Words like undulate, abundant, abound: loans or inherited?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by rbrunner, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. rbrunner Senior Member

    German - Switzerland
    I am interested in the history of a group of English words that all go back one way or another to Latin unda "wave": undulate; abundant; to abound.

    The etymologies given on websites like Wiktionary and Etymonline are straight enough and show the ways of these words from Latin unda to elaborated Latin forms like abundāre to Late Latin, Medieval Latin, Old French, Norman French and then Middle to Modern English (not always with all the intermediate steps, however.)

    What I could not decide based on the material that I found: Are these word inherited, i.e. are there direct lines from Latin to English, or was there some borrowing and loaning? And if yes, when did the loaning probably occur? Did the French typically loan Late Latin and Medieval Latin words into their Old French language?

    Are there online sources detailing this, or is this info buried in special books so far?
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Normally, there can be no direct lines of inheritance from Latin to English, if you accept the classification of English as Germanic… So the question is when these Latinate words entered English as borrowings, and whether they were taken directly from Latin or via French. The OED is usually the best source for this sort of information.*
    Sure. Although loanwords that old will have undergone some native sound changes since then, so they may be harder to identify than typical learned vocabulary.

    *In case you don't have easy access: undulate is given as a direct loan from Latin (second half of 17th cent.), while abound, abundance, abundant came through French (14th cent.).
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  3. rbrunner Senior Member

    German - Switzerland
    I see. In this way, for a Latin word to arrive at English, there might have been, depending on the particular case, even more than one borrowing: one from Latin into (Old) French and then a second one from (Norman) French into English. Interesting.
  4. mungu Senior Member

    Yes, apparently Old French abonder is a learned borrowing from Latin and not a natural descendant from Latin. I guess we know that by the absence of the expected lenition of /b/ between vowels. I interpret my etymological dictionary as implying that natural descendants with lenition have been preserved ("une forme populaire s'est transmise") in Norman avonder and Provençal aonder.
  5. rbrunner Senior Member

    German - Switzerland
    Interesting argument. I learn something new everday around here :)

    Ok, then what about Spanish abundar and Italian abbondare? Would the same argument apply, favoring learned? Or are the sound shifts of Spanish and Italian different enough to change the situation?

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