since
      diverged).
      In both cases, the form ending in -st actually contains the -s of the
      genitive ending (which we still have today, though usually written
      as 's, of course). In Middle English, this was often added to words
      used as adverbs (as while became whiles, which often turned up in the
      compound adverbs somewhiles and otherwhiles). What seems to have
      happened is that a -t was later added in the south of England through
      confusion with the superlative ending -st (as in gentlest).
      Both while and whilst are ancient, though while is older. There's no
      difference in meaning between them. For reasons that aren't clear,
      whilst has survived in British English but has died out in the US.
      However, in Britain it is considered to be a more formal and literary
      word than its counterpart. I have a small weakness for it, for which
      I've been gently teased in the past.

      M.
    • James Kirchner
      ... The special effect whilst can be used for now is to satirize (or else just badly imitate) Shakespearean English. Otherwise we don t hear it coming from
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 14, 2004
        On Thursday, October 14, 2004, at 05:44 AM, melvyn.geo wrote:

        > Would you agree that 'whilst' has 'died out' in the US or
        > could it still be used for special effect?

        The special effect "whilst" can be used for now is to satirize (or else
        just badly imitate) Shakespearean English. Otherwise we don't hear it
        coming from people on this side of the ocean.

        In my family and social milieu, "amongst" is used mainly in prayers
        that contain "thou". I think you can still hear it used by some
        Americans, but like many forms that survive in British English, in the
        US it can sound uneducated, or distinctly "hillbilly", just like [Et]
        for "ate".

        In fact, it's sort of interesting how many forms that are apparently
        prestigious in Britain sound hillbilly to Americans when our own people
        say them. An educated American wouldn't be caught dead using the
        spelling pronunciation of some words the way British intellectuals do.
        For example, pronouncing the word "Byzantine" as [bajzaentajn] here
        would be a dead giveaway that someone lacks literacy skills, doesn't
        know the correct (i.e., etymological) pronunciation of the word, and
        has to fall back on a spelling pronunciation. Then I hear British
        scholars use that same pronunciation in historical documentaries on TV.

        This difference can even occur within the US. Students of mine from
        schools where most children speak so-called "African American
        Vernacular English" tell me that their teachers told them they sounded
        ignorant when they used past tense forms like "burnt", "learnt",
        "spilt", etc. In my neighborhood people will use both "burned" and
        "burnt" and not think that either one sounds ignorant, but most of them
        will think that the "-t" form sounds more "complete", as in a burned
        leaf being singed, but a burnt leaf being completely consumed.

        It's all a very fascinating mess.

        Jamie


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Michael Grant
        On Thu, 14 Oct 2004 07:04:12 -0400, James Kirchner ... By the way, just out of curiosity, do you or does anyone else here know if chvíle is really a cognate
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 14, 2004
          On Thu, 14 Oct 2004 07:04:12 -0400, James Kirchner
          <jpklists@...> wrote:
          >
          > The special effect "whilst" can be used for now is to satirize (or else
          > just badly imitate) Shakespearean English. Otherwise we don't hear it
          > coming from people on this side of the ocean.

          By the way, just out of curiosity, do you or does anyone else here
          know if 'chvíle' is really a cognate of 'while'?

          Michael

          --
          Every human being has the right to communicate in any medium. This
          right includes freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to
          seek, receive and impart information, regardless of frontiers.
        • David Daduc
          ... Chvíle. [...] Prejato ze starohornonemeckeho hwila (dnes nemecke Weile , anglicke while ), jez vychazi z indoevropskeho [can t type this] odpocivat .
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 14, 2004
            Michael Grant <mgrant@g...> wrote:

            > By the way, just out of curiosity, do you or does anyone else here
            > know if 'chvíle' is really a cognate of 'while'?

            Chvíle. [...] Prejato ze starohornonemeckeho 'hwila' (dnes
            nemecke 'Weile', anglicke 'while'), jez vychazi z indoevropskeho
            [can't type this] 'odpocivat'.
            (Cesky etymologicky slovik by Jiri Rejzek; published by Leda 2001)

            David
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