[b-hebrew] Befuddled by NGD

stoneyb stoneyb at touchwood.net
Wed Jul 25 12:47:49 EDT 2007

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Befuddled by NGD
> why use this word to express "telling" instead of )MR
Why do we call a performance in front of an academic or sales conference
a "presentation" instead of a "speech"? Because. Style, context,
dialect, history, personal whim - many many linguistic choices are
determined by so many considerations that they are for all practical
purposes indeterminate, random, or as Peter says, "arbitrary."

> And then how do you go from "in front" to "opposite".
Both of these terms illustrate Peter's point rather nicely. If something
is "opposite" you it is, etymologically, "ob-positus" or "set towards"
you. If it's "in front" of you it is, etymologically, at your "frons" or
"fore(-)head" - that is, face to face with you, or in the contemporary
idiom, "in your face". The underlying metaphors have long since vanished
from English, however, and are only called to your notice if you
encounter the words in contexts where the metaphor lingers: "A front
like Mars', to threaten and command," for instance. What's "arbitrary"
here is not the semantic link , but which terms and senses survive in
which contexts. 

Stoney Breyer
Writer/Touchwood, Inc.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list