1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Origin of French 'merci'

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by macta123, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. macta123 Senior Member

    India
    India,Hindi
    MODERATOR NOTE: Questions on the etymology of words (rather than their meaning or translation into another modern language) are discussed in our Etymology and History of Languages Forum, to which this thread has been moved.
    ------------

    Hello,

    I wanted to know the orgin of ' Merci ' (Thank you). Does this come from Latin or Frank?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  2. Gentiléen Senior Member

    Gentilly & Vendée
    French/France
    No Latin etymology as far as I know.
    In the Middle Age, it had the same meaning as its English homophone "mercy"
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  3. 1mark1 New Member

    English
    You may find your answer in the forgotten language of Aramaic or neo Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus) also called Assyrian where 'merci' just means 'thank you'
     
  4. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    In Aramaic the word for "thank you" is "tawdi"
     
  5. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    The French Academy's Dictionary says it is from Latin mercedem, accusative of merces, meaning salary or reward and, later, price, favour or mercy given to someone when sparing them.
     
  6. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    It's a slow evolution in meaning over a long period of time. I would just add that the current meaning of thanks probably comes from the "favour" you mention. "Dieu merci" the grace of God, God willing, favour or want of God
     
  7. 1mark1 New Member

    English
    In Modern Assyrian or Neo Aramaic if I say "How are you" = Dakhee vit" when speaking to a male. The response might be: "I'm good thank you = Spaay vin merci"
    Ref: Studies in Neo Aramaic, Professor Wolfhart Heinrichs, Department of Eastern languages at Harvard Universities.
    It should be noted however that there are many dialects. This is only one of those.
     
  8. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    "Merci" is from Latin merces, asHulalessar has explained. The French word has been borrowed into Arabic (and many other languages), and from Arabic into the Neo-Aramaic of Maalula (one of several surviving Neo-Aramaic languages).
     
  9. 1mark1 New Member

    English
    fdb, thank you for clearing that up. I was simply trying to establish what I thought the Linquistic form (as a word) is shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurance........in this case perhaps it could be traced back to Biblical usage in one society.
    fyi - I am an Engineer and operate a steel business but early on I really wanted to major in modern European Languages. Oh well - haha This has been fun and the guys have not beat up on me too much :)
     
  10. 1mark1 New Member

    English
    Ouch! My company on works on heavy industrial things such as power plants. Never bridges! Thanks fdb
     
  11. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    What about “merci” in pt. você (vossa mercee) and sp. usted (vuestra merced)? Is this related to French usage in someway?
     
  12. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    They both derive form the same Latin word mercedem. I do not know about Portuguese, but the Spanish word merced has the same range of meaning as the Latin as mentioned above. See here: http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=merced
     
  13. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    But have you any proof that it comes from Old Aramaic? It is very probable that it comes from French via Turkish.
     
  14. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    As stated already in no. 9.
     
  15. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    For curiosity, also the Spanish personal name Mercedes is related to the word we are discussing now. It comes from a former María de las Mercedes, meaning "Mary of Mercies".
     
  16. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    ....and was borne notably by Mercédès Adrienne Manuela Ramona Jellinek, the eponym of the motor car.
     
  17. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Thanks, I didn't notice that post. By the way, it must then be Turkish that borrowed the word from Arabic.
     
  18. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    :confused: Why must this be?
     
  19. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I do not think that Turkish uses “merci”. I do not know which of the Neo-Aramaic languages are supposed to use it. The inhabitants of three Aramaic-speaking villages in Syria are bilingual in Levantine Arabic, and have borrowed heavily from French, either directly or via Arabic. Those in Tur Abdin are bilingual in Turkish, those in Northern Iraq in Iraqi Arabic and/or Kurdish.
     
  20. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Do you speak Turkish?
    According to dozens of "useful phrases" both on line and printed on paper they use "mersi", (not "merci"). Are they wrong according to you?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  21. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It is not the only or the most common/neutral way of saying "thank you", but it is used. Nişanyan gives an earliest attestation of 1869 and mentions no Arabic intermediary.
     
  22. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Fine, but how is this relevant for Aramaic? As I said, the only Aramaic/Turkish bilingual area is Tur Abdin.
     
  23. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Nothing, why? Is this thread exclusively about Aramaic?
     
  24. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I was responding to this:

     
  25. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I think we have got stuck in the sand. Maybe we all agree on this:

    -merci is from Latin, not from Aramaic

    -the French word was borrowed into Arabic dialects, Turkish, Neo-Aramaic, Persian etc. etc.
     

Share This Page