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Taka

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How come "but" can mean not only "however" but also "only"??

They are semantically totally different, you know...
 

Tdol

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It's a flexible little word. ;-)
 

Taka

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tdol said:
It's a flexible little word. ;-)

Why "flexible" that way? "However" vs. "only"...How are they related to each other??
 

Casiopea

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Taka said:
Why "flexible" that way? "However" vs. "only"...How are they related to each other??

As an adverb, but (meaning, nothing more than) is synonymous with only:

EX: He was only/but a child"
EX: Hopes that last but/only a moment

Note their origin in Old English (OE), but (adv.) unless, without, outside (of); only (adv.) unique, solitary. There's a semantic tie between outside (of) and solitary .

As a conjunction, but was not used as a conjunction in OE. Today, but (meaning with the exception that) is synonymous with however. Both mark an opposition in passing from one thought to another; possible tie: outside of the fact that...

EX: This is not winter, but it is almost as cold.
EX: This is not winter; it is, however, almost as cold

Usage: but marks the opposition with a medium degree of strength. however is weaker, and throws the opposition into the background. (still is stronger than but, and marks the opposition more emphatically.)

Source
 

Taka

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Thanks. But I know the usage.

I'm interested in the deriviation. How does a single word "but" has two meanings which don't seem to be related to each other?
 

Casiopea

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Taka said:
Thanks. But I know the usage.

I'm interested in the deriviation. How does a single word "but" have two meanings which don't seem to be related to each other?

Derivation? I don't understand what you mean by 'derivation'.
According to the previous post, the difference in meaning between the two but's has to do with function: one is an adverb, the other a conjunction. The similarity in meaning between but/only and but/however has to do with semantic extension: but means, outside (of)/not inside ~ unique ~ the exception. As an exception it's also an opposition; only means, unique, solitary, sole; however expresses an opposition.
 

Taka

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OK. I understand. Thanks, Cas. :)
 

Taka

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Tdol

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Taka said:
Thanks. But I know the usage.

I'm interested in the deriviation. How does a single word "but" has two meanings which don't seem to be related to each other?

Why not? After all, how can you explain contranyms logically? ;-)
 
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