The case of fall

dihydrogen monoxide

Senior Member
Slovene, Serbo-Croat
What is the explanation for the sound changes and semantic shifts in following words and if they are related at all?

German:
der Fall-'case'
fallen-'to fall'
fallen 'to miss, to lack'
gefallen 'to like something'

English:
fall
Am. English fall-'autumn'
 
  • pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    I always assumed "fall" was just a reference to the falling leaves that define the season.

    All the words you mention come from Proto-Germanic *fallaną (according to wiktionary).

    Going back to the PIE root (as proposed wiktionary):
    According to a recent theory, explained as from Pre-Germanic *h₂ph₃elh₁né- or *h₂ph₃olh₁né-, a proposed compound of *h₂epo (“off, away”) + *h₃elh₁- (“to fall”); which would allow connection with Latin aboleō (“to destroy”) and Ancient Greek ἀπόλλῡμι (apóllūmi, “to destroy, kill”).[1][2]. Compare also Lithuanian pùlti (“to fall; fall to; attack”).

    "Case" as it relates to declension, derives from the Latin casus, from cadĕre, which means "to fall".

    I don't know German, but "gefallen" seems to be similar to the Spanish "me cae [bien]".
     
    Last edited:

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    What is the explanation for the sound changes and semantic shifts in following words and if they are related at all?

    German:
    der Fall-'case'
    fallen-'to fall'
    fallen 'to miss, to lack'
    gefallen 'to like something'
    "Fall" is the noun (also "Kasus") and "fallen" the verb, with "-en" being the ending for the infinitive.

    "gefallen" comes from Middle High German "gevallen" and from Old High German "gifallan". Today's meaning (to be attracted) has developed from the falling of the dice and lots. (I have translated the Duden Herkunftswörtrbuch).

    About the second "fallen", I think bearded is right.
     

    dihydrogen monoxide

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    So, if all the cases go back to *fallaną then we talk about semantic shifts? How did *fallaną develop a meanig of der Fall? In case of Fall describing a noun category I was referring to a case in when we talk about investigating a criminal case, I don't know if that word narrowed its meaning or is der Fall equivalent to English case even in the sense of in every case, the case is, criminal case, if that's the case...

    How did Old High German get gi in gifallan? Was there ever a time where it was only fallan with the same meaning?
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    How did *fallaną develop a meanig of der Fall?
    Seems like a straight forward semantic calque from Latin (or French?). "Case" in English either comes from NFr. cas (> casus; criminal case, etc.) or NFr. caisse ("box"; case of oranges, etc.)

    How did Old High German get gi in gifallan? Was there ever a time where it was only fallan with the same meaning?
    From Wiktionary again:
    From Middle High German gevallen, from Old High German gifallan[1]. Equivalent to ge- +‎ fallen

    Once again, I don't know German, but I see that fallen is conjugated with the verb for "sein", but gefallen is with "haben", so to me it seems like maybe a shift in meaning from action-focused to result-focused... in any case fallen is unaccusative but gefallen is not.

    In English one could say "I have fallen for them" meaning I really like them romantically.
     
    Last edited:

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Out of interest the original English English word for 'Autumn' is actually 'Fall' (from the falling of the leaves from the trees). This crossed the Atlantic to North America where they use it today. So, although we tend to thibk of 'The Fall' as an American expression for this time of year, it did actually originate on the other side of 'the Pond'.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Out of interest the original English English word for 'Autumn' is actually 'Fall' (from the falling of the leaves from the trees). This crossed the Atlantic to North America where they use it today. So, although we tend to thibk of 'The Fall' as an American expression for this time of year, it did actually originate on the other side of 'the Pond'.
    I didn't actually know that you all don't call it Fall over there. To my ears, Autumn is to Fall what loquacious is to talkative (i.e. a word never used in informal conversation)(and never mind the adjective "autumnal" 🙃)
     
    Last edited:

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    I didn't actually know that you all don't call it Fall over there. To my ears, Autumn is to Fall what talkative is to loquacious (i.e. a word never used in informal conversation)(and never mind the adjective "autumnal" 🙃)
    In British English text-books for foreigners, the word fall is not even mentioned. The four seasons of the year are: spring, summer, autumn and winter. :)
     
    Last edited:

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In British English text-books for foreigners, the word fall is not even mentioned. The four seasons of the year are: spring, summer, autumn and winter. :)

    Although Fall would be understood in Britain, and it is (or at least was until fairly recently) still used in some parts of England for autumn. Also heard in parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire (probably by a quickly diminishing number of people now) is the word backend for that particular season.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    For me, Fall and Autumn are totally interchangeable. I like the parallelism of Spring-Fall and the relationship to the change in nature occurring in the two seasons. Springing and falling create a visual image.
    I hadn't made the connection between harvest and Herbst before now. :)

    Trying to understand the original post... the sound change is the Germanic a (ah) in fallen to a more o-like sound in Fall? If so, I think it's the pronunciation of the guttural -ll at the end of the word that accounts for the change. We usually have it in any word ending in -ll : call, ball, stall, mall, tall.
     
    Last edited:

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    In German, gemminated consonants indicate that the preceding vowel is short; so fallen and Fall should have the same vowel.

    Also, German doesn't have a velarized L like we do in English (although we share a postconsonantal vocalized L at the end of words).
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    What about “Fall” as in “instance” (“Das ist ein interessanter Fall von Heuchelei”)?
    Wouldn't you also say case here in English. And the literal meaning of case is also fall, from the Latin verb cadere = to fall. But with the same derived meaning: to fall under a category and (which is the relevant meaning here) to happen. I find this use intuitively straight forward as well.

    EDIT: Crossed with @bearded
     
    Top