Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Aishana, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Aishana Senior Member

    US English
    My friend and I are discussing when and how the meaning of "prejudice" in French came to refer more to the idea of "harm" than to the idea of "prejudging". Additionally, we are discussing whether a language changes more in its parent culture (i.e. French in France) or in its adopted culture (i.e. French in Canada/Congo/Algeria etc.)

    Any thoughts?
  2. Mauricet Senior Member

    near Grenoble
    French - France
    Fil transferé au forum Etymology and History of Languages.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2012
  3. Aishana Senior Member

    US English
    Merci. Je ne savais même pas que cela existait.
  4. Quintis

    Quintis Senior Member

    Well, etymologically prejudice comes from Old French that comes from Latin praejudicium with prae= in advance and judicium=judgement according to my dictionary.
    It has probably always implied doing harm to somebody, hence the extrapolation that we know in French.
    When and how a meaning of a word shifts is usually a mystery in linguistics I think.

    Concerning whether a language changes more in its parent culture or not. I think the changes depends of the level of isolation and the number of people in this isolated population.
    Take Quebec, it has been severely isolated from France's influence after the Seven year's war for several decades.
    Well, I have heard that the differences in speech between a Frenchmen and a Quebecois are not due to the fact that Canadian French has changed much during its isolation , to the contrary it has remained very similar to the French that was spoken before while French from France has changed much.

    While considering the US and Britain we have one language that has split into two main different regional speeches and have continued to evolve in parallel.

    I think the reason for this difference is the population ratio. While Quebec's population remained largely inferior to that of France, the US population never ceased growing to eventually outweighs that of Britain. A language cannot change fast if there's not enough people to make it change.

    Another example, we French-speaking Belgians speak a French very similar to that of Northern France.
    We have chosen to make French compulsory in the 1920s so as to replace a heap of different Latin dialects collectively known as Walloon.
    We have very few differences with the French spoken in Paris (no more than the Marseillais have, an accent that's all).
    Although we have brought some words into the French language, our influence has remained minimal.
    Why is that? Our population is small and we are not at all isolated from France culturally (we have French tv channels ans all). The two conditions are fulfilled.

    Except for Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and the French overseas territories, I think no other country has a significant population speaking French as an everyday language. It is rather used as a lingua franca. In this case it is quite hard to make it evolve.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  5. Barsac Senior Member

    region of Bordeaux
    french - français
    The french present meaning of "préjudice" was mentioned in french texts at the beginning of the 13th century (Jean de Meung, according to Albert Dauzat).
    It is very possible that this word was introduced in England with its latin meaning by people who had a good knowledge of latin.
    The other meaning was already known as "harm", and there was no reason to abandon this word.
  6. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    The meaning of harm, damage also appears in Spanish (perjuicio) and Italian (pregiudizio), so this meaning must have come into being very early.
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Yes, it existed already in early post-classical Latin (1st-2nd centuries). Lewis & Short give citations from Seneca and Aulus Gellius. As for Spanish, two distinct forms exist to distinguish the two meanings (prejuicio vs. perjuicio). Bravo, Spanish! :D
  8. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Yes, definitely. Probably a direct borrowing later from praejudicium.
    Or maybe not? Would a cultism have had to end up being "prejudicio"?

    Funny the redundancy of the expression "daños y perjuicios" (damages and damages)
    Dañar = Perjudicar

    French also keeps the distinction with préjugé (>préjuger)
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  9. CapnPrep Senior Member

    No need for the "*": prejudicio.
  10. Aishana Senior Member

    US English
    Thank you all for such thoughtful input.
  11. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This question has been discussed here: .
    Please don't respond to it in this thread any more but if you want to say anything to this topic please add it to the other thread.

    Thank you for your cooperation.
    Berndf (moderator)

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