means / middle

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    While browsing in a Finnish dictionary I noticed that väli- (between, maybe middle) was part of the word for 'tool, instrument'. That seemed strange to me but then I realized there are lots of parallels in languages I know:

    midden (middle) vs. middel (means)

    milieu, moyenne (average) vs. moyen (means)

    Mitte (centre) vs. Mittel

    mean (average) vs. means

    Do you see that in your language as well?

    And by the way: any explanation? Is an instrument/ tool (the means) an extension of our body/ ourselves and somehow posited between us and things outside us?
  2. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    It is common in Slavic languages.


    střed (noun) = middle;
    prostředek = instrument, vehicle, agent (as in cleaning agent);
    prostředník = conciliator, mediator, middleman;


    середина (seredina) = middle;
    сред (sred) = milieu, environs;
    среди (sredi) = amid, midst;
    средство (sredstvo) = instrument, agent (like prostředek in Czech);
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Really? How do you interpret 'instrument' here? As a tool, I suppose...
  4. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    I am afraid that English is not too convenient to explain the Czech word prostředek (and Russian средство).

    I think prostředek is an exact equivalent to the German das Mittel.

    Some examples:

    prostředek hromadné dopravy = Massenverkehrsmittel;
    prostředek mírnící bolest = schmerzstillendes Mittel; Schmerzmittel;
    výrobní prostředek = Fertigungsmittel;
    prostředek proti hmyzu = Insektenbekämpfungsmittel;
    donucovací prostředek = Zwangsmittel,
    prostředek řízení = Führungsmittel;
    devisový prostředek = Devisenmittel;
    finanční prostředek = Geldmittel;
    dopravní prostředek = Beförderungsmittel; Verkehrsmittel; Transportmittel;
    hasicí prostředek = Löschmittel; Feuerlöschmittel;
    flotační prostředek = Flotationsmittel; Schwimmmittel; (three m's :rolleyes:)
    hnací prostředek = Treibmittel;
    jazykový prostředek = Sprachmittel;
    kárný prostředek = Zuchtmittel;
  5. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    Middle-->Μέση ('mesi, feminine noun); classical noun «μέση» ('mĕsē) with the same meaning.
    Mean/means: Μέσο/μέσα ('meso, neuter noun, nominative singular/'mesa, neuter noun, nominative plural). «Μέσο» is the tool, instrument in the sense of a medium. With «μέσα» we usually describe the public means of transport or the mass media. Although in modern Greek, the dative case has not survived, we use the set expression «μέσω» ('meso with omega) which derives from the classical Dativus instrumenti «μέσῳ» ('mĕsō) to denote an instrument or means of a certain action, e.g. "I got her address μέσω a friend"-->I got her address with the use/by means of a friend
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  6. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    So in Greek too. Thanks! - And thanks, Bibax, for the extra examples!
  7. Rallino Moderatoúrkos


    Middle: orta
    Average: ortalama (lit. middling)

    means: araç

    araç also means vehicle.
  8. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    I'll also tell the Finnish word, in addition to your initialization. :)

    väli = space (betw. two things), root for anything "in-between"
    väline = instrument, tool
  9. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    A couple of small corrections for Russian:
  10. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Milieu is actually mi- + lieu, so only the first part (< medius) shares a root with moyen (< medianus).

    An instrument intervenes or intercedes between the agent and the desired result. It serves as an intermediary or mediator.
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I suspect that this connection is the rule in the Romance languages, where the words for "means" and for "middle" derive from medium (plural media). It's not difficult to see how one concept leads to the other. Just think of the saying "the ends do not justify the means". This immediately evokes an image where the "means" lie in the middle of the sequence start-means-ends.
  12. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    The problem is that Czech prostředek, Russian средство and German Mittel are very often translated into English as agent (< Lat. agens < agere = to do).

    For example:

    отбеливающее средство (Ru)
    bělicí prostředek (Cz)
    bleichendes Mittel, Bleichmittel (Ger)
    bleaching agent (En);

    The bleaching agent is not a secret agent who bleaches, of course.
  13. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    I agree with you in this case
  14. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, everyone !

    As for the explanation: we seem to agree with what I suggested in #1, i.e., something 'between' user and target/ goal (maybe I formulated it somewhat clumsily).

    As I can see it: there is no parallel in Turkish, or is there, Rallino ?
  15. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    I can't see any. ^^
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I just needed confirmation to be sure, sorry! Maybe ther will still be older or less common words referring to tools, instruments, etc., as I had never thought of that link myself before either (in my own language).
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  17. Orlin Banned

    I think that in other Slavic languages such relation exists too - e. g.:
    среда/sreda = middle/milieu;
    средство/sredstvo = means;
    посредник/posrednik = intermediary, agent.

    sredina = middle/milieu;
    sredstvo = means;
    posrednik = intermediary, agent.
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Quite interesting, thanks. Can we now invite the rest of the world to join here?
  19. Orlin Banned

    Of course!:) I just wanted to confirm that Slavic languages are quite uniform in this aspect as it was suggested in previous posts. You've most probably seen many examples in which our group totally disagrees but it isn't so here.
  20. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    The most common word (I think?) for "means" in Finnish is keino(t), which isn't connected to the meaning "middle" as far as I know. According to one source, the earlier meaning of keino was "a type of snare used in hunting".
  21. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Really? But how about my vali-word ? Not... 'valid' ? ;-) It was so fascinating to find the resemblance between all those words...
  22. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    väline (< väli) means "implement / tool" and in some contexts "medium" -- for example, tiedotusvälineet = "(news) media". väline can also mean "means", but (in my experience, at least) keino is the more common word for this meaning.

    For example, millä keinoilla "by what means?", omin keinoin "by one's own means", meillä ei ole keinoa "we don't have the means", etc.
  23. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I see, thanks. I was thinking of tools but did not realize that "means" is way broader.

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