11 June 2008

More on Happy Ends

Since comments are not exactly pouring in, I will just tell you the reason I think the Russian "kheppi end", borrowed from English "happy end," is weird. It's because, at least in my dialect of English, one rarely says "happy end;" it's much more common to talk about happy endings. So it's odd that Russian didn't borrow that form. Seems relevant that end and ending mean almost the same thing; that they don't mean exactly the same thing (and they don't, I think) is a fine enough point that it doesn't interfere with understanding.

But how and why did that –ing get lost? Did the common appearance of the words (written) "THE END" (not "THE ENDING") at the end of films, stories and plays have some influence on it? Or maybe it was influenced by the relative cognitive difficulties of dealing with nouns that have verbal morphology on them? (I know, I should know what they're called. Gerundives? Anyway, Russian doesn't have them.)

Or is this just another of the many lexical differences between British and American English that have made me look dumb so many times in the last two years? (Seriously. You have no idea how many there are until you go about correcting what you perceive to be errors in Russians' English, only to find out that they're actually speaking correct British English.)

10 comments:

daedalus said...

I meant to comment on your last post, and I was going to say exactly what you've said. In German they also say 'happy end' without the -ing, and I'm not sure where it came from. I think your theory about 'the end' is pretty good, though.

Luke said...

Have you ever seen this list?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gairaigo_and_Wasei-eigo_terms

Luke said...

HTML link

Leslie said...

Luke: No, I hadn't! That's interesting, thanks.

Celine said...

Aaah, so that's wat you meant! Sorry, I guess it's my mind that is dirty for both of us...

Nana said...

I will see Luke's Japanese post and raise you some Konglish:

set = combo
cider = 7-up or Sprite
service = complimentary
toast = grilled sandwich with a fried egg in it
"Fighting!" = "Let's go team!"

Found a web site with some details: http://efl.htmlplanet.com/konglish.htm

Leslie said...

Haha, "Fighting!" makes me laugh every time.

Nana said...

The best thing about "Fighting!" is that you can turn any gerund into a cheer that way. For instance, the subways here have the areas where you're supposed to stand while you wait for the door to open marked with "Waiting." So when Justin and I wait for the subway, we always go, "Waiting!" in the same tone of voice as "Fighting!" as we cheer ourselves on. You could also be "Eating!" at dinner, or "Sleeping!" as you go to bed. It is highly flexible and very good for your self-esteem.

Leslie said...

Celine: I'm never going to be able to hear the phrase "happy end" again without thinking of you. ;)

Nana: Commenting!

Luke said...

Interesting, service (saabisu) = complimentary/free in Japanese as well