Where Words Come from

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Where Words Come From English retains probably the richest vocabulary and most diverse shading of meaning of any language. For example, we can distinguish between childish and childlike, informant and informer, house and home, sensual and sensuous, forceful and forcible (Bryson 68). Almost every word has a multiplicity of synonims - things are not just big, but also large, immense, vast, great, massive, humongous, etc. However, this rich vocabulary carries a danger of verbosity, speech or writing which uses an excess of words, and redundant phrases, for instance: beck and call, law and order, assault and battery, null and void, first and foremost, to all intents and purposes, various different, and many more. In spite of this great amount of terms, a single word in English can be loaded with meanings. Fine, for example, has fourteen definitions as an adjective, six as a noun, and two as an adverb (Bryson 69). However, there are still gaps. English lacks words describing the middle ground between hard and soft, near and far. English has also a large number of negative words, like inept, disheveled, ruthless, unkempt, for which the positive counterpart is missing. The long list of all these examples makes us wonder - where do the words come from? According to Bill Bryson and Otto Jespersen there are five sources of new words: words created by error, adopted words, created words, words changed by doing nothing, and words created by adding or subtracting something. Some words created by errors come from dictionaries. Such occurrences are more common that you might suppose. According to the First Supplement of the Oxford English Dictionary, there are at least 350 words in English dictionaries that were created by typographical errors or other misunderstanding. For example, messuage ("in law, the term messuage equates to a dwelling-house and includes

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