Schlagwort-Archive: metus

Synonyms in Latin and the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae

Guest Blog by Johann Ramminger

„Language possesses no pure synonyms. […] If, for extralinguistic reasons such as cultural borrowing or foreign conquest, two exact synonyms exist for a time in the spoken chain, either one of them will become less and less selected and eventually discarded, or a difference of meaning, connotation, nuance or register will arise to distinguish them“ (Samuels 1972, 65, invoking Bréal’s „Essai de semantique“ of 1897). The phenomenon of native-language synonym displacement has been documented amply in modern European languages. A case in point is traducere/to translate in the Romance vernaculars. In Medieval Latin translatare had been used, and had entered Romance languages; via French it was received into English, where it still survives. Traducere in this meaning was a coinage in Early Modern Latin of the early 15th century. It entered Romance languages in the late 15th century and replaced pre-existing words derived from translatare within a hundred years (cp. ital. tradurre, fr. traduir). Little attention has been paid to the fact that the situation in Latin itself is much less clear cut. Certainly no synonym displacement can be seen in Latin concerning the synonyms for to translate, neither in the Latin of Antiquity (i.e. in the Latin of native speakers) nor later (Ramminger 2015-16). Hence, some basic data about Latin synonyms may be useful. Weiterlesen