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French Île, Isle, English Isle and Island

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Aoyama, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    Outsider is very right.
    Phonetic changes can be found (and read in German ...) in Grimm's phonetic change laws which are still very pertinent.
    One comment, isle in medieval French (in fact, spelling still used until the end of the 18th century though the pronounciation had changed already) is a different word from isle in English. The two words fusionned together but were originally not related ...
     
  2. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    Can I ask what your authority is for this claim? Isle in English is most certainly cognate with île in French, its origin being a loan from Old French. The /s/ phoneme had already been lost in Old French, and the earliest attestations of this word in Middle English are all spelt without 's'. The 's' returned to the spelling of both the French and English words with the classicising tendencies Renaissance. I wasn't aware of any controversy over this, and I am astonished to hear that English isle and French île are held to be unrelated in some quarters.
     
  3. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Hello,

    Etymonline.com has this to say;
     
  4. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    It is well established that English island is etymologically unrelated to both English isle and French île, but I'm not sure how that is pertinent here.

    What Aoyama claimed is that English isle and French île are themselves unrelated, or rather, to quote him, 'The two words fusionned together but were originally not related.' I would contend that the former was a borrowing from the Old French ancestor of the latter, and therefore the two are ultimately have the same source.
     
  5. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    Thank you very much to both of you, Flaminius and radagasty ... To give me some credence on the matter, especially radagasty, who seems to contradict himself (a little ...).
    Exactly right ...

    Some more food for thought :
    There is a long narrative etymology of "island" presented in The
    Merriam-Webster new book of word histories (Springfield [Mass.]:
    Merriam-Webster, c1991) p. 255f.

    The first syllable comes from the OE "ig," a distinct word meaning
    "island" ("igland"="island land") The "s" comes from the subsequent
    orthographic conflation of the OE "igland" with the MF "isle," which had
    been borrowed into ME.

    Thus, surprisingly, "isle" and "island" are etymologically distinct.
    Anyway, neither has anything to do with the ON "is," according to the OED. By the
    way, the New shorter OED (OUP, 1993), based on the OED but edited
    separately, generally concurs with M-W on the etymology of "island."
     
  6. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    I'm not quite sure how the etymology of English island is relevant here. The matter at hand is the etymological relationship between English isle and French île.

    I think we might be at cross-purposes, but I would appreciate it if you would point out where I have contradicted myself, Aoyama.
     
  7. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    I have to admit that, when I posted my now-regrettable post, I was hallucinating or something. :eek: French île and earlier isle are related to English isle. Etymonline, the same source I quoted above, brings them back to Latin insula. English island is unrelated to them all.
     
  8. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Interesting! So to sum up, if I've understood the above correctly, Eng "isle" and Fr "île" are, as you might expect, etymologically related, but Eng "island" is not related to either of them. Goes to show how you shouldn't assume anything in language change!:)
     
  9. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    A probable exercise in futility but I still think that isle in English is not directly related to the French isle (and thus insula ).
    There is, of course, a phonetical and lexical influence of the French word, but a fortiori .
     
  10. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    What I remember reading is that neither island nor isle are direct descendants of French île, although of course they are cognates, if you go back far enough into Proto-Indo-European.

    The point is that the "s" in English isle (and island) is spurious. The word never had a pronounced "s" in English (whereas the medieval French spelling isle represents an actual pronounced "s" in Latin and Old French).

    Both isle and island derive from Old Germanic ig.
     
  11. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    We do agree on this one, absolutely.
     
  12. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    By the way, the etymology of aisle is also interesting. The pronounciation of this word is the same as isle (in English).
    Etymology: Middle English ile, alteration of ele, from Anglo-French, literally, wing, from Latin ala (Modern French aile, pronounciation quite different from île) ; akin also to Old English eaxl shoulder, Latin axis axletree ...
     

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