They both say the same thing. Both are right.
Student or Learner
WARNING: This question is about an antiquated expression.
From Anectdotes of the English Language (1814), page 277:
From the 1913 Webster's dictionary:Another matutinal expression in ancient use was—"Give you (i. e. God) good Day," implying a hope that the day might end as well as it had begun: but the most ancient and enlarged wish was Good Den; that is, Good Days; being a contraction of the Saxon Plural Day-en, a phrase which occurs several times in Shakspeare. This will account for what one sometimes ignorantly smiles at among the children in country places, where, in passing a stranger in a morning, they seem to accost him with, "Good E'en! Good E'en!" which is generally mistaken for an Evening wish, though it is in fact Good Den, a little softened in the pronunciation.
Who is right?[Corrupt. of good e'en, for good evening.]
A form of salutation. [Obs.] Shak.
They both say the same thing. Both are right.
The first quotation says,
good day-en => good den (contraction) => good e'en (false etymology and phonetic changes).
The second says,
good e'en => good den (phonetic changes).
Good`-den"\, interj. [Corrupt. of good e'en, for good evening.] A form of salutation. [Obs.] --Shak. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, InYou are dealing with homophonous forms.
- The 1814 source tells us that good day-en (pronounced good ay-en ([e]'en>) by process of disassimilation: d#d) was homophonous with good e'en (a contraction of even), meaning good evening.
- The 1913 source tells us that good '-den (note the hyphen: (dig-you-)good-den) is a form of good evening; notably, -d#e'en > -d#den (by process of progressive assimilation across a word boundary; this is a common sound change, phonetically, whereby weak onsets are strengthened).
- good den derives from good dayen (1814)
- good-den derives from good e'en, a contraction of good evening (1913)
I agree about the second source. That's how I interpret it too.
In other words, people used "good e'en" as an evening greeting but it wasn't etymologically correct. It happened because a false etymology of "good den" was assumed, the false etymology being exactly what Webster's dictionary gives. People thought "good den" was a form of "good e'en" (which didn't exist before; if the author had thought it had existed, he wouldn't have called using "good e'en" as an evening greeting a mistake) and they used started using "good e'en".
I'm not sure if I understand you. You first said both sources said the same thing. Then you said that "good den" and "good-den" were different. I understand that you mean that the first source deals with "good den" and the second with "good-den". It seems inconsistent to me and I can't interpret it.
Anyway, I also don't understand where your statement that there were two homophonous "good-dens" (and the difference between them was in the use of the hyphen) comes from. It must come from some other sources as I can't see this information in mine. The second certainly doesn't say it; it just says "good-den" was an evening greeting. The first in turn does not mention "good den" being really used as an evening greeting. I do think it strongly implies such usage but with an etymology different from Webster's.
Well, I'm very confused. I hope I made myself clear at least.
PS: It would be great if you or anybody else had some other sources on that that they could share.
Last edited by birdeen's call; 06-Dec-2010 at 10:53.
I googled this:
(A dialogue in Devonshire dialect)GOOD-DEN, adv. a contraction of Good-dayen, the Saxon
plural of day. According to Nares it was formerly
applicable to any time after noon ; but in Devonshire
it is used for good evening only.
It doesn't seem to say there are two distict "good-dens" with two distinct etymologies.
I found the book the above refers to, Nares' Glossary. It says,
The previous quotation refers to Nares as if they were talking about the same expression. But they give different etymologies to it.Den. A word of no signification, occurring in the phrase good den, which is a mere corruption of good e'en, for good evening. This salutation was used by our ancestors as soon as noon was past, after which time, good morrow, or good day, was esteemed improper. This fully appears from this passage in Romeo and Juliet:
Nurse. God ye good morrow, gentlemen.
Merc. God ye good den, fair gentlewoman.
Upon being thus corrected, the Nurse asks, Whether it is good den? that is, whether the time is come for using that expression rather than the other? to which Mercutio replies, that it is; for that the dial now points the hour of noon. ii. 4. "God ye good den" is a contraction of " God give you a good evening."
God-dig you den, is a further corruption of the same, and is put into the mouth of Costard, in Love's L. L. iv. 1. it arose perhaps only from a hasty pronunciation of God you good den. We now wish good morning till dinner time, though the dinner is put off to supper time.
The OED goes for good even, adding, "used at any time after noon". Given the way in which etymology became rather more scientific during the 19th century, I would be more inclined to accept Webster (1913) as accurate and the 1814 source as false etymology.
Your argument of time is strong. I wouldn't have any doubt about this if it weren't for one reason: the only source that deals with both assumed origins is the 1814 one. The rest just assume one. Maybe they didn't take the other into account? Was "good day-en" actually an origin of anything or was it just completely made up?
The good day etymology appears to me to be mistaken, made up, though it may actually have been used later by some people in that sense, perhaps because it was apparently used at any time after midday. The OED gives one example which could be confusing: 'I give you godden., good day, good luck; or 'God speed you'.
As you say, BC, "the only source that deals with both assumed origins is the 1814 one. The rest just assume one." You have also shown that the person citing Nares appears to have changed what Nares actually wrote. Unless somebody comes up with other sources, I will disregard the 1814.