Fin/ terme: x realisations of one concept?

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ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
Is there any rationale for why languages have various "realizations" of one concept? Or how competition arises between an old term and a new one? Can that be referred to as redundancy? Of course assuming there is an "underlying" concept might already be a brige too far, though that is accepted (...) by semasiology, I think. But OK... References to sites explaining or commenting on that or suggesting reasons for that can do, but of course more is welcome. There might not be one explanation.

French for example has this subtle difference between "terme/terminer" and "fin/finir" whereas Dutch only has "einde/ eindigen", German "Ende/ enden", I think. Of course English has "end" and "finish" as well, but the distinction is far easier to handle, I think.

More examples (illustrating some kind of redundancy) welcome as well
 
  • Dymn

    Senior Member
    Catalan has acabar (cap = "head", related to achever, achieve) and terminar, but the latter is very rare. "Terme" is used in dur a terme "to carry out" (lit. "to bring to term"). In Spanish both acabar and terminar are common, and "to carry out" is llevar a cabo.

    As for the first paragraph, I think redundancy is when you have a sentence where one element is superfluous, if you said "I want to finish and end something", that could be redundancy. Are you just asking for synonyms?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The essential question is in the first line of the thread: is there a rationale or a specific logical reason for having more words for one concept? Not asking for synonyms really but it may be interesting to make it more concrete by illustrating in very concrete ways.

    Redundancy: I beg to disagree. You are referring to a tautology, where one of them is redundant indeed, but I think redundancy can be far more general. I must say that, while checking on it at Wikipedia, it seems to be narrower than what I thought and think, but the main thing is not the word. Rather the question whether similar (apparent) "doublures" can be considered "superfluous" (redundant) in some way... [Addition: in the Dutch Wikipedia version I find a lot more examples of redundancy, of all forms...]
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Language is a product of collective, and usually spontaneous generation of new lexemes and rules. Only special languages (technology, medicine, etc.) are regulated. In common language asking for a rationale is mistaken.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I was afraid so, at least if taken as "a strictly rational explanation". But it does not need to be a rational explanation as for me. It might be some "mechanism", cultural influence, so a reason or a cause of some kind.
    For example: I suppose there are reasons for example why one word is superseded (...) by another. I read for example that "window" replaced Old English eagþyrl, literally "eye-hole," and eagduru, literally "eye-door". Can some reason be found for that?
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Dutch only has "einde/ eindigen", German "Ende/ enden",
    German has also fertigstellen, vervollständigen, einstellen, aufhören, beenden, zu Ende bringen... depending on context.

    logical reason for having more words for one concept?
    Well, can you imagine how poor a language would be if it possessed only one word for each concept? No more nuances, no more poetry, no more differences between higher and lower style, no more different derivations, a grey literature (if any)..
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    For sure, I quite agree. I thought of the above two words, because to me they seem like key words to me, the "basic" words (cannot find a better term here now).
    The variation as such is due to the need for specific meanings, I think, for distinctions, and I love those, for sure. I even think that is a rationale. The whole thing is however that the distinction fin/ terme is a fairly difficult one in idioms , whereas they are something like key/... words (as I said, but give me better suggestions), which got me wondering about this "doublure"...
     

    gburtonio

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Some corpus linguists have argued that, when you start to look at corpus evidence, there's no such thing as a true synonym. You will always find some difference between two apparent synonyms, for example in their collocational behaviour (the other words they tend to appear with / near to), their colligational behaviour (the kind of syntactic context they tend to appear in), the register they are associated with and so on. Of course, when you look cross linguistically you will find differences; maybe that's not so different to the concept of semantic fields (e.g. Greek uses the word χέρι for both hand and arm).
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks for reminding me of semantic fields.

    Very interesting contribution, and indeed, with fin/terme there might be something similar: some people have tried to describe the difference. In such a field fin/terme would be unmarked, I think, the other, more specific ones, marked...
     
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