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  1. VIP Member
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    #21

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    Except those who write etymology dictionaries
    They are useful if you want to know where the word came from. They are normally useless for telling us how the word is used today.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #22

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    They are useful if you want to know where the word came from. They are normally useless for telling us how the word is used today.
    Yes, I know. But, as I said in post #6 (or, at least, tried to say), I'm interested not only in the modern usage of the words we are talking about. I'd be happy to know whether there were such associations (and hence words) in the past, too. It's not so dead important to me to know this. I'm just reading a story that was written by people who lived long before the compass was invented. They named the directions the way that helped them to orient themselves.

    The reason why I got curious about the possible connection between the notions north and midnight is because the Kalevala I'm reading about is a real place in the north very close to the arctic circle. It amazed me that the Russian translator chose the Russian word "полночь" (midnight) to indicate the north. "Why did he do it?", I thought. Maybe because in the Karelian language there is such a word? And why we, Russians, have this word in our language? Maybe because many of our ancestors lived somewhere close to the Arctic? Or maybe because it's just some peculiar logic that led them to the naming the north this way (if the south is "полдень" (noon), then the north is "полночь" (midnight))? Is or was there anything similar in other European languages? And so on and on...

    As to the connection between south and midday, I'm sure your ancestors knew it. (They just couldn't be unaware of this way of orientation in the time when there were no compasses.) Maybe there were even words that illustrate this connection. But since there is nothing left even in your folklore, then I'll, personally, be happy with what's written in an etymology dictionary.
    Last edited by GeneD; 22-Apr-2020 at 18:48. Reason: Mistakes.
    If it's not too much trouble to you, could you please correct any errors I might have made in this post?

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #23

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    Yes, I know. But, as I said in post #6 (or, at least, tried to say), I'm interested not only in the modern usage of the words we are talking about. I'd be happy to know whether there were such associations (and hence words) in the past, too. . . .

    As to the connection between south and midday, I'm sure your ancestors knew it. . . .
    Maybe my Russian ancestors knew it it. They all spoke Yiddish. Some of them might have spoken Russian, too.

    But English is not Russian. My English ancestors did not know it. South and midday have never been synonyms in English. There are no associations.

    But you think there must be. Why? Why should every language have the same synonyms? Yes, it's a nice association. But that doesn't mean every language has to make the same connections.

    You can't force something to be true by imagining that it's true. If you actually find evidence that they're synonyms, tell us. If you can't, then assume that they're not.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #24

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    I'll give the full quote of mine if you don't mind.
    As to the connection between south and midday, I'm sure your ancestors knew it. (They just couldn't be unaware of this way of orientation in the time when there were no compasses.) Maybe there were even words that illustrate this connection.
    You didn't read carefully again. In the brackets, I've explained why I think they knew the connection. Connection doesn't necessarily imply words. Right after the brackets you can see the word 'maybe'. Did I say there were such words? No. So why have you written all this?

    In the previous post, you pretended that you didn't notice that question and wrote a long post nearly accusing me of making you repeat yourself. Now you are trying to ascribe to me something I didn't say.

    Let's see your other statements in this post.
    My English ancestors did not know it.
    How do you know what your English ancestors knew several centuries ago? Or you didn't read carefully again and think I was talking about your grandfathers?

    South
    and midday have never been synonyms in English.
    I didn't state they were, as I already said.
    And it's surprising to hear such confident statements as this one of yours when even the authors of etymology dictionaries insert without fail the word "perhaps" in their statements. They know well that they know very little about what the language was like many centuries ago.

    There are no associations.
    Again, I didn't say there are. I said that I'm sure there were. I explained my point. You have the right to hold a different opinion. But what makes you ascribe to me what I didn't say again?

    Sorry, Charlie. I don't think that's a good idea to continue this. After what I've heard I don't think it's worth it.
    Last edited by GeneD; 23-Apr-2020 at 20:25. Reason: Added a bit of text.
    If it's not too much trouble to you, could you please correct any errors I might have made in this post?

  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #25

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    I'll give the full quote of mine if you don't mind. . . . .
    Sorry. Of course I read your entire entry. All I was saying that it just seems you're speculating that English has had the same figure of speech. It's certainly not impossible. I'm just saying there's no reason to think that it ever happened.

    We just share our limited knowledge of English here. Yes, we might be wrong.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #26

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    All I was saying that it just seems you're speculating that English has had the same figure of speech.
    Maybe it had, maybe not. I didn't say definitely it should have had. I only asked questions to the forum and maybe even more to myself...

    I'm just saying there's no reason to think that those synomyms ever existed (or should have existed) in English.
    I see a couple of possible reasons, and I already mentioned them.

    First, in ancient times, there were not many means to define the cardinal directions. The situation of the sun was the simplest of them and many peoples (not only European) used it. We mentioned "east" and "west", you remember. I didn't know that the old Russian words "закат" (sunset) and "восход" (sunrise) in the sense of "west" and "east" have their "relatives" in English, but when you said in post #4...
    east = start of day and west = end of day.
    ...I thought that the same words with the same meaning as their Russian counterparts could be in English as well and... Voila! The etymology dictionary shares the opinion. (Not forgetting to insert 'perhaps', of course. ) See my post #12. So is it so unlikely to have similarities like these between our languages?

    In the same post, there is some information about the word "south" as well.
    South is perhaps from Proto-Germanic *sunthaz, perhaps literally "sun-side". Sun-side seems to be connected to the noon indirectly, because the sun points directly at the south at noon. Again perhaps...
    Do you have many suggestions of why they possibly called the south "sun-side"? Only a couple spring to mind. Either the sun was a kind of symbol that defined the places that were warmer and more sunlit than their place of life,
    or the sun was the means of orientation and pointed at the south. The second seems more probable to me because the two directions we discussed above were connected to the position of the sun in the sky. And if the second is true, at what time could it point at the south? In the morning? Evening? Of course not, right? Only at noon it can point at the south. Hence the possible association. Hence the possibility that there were other words. I reiterate, maybe.
    So aren't there any reasons to suggest the possibility that there were words that shared the same or similar notions as "noon" and "south"? I think there are. But it's only a suggestion. Not a statement that there were. I never said so.

    We're just sharing our limited knowledge of English. Yes, we might be wrong.
    Agree.
    Last edited by GeneD; 23-Apr-2020 at 23:25.
    If it's not too much trouble to you, could you please correct any errors I might have made in this post?

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #27

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Why not? We have an old American saying: Anything's possible for a Peabody.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #28

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    I think your question is a good one, GeneD, and very interesting too.

    I think we've made it clear though that none of us have any particularly useful insight on this matter, unfortunately. If you do find any links, I'd be very interested to know what they are.

  9. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #29

    Re: south=noon, north=midnight (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    Except those who write etymology dictionaries (and who are mostly the only readers of what they wrote) and this crazy Russian on UsingEnglish?
    OK- no English speaker minus two. Three, even.

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