Separate / distinguish / differ

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
Gavril's question reminded me of these three verbs. is there any resemblance in your language?

In Dutch there is:
- to separate = scheiden
- to distinguish = onderscheiden (sub-separate)
- to differ = verschillen (but different might be translated as verscheidene, though the meaning is more 'several' whereas strictly speaking it contains 'scheiden' and a perfective-pejorative prefix, maybe something like 'totally different')...
 
  • apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Hi TK,

    In Greek:


    To separate: «Διαχωρίζω» [ði.axo'rizo] < Classical v. «διαχωρίζω» dĭăkʰōrízō --> to separate < compound; prefix, preposition and adv. «διὰ» dià --> in two, apart, through (PIE *dis-, apart) + Classical v. «χωρίζω» kʰōrízō --> to part, depart (with uncertain etymology, from possible PIE root *ǵʰeh₁-, to leave behind).


    To distinguish: «Διακρίνω» [ði.a'krino] < Classical v. «διακρίνω» dĭăkrínō --> to separate, distinguish < compound; prefix, preposition and adv. «διὰ» dià --> in two, apart, through (PIE *dis-, apart) + Classical v. «κρίνω» krínō --> to separate, choose, select, decide, judge, condemn, accuse, apply (PIE *kre(h₁)-i-, to separate, distinguish cf Lat. cerndre, to select, discern, sieve).


    To differ: «Διαφέρω» [ði.a'fero] < Classical v. «διαφέρω» dĭăpʰérō --> to differ < compound; prefix, preposition and adv. «διὰ» dià --> in two, apart, through (PIE *dis-, apart) + Classical v. «φέρω» pʰérō --> to bear, endure, carry off, bring away, provide, reach, move along (PIE *bʰer-, to bear, carry cf Skt. भरति (bharati), to bear, carry; Lat. ferre, to bear, carry).
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    In Dutch there is:
    - to separate = scheiden
    - to distinguish = onderscheiden (sub-separate)
    - to differ = verschillen (but different might be translated as verscheidene, though the meaning is more 'several' whereas strictly speaking it contains 'scheiden' and a perfective-pejorative prefix, maybe something like 'totally different')...
    Other English terms:

    to separate: to sunder (now very archaic sounding)
    to distinguish (between two or more things): to tell apart
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Very interesting addition: this 'sunder' (and the 'apart' concept) is recognizable in 'bijzonder' (special, part-icular, peculiar), and in 'uitzondering' (ex-ception), 'afzondering' (isolation), etc. in Dutch, and is even more common in German: 'Sondermassnahmen', 'Sonderfall', ... (special measures, special case), 'besonder' (particular), etc.

    Something I happen to find out today, just this morning: 'skill' has to do with separating as well, and thus is related with 'verschillen' in Dutch... I am quite surprised!
     
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    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Hebrew:
    separate - להפריד lehafrid, root f-r-d. להבדיל lehavdil root b/v-d-l
    distinguish - להבחין lehavkhin, root b/v-kh-n (it inherently is as to tell apart). להבדיל lehavdil root b/v-d-l to distinguish. לאפין le'afyen root '-f-y-n (i think) to categorize, ליחד leyakhed (although it would be very rare) root y-kh-d to unique-ify, לסוג lesaveg root s-v-g to identify-in-faction (category)
    differ - להבדיל lehavdil root b/v-d-l
     

    Saluton

    Banned
    Russian
    Russian:
    to separate - отделять (otde'lyat), разделять (razde'lyat), from делить (de'lit) - 'to divide'
    to distinguish - отличать (otli'chat), различать (razli'chat), from лик (lik), лицо (li'tso) - 'face', i.e. 'to tell faces apart', so to say
    to differ - отличаться (otli'chatsa), различаться (razli'chatsa), the same as above + a reflexive suffix
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Is there a common root in those words, Saluton? I can see the raz-, which is something like 'dis-' or 'se-', I suppose, but is there a link between the 'li''s in (a) and (b)?

    Just by the way: after the 'skill' find in #4 I did some more research, and I am astonished about the number of words in English and Germanic referring to separating/ cutting: shear, shed, sunder, sleave, shift, try (!) and then lots of Latin derivations based on dis- and on se-, cern/cret, plus the Greek 'schizo'. It seems to be a very important cultural concept, just like covering... Strangely enough sorting has to do with lining up and category has nothing to do with groups as such, so I read:

    from kategorein "to speak against; to accuse, assert, predicate," from kata "down to" (or perhaps "against;" see cata-) + agoreuein "to harangue, to declaim (in the assembly)," from agora "public assembly" (see agora). Original sense of "accuse" weakened to "assert, name" by the time Aristotle applied kategoria to his 10 classes of things that can be named.
     
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    Saluton

    Banned
    Russian
    Ot- and raz- are prefixes that imply 'from' ('to divide/tell smth. from smth.') and 'apart' ('to divide/tell smth. and smth. apart'), respectively. Делить and лицо have different roots, de- is not a prefix in Russian.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    Swedish:
    Skilja - separate
    Avskilja - separate, divide
    Urskilja - distinguish
    Skilja sig åt - differ
    Skilja sig från - differ from
    Frånskilja - separate from something, for example a work; or to divorce

    Skilja sig - to divorce; skilsmässa - a divorce
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The skil- root is distinctly present in all three then, one I recognize from Dutch verschillen, 'differ', and the English skill, which I had never realised... I had not been aware of that root, but most interesting!
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Czech:

    to separate: rozděliti, odděliti (prefix roz-/od- = dis-/de-; root děl- = part, cf. German der Teil, zerteilen);

    to distinguish: rozlišiti, odlišiti < rozličný (= various, sundry, i.e. of various faces) < líce (= cheek) > obličej (= face);

    to differ: lišiti se, odlišovati se (reflexive verbs); různiti se < různý (= different) < prefix roz- (dis-);
     

    mataripis

    Senior Member
    Tagalog: 1.) To separate- humiwalay, (hiwalay) or Ibukod/bumukod 2.) To distinguish- kilalanin/kumilala, sumuri/masuri 3.) To differ- makilalang naiiba or alamin ang naiiba or ibahin, but differentiate is " anong naiiba".
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    German:
    - to separate: trennen, abtrennen, teilen, abteilen, zerteilen, unterteilen, lösen, sich lösen, sich ablösen
    - to distinguish: unterscheiden, differenzieren, auseinanderhalten
    - to differ: sich unterscheiden, voneinander abweichen

    trennen ('to separate')
    abtrennen < ab ('off') + trennen
    lösen
    ('to loosen, to detach, to break off, to peel, ...')
    sich lösen < sich (reflexive pronoun) + lösen
    sich ablösen < sich + ab-
    ('off') + lösen
    teilen < Teil
    ('part') + -en (verbal infinitive suffix)
    abteilen < ab- ('off') + teilen
    zerteilen < zer-
    (~ 'into pieces', perhaps similar to roz- in Czech) + teilen
    unterteilen < unter-
    (~'sub-' as in 'subdivision') + teilen
    unterscheiden < unter-
    (as above) + scheiden (~ 'to separate')
    sich unterscheiden < sich (reflexive pronoun, making the verb intransitive) + unterscheiden
    auseinanderhalten < auseinander
    ('apart') < aus- ('out of') + einander ('each other') + halten ('to hold')
    voneinander abweichen < von- ('of') + einander ('each other') + ab- ('off') + weichen (~'to yield, to give way')
    to separate: rozděliti, odděliti (prefix roz-/od- = dis-/de-; root děl- = part, cf. German der Teil, zerteilen)

    (edit: added lösen, sich lösen, sich ablösen)
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    @holger: perfect information. I am just a little amazed that you do not even mention scheiden as such. --- As for me teilen fits less into this context, because I consider Teil as something that can be perceived without even actively "parting" something, and because our delen is more often sharing than parting (for which we need a prefix, I think: opdelen, verdelen, etc.) . But of course, this is based on my knowledge of Dutch and to some extent German, and it might be personal... I suddenly realized we have an etymologically related equivalent of trennen as tornen, referring to lossening seams... (Thanks for the DWDS link by the way; I once bumped into it, but now I can use it again...)

    @Messquito: I can see one ideogramme return, I suppose one referring to knife or cutting (with the power symbol below and another above)...
     
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    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish

    separate = erottaa, erotella
    distinguish = erottaa
    differ = erota, poiketa (poiketa also means to deviate, diverge)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    May I ask: is erottaa kind-of a causative form of erota? Something like 'to make differ' (to make a difference)? And is there some way of explaining the suffix -ella (as opposed to -taa-)?
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Syria
    Arabic :

    to separate : "faSala فصل" sometimes "in-faSala" (its reflexive form) root f-S-l.

    to distinguish : "mayyaza ميّز" to confer distinction on something or someone , root m-y-z.

    to differ : "ikhtalafa اختلف" to disagree ,root kh-l-f.
     
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    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    May I ask: is erottaa kind-of a causative form of erota? Something like 'to make differ' (to make a difference)? And is there some way of explaining the suffix -ella (as opposed to -taa-)?
    Yes erottaa is a causative of erota, -(e)lla is a frequentative suffix:

    erota = 1 to separate (intrans.) 2 to resign, to quit (a job) 3 to divorce 4 to differ, be different
    causative of erota: erottaa = 1 to separate (trans.) 2 to fire (from a job) 3 to distinguish
    frequentative of erottaa: erotella = to separate
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    ^Great information!
    Arabic :
    to separate : "faSala فصل" sometimes "in-faSala" (its reflexive form) root f-S-l.
    to distinguish : "mayyaza ميّز" to confer distinction on something or someone , root m-y-z.
    to differ : "ikhtalafa اختلف" to disagree ,root kh-l-f.
    So no etymological links at all then... Funny: Google T mentions "season" for /fasala/...
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Syria
    So no etymological links at all then... Funny: Google T mentions "season" for /fasala/...
    It's faSl (a season ) ,they both are written the same but have different pronunciation .
    A season is a separation in Arabic ;)
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    @ThomasK I didn't think of 'un-prefixed' scheiden as it is rarely used as such in modern day German - but of course its original meaning must have been something like 'to separate' and it still appears in some expressions like aus dem Dienst scheiden ('to retire from work', lit. ~ 'to separate out of service'), aus dem Leben scheiden (a very formal expression for 'to die', lit. ~ 'to separate out of life') and in the expression sich scheiden lassen ('to get divorced', lit. ~ 'to let oneselves be separated'). Looking up the Dutch verb scheiden in a Dutch-German dictionary I found that it is often translated as trennen (die begrippen zijn niet scherp van elkaar te scheiden - die Begriffe lassen sich nicht klar voneinander trennen), sometimes teilen (and sometimes sich scheiden even though its use is quite restricted nowadays). Another possible translation is sich (ab)lösen: de bast scheidde zich van de boom - die Borke löste sich vom Baum ab ~ 'the bark came (peeled?) off the tree'. - So (sich) (ab)lösen might join the list as well...

    As for teilen, in German it can mean either 'to share' or 'to separate' - or both (sharing food can involve separating the available food into portions...) but it seems to be used more frequently than Dutch delen (at least according to this dictionary entry), as in the example da teilen sich die Ansichten - op dat punt lopen de meningen uiteen (~ 'that's where the opinions differ').
     
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    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil, English - US
    Tamil:
    separate - thani, taniyaaga
    separate (v) - piri, piritthidu, thani thani yaakku
    differ (v) - veerupadu, veerupadutthu (a sound as in cut)
    difference - veerupaadu (notice the aa sound, as in father).
    distinguish - pakutthaRithal, vakaippaduthal? (from Cologne online Tamil lexicon; I actually didn't know this exact meaning)
     
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    Messquito

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    Messquito: I can see one ideogramme return, I suppose one referring to knife or cutting (with the power symbol below and another above)...
    The radical 八 means separate/cut it is an image of two separate lines: http://www.vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3606
    The radical 刀 means knife, the upper left part is the handle and the main part resembles the blade: http://www.vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3618
    八 was originally the ancient version of 分, before someone put a 刀 to reinforce its meaning and meanwhile, allow more variations.
    分 was originally written(drew) with the 刀(knife) in between two lines, which afterwards evolved upward into the 八 above: http://www.vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3632
     

    ahmedcowon

    Senior Member
    So no etymological links at all then... Funny: Google T mentions "season" for /fasala/...
    Arabic words contain only constants and long vowels, short vowels are omitted and that's why the word فصل /fSl/ can be pronounced as:
    faSala (he separated)
    fuSila (it was separated)
    faSl (season/class)
    faSSala (he explained in details)
    fuSSila (it was explained in details)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    @ThomasK I didn't think of 'un-prefixed' scheiden as it is rarely used as such in modern day German. (...)
    Looking up the Dutch verb scheiden in a Dutch-German dictionary I found that it is often translated as trennen, sometimes teilen (and sometimes sich scheiden even though its use is quite restricted nowadays). Another possible translation is sich (ab)lösen...

    As for teilen, in German it can mean either 'to share' or 'to separate' - or both (sharing food can involve separating the available food into portions...) but it seems to be used more frequently than Dutch delen (at least according to this dictionary entry), as in the example da teilen sich die Ansichten - op dat punt lopen de meningen uiteen (~ 'that's where the opinions differ').
    Interesting information. I thought scheiden was more common. And indeed, I think we use delen in another way: the association with dividing (verdelen) is there, but dividing and separating can never be interchanged, I think.
    Lösen would be losmaken in Dutch, to loosen, or loskomen (intrans.)...

    Oh, oh, that might be part of the problem: my question was in some way biased...
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Arabic words contain only constants and long vowels, short vowels are omitted and that's why the word فصل /fSl/ can be pronounced as:
    faSala (he separated) (...)
    faSSala (he explained in details)
    fuSSila (it was explained in details)
    Extremely interesting (for me): explaining as a metaphorical use of separating or distinguishing (the latter being, in my view, a fig. use/ meaning of separating...).
    Just BTW: I have noticed that explaining is generally a matter of light (clarify, enlighten, ...) or of getting out of chaos (explain, [sich] auseinandersetzen, ...), as metaphors... [I thought I had started a thread on that when I was younger ;-), but I cannot find it...]
     

    810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    In Japanese

    To separate: 分離するbunri-s-uru, 切り離すkir-i-hanas-u
    (bun=to divide, ri=to separate, -s-uru=to do[make a compound], kir-i=to cut inf. kir-u; hanas-u=to separate, to let go of)
    To distinguish: 区別するkubtsu-s-uru
    (ku=district, betsu=distinction)
    To differ: 異なるkotonar-u, 違うchiga-u
     

    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil, English - US
    Finnish

    separate = erottaa, erotella
    distinguish = erottaa
    differ = erota, poiketa (poiketa also means to deviate, diverge)

    Interesting.

    In Tamil,

    அறு (aRu) (v) means to cut.
    In spoken language, அத்து விடு - divorce

    அறுத்தல் - Act of cutting.
    பகு - divide, separate (v)
    பகுத்தல் - act of dividing
    பாகுபாடு - division, sub-division, class
    also, பகுப்பு

    vEru - that which is different, that which is separate
    வேறுபாடு - difference, disagreement

    Reference: Cologne Tamil lexicon
     
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