English synonyms with different roots (Germanic and Romance)

<nitpick>
-able is of Latin origin
</nitpick>

It is indeed obvious that if there is an immediate need for a word to refer to something (and of course particular needs are debatable), a people are not going to just wait around for a “better” one from another language before they talk about it. "Sky’ isn’t of English origin, but “above” and “up” are–both these words afford other ways to refer to what “sky” refers to. In that way, it’s an interesting observation to bring up “sky,” in that because it’s a substantive, it in a way is an abstraction, and perhaps that indicates something about it’s “foreign” origin.

Some of these have Germanic adjectives, though, too. Gold and tin are often their own adjectives (gold watch, The Tin Drum). Also, e.g., man/manly, child/childish, iron/ironic.

Cease and desist are both from the Latin.

Just because something is “obvious” doesn’t mean that it is actually true! :slight_smile:

People adopt new words, change or extend or restrict existing meanings, and abandon words, for all sorts of reasons. Logical necessity is only one of those reasons. So far as I can make out, “sky” provides a more precise, unambiguous meaning than the Old English word “lyft”. But what logical benefit is gained by abandoning “nim(-)” for “take”? Or by replacing some (but only some) Old English pronouns with Scandinavian ones? What need was met by various unrelated Balkan languages creating a postpositional definite article when more closely related languages did not? What need was met by certain French dialects abandoning certain Latin numerals in favour of a construction based on “four-twenties”?

It’s all very well to assert nice-sounding logical principles founded on abstract reasoning; but that’s to ignore the evidence of how language actually works and changes. Some or many language changes are indeed “obvious”; but there are plenty of other changes that are clearly anything but.

And while the origins of “abet” seem to be disputed, it’s not a word with a pure-blood Germanic pedigree.

ventral - abdominal

Both from Latin! :slight_smile:

Of course you can’t always explain why every change has taken place after a word has already been in use. (Though I would say neither can you judge with too much certainty the “precision” of any meaning hundreds of years removed from context.) And you can rattle off all kinds of specific word changes or adoptions, but so what? The fact that “nim-” was replaced by “take” is not really relevant to the point that words like “apse” and “govern” are not Germanic because of historical context.

To get back to the original point, of the two to three hundred or so most commonly spoken English words today (Michigan corpus), I’d say no more than 5% are not of Old English origin (“take” being one of the highest on the list). We can’t always explain why the changes do happen, but they don’t happen in a vacuum, spontaneously. Without some cause for change (whatever it may be), the lexicon will more or less remain as it is.

Very interesting thread!
As a Spanish speaker (Spanish is a derivation of vulgar Latin) I found it amazing how many Latin words had the English dictionary, and also how many words are Germanic.
In Spanish, Germanic words are just a few of Visigoth influence, but quite amazingly, are those that sound more “Spanish” (Bandido, Bernardo, Banda, Guzman, Bandera, for example).

In any case, this is something that I love of English. A language that seems to be a perfect fusion of Latin, French and German influences.

My favorite pair is
island /isle; island is from Germanic, isle from French>Latin.

Well, I’ll be damned. You appear to be right.