Monday, March 03, 2014

Crime, defined

(From the excellent Bucks County
Bookshop
in Doylestown, Pa.)
"What is crime, anyway?" Palmqvist said as we shared a pizza.

"I'll tell you," she went on before I could answer:
"1. Crime, adopted from OF-F, derives from L crimen, *that which serves to sift (hence, to decide), decision, esp a legal one, hence an accusation,  finally the object of the accusation—the misdeed itself, the crime: for *cernīmen (cf regimen from regere, s reg-), from cernere, to sift: f.a.e. CERTAIN, para 1."
No, I'm not
We'd planned the heist for months, timing cash deliveries and pickups, noting the employees' habits: who showed up on time, who made sure everything was locked and sealed, who didn't give a crap because the bank was likely to be sold to a whole new, bigger bank, with a whole new set of customer-service slogans and a whole new set of fees by the time she got back from lunch.

We knew things could change, but we never imagined that Your Local Bank would be sold off and converted to a pizzeria before we could stick it up. So Palmqvist and I had reason to be pensive.

"Robbery," I said,
"derives from MF roberie, robber from MF robeor, both F words coming from OF-ME rober, to rob, whence, ME robben, E `to rob'; OF rober comes from OF robe, booty, whence, in MF-F—from booty in the form of robes—a gown, a robe, adopted by ME: and OF-F robe comes from W Gmc *rauba, booty: cf OHG roub, MHG roup, G Raub, spoil, robbery, and OHG roubōn, MHG rouben, G rauben, Go bi-raubōn, to which are prob akin the Go raupjan, to pluck, and OHG roufēn, MHG roufen, G raufen, to pluck, to fight, and perh akin, the ON riūfa, L rumpere (nasalized *rup-), to break."
"I know what you mean," she said, sighing. "I'm bedraggled. See draggle at DRAW."


[More to come (pt came, pp. come, presp [and vn] coming ...)]
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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2 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

More proof that language is constantly evolving . . . so are crimes and criminals . . . consider, for example, crimes in the past that earned a fellow a trip to the gallows but now gets a fellow probation . . . now "gallows" is an interesting word, which is already a museum piece (except for countries that still use gallows -- alas, poor Saddam Hussein).

March 03, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

gallows (pl gallowses) n hence adj; ME galwes (pl): OE galga, gealga (sing), a gallows, a cross: akin to OFris galga, OS and OHG galgo, MHG galge, gallows, cross (of Christ), G. Golgen, gallows, Go galga, ON galge, -gi, cross (of Christ): Gmc r, *galg-, IE r *ghalgh-: cf Lith žalga, Arm jalk, a pole. Cf GIBBET and nautical JIB.

Yep, that's a good one. These etymologies remind me that I see changes happening every day, and that I must strike a balance between recognizing change, and insisting upon what I regard as proper usage.

March 03, 2014  

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