Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pougetoux

Ever since she got interviewed on TV ten days ago, the 19-year-old president of the student union at Université Paris-Sorbonne, Maryam Pougetoux, has been making headlines - not for anything she said, but simply for wearing a hijab while she said it. In the name of defending freedom and feminism, the Minister of the Interior himself had the gall to criticise this brave young Frenchwoman as "marking her difference from French society". But as a historical linguist watching all this, I found myself wondering: where does the name "Pougetoux" come from? It turns out it can be traced several thousand years back:

In the course of this long history, no less than three different diminutive suffixes have been accreted on to the original root (although I'm not quite sure about the identity of that -oux.) I wonder whether that generalizes; do words meaning "hill" tend to accrete more and more diminutive suffixes as they develop over time?

9 comments:

minus273 said...

Is that what's usually written in Oc. as -on?

Unknown said...

That reminds me of the word "aujourd'hui", which is redundant because "hui" meant "today". Is there a name for this sort of thing in historical linguistics?

John Cowan said...

Unknown: Smashing a phrase into a word is called univerbation: English examples include going to > gonna, all way(s) > always, on to > onto. But I don't know any name for the specialized case in which the new word is a synonym of one of the old words. Such a univerbation in process is French au mois d'août 'in the month of August' > /ɔmwadu(t)/ 'August'. The collapse of /au̯gustus/ to /u(t)/ is quite remarkable, much more so than /hok dieː/ > /hodieː/ > /ɥi/.

Benjamin Geer said...

John: thanks (sorry, that was me as "Unknown"), what I meant was adding something to an existing word so that the result means the same thing as the original word. In Lameen's example: adding a diminutive suffix to a word that already has one. Or in English, when children say "bestest" to mean "best". I was wondering if there might be many such examples in diachronic morphology.

David Marjanović said...

the Minister of the Interior himself had the gall to criticise this brave young Frenchwoman as "marking her difference from French society"

Wow, what a conformist.

Occitan puech / pueg / puog / poujhë "hill"

...Is that related to Puigdemont?

I was wondering if there might be many such examples in diachronic morphology.

Plenty. Half of the vowels in German modal verbs come from several rounds of analogical umlaut & ablaut.

/hok dieː/

/hoːk dieː/ even.

Etienne said...

Benjamin Greer: the phenomenon you describe is common, but I know of no technical term to describe it. An example not involving diminutives or plurals is the change of Classical Latin "esse" "to be, infinitive" (where es- is the root and -se the marker of the infinitive) to Vulgar Latin */essere/, where a "-re" ending (historically deriving from the same "-se" ending, which, being in intervocalic position in verbs other than "esse", shifted -quite regularly- to /re/: compare Latin "eram" "I was", from earlier */esam/) was added to "esse", yielding what, diachronically speaking, consists of the root and two separate Latin reflexes of the same infinitive-marking suffix.

David: your guess about the relationship of Occitan "puech / pueg / puog / poujhë" and Catalan "puig" seems to be right, if this source is to be believed-

http://www.diccionari.cat/lexicx.jsp?GECART=0111220

Benjamin Geer said...

David and Etienne: Thank you. How about this:

"Redundant derivation applies when an affix is attached that contributes the same meaning as another affix which has already been added to the base of derivation."

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0013838X.2011.564776

Abba said...

Occitan puech / pueg / puog / poujhë "hill" is indeed related to Puigdemont's name. Catalan puig means "mountain", and has diminutives, including putxet. The online dictionary http://dcvb.iecat.net/ has much more info on this word.

John Cowan said...

Another case that comes to mind is abeille. The straight-up descendant of apis would be simply [ɛ], which is unusably short. So the Occitan word abelha was borrowed, which took the strategy of adding an otherwise meaningless diminutive. This is not redundant derivation as such, but rather phonologically driven derivation that is semantically bleached.