Among/amongst (WAS: Vanoce prichazeji)
- --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...>
>Like 'whilst' as opposed to 'while' in BritEng, it can sound more
> Does "amongst" (with -st) sound archaic in the UK? All the time,
>some of the time, or none of the time?
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:
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?
[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
[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
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.
- On Thursday, October 14, 2004, at 05:44 AM, melvyn.geo wrote:
> Would you agree that 'whilst' has 'died out' in the US orThe special effect "whilst" can be used for now is to satirize (or else
> could it still be used for special effect?
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]
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.
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- 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
> 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.
know if 'chvíle' is really a cognate of 'while'?
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.
- Michael Grant <mgrant@g...> wrote:
> By the way, just out of curiosity, do you or does anyone else hereChvíle. [...] Prejato ze starohornonemeckeho 'hwila' (dnes
> know if 'chvíle' is really a cognate of 'while'?
nemecke 'Weile', anglicke 'while'), jez vychazi z indoevropskeho
[can't type this] 'odpocivat'.
(Cesky etymologicky slovik by Jiri Rejzek; published by Leda 2001)