Missing words in English?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Athelwulf, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Let's find some missing words. Here's an example:

    eat : feed :: drink : ?

    Notice that there's no word (that I know of) for giving someone a drink and having them drink it, in the same way there's a word for giving someone food and having them eat it. There might be some fancy word of Latin or Greek origin, but notice that the three words given are native words; I'm mainly focusing on native word stock. One might possibly argue that when people are eating, they're usually also drinking, so there's often no need for such a distinction. But I don't think it can be explained away this easily.

    If anyone can think of missing words, I'd like to see them. I'm also interested in knowing if there are languages that have these missing words in their own word stock. I'm especially interested in how Esperanto handles them, since it's apparently a very logical (and I assume consistent) language as far as word construction.
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  3. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    You should probably carry your search over to German. Eat: feed derives from essen: fressen.
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  5. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Ja, aber das gleiche Wort auf Deutsch wird auch vermisst:

    essen : füttern :: trinken : ?

    Füttern is "to feed". Ein Baby füttern; to feed a baby. I think this word is even a cognate of "feed". Compare the umlaut in the German-English pair Fuß/Füße and "foot"/"feet" to the same in the hypothetical pair *Fut/füttern and "food"/"feed".

    Fressen means "to eat"; however, I think it's more voracious and ravenous in connotation. Look at the translation.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Partial coverage by "water" - as in "water the animals".

    We've lost a couple of singular pronouns, recently - "thou" has been absorbed into the formerly plural "you", and soon "they" will fill the void of the non-gendered singular third person that the academics tried to fill with "he", by fiat.

    English vocabulary is huge and growing, partly because missing words are simply lifted from other languages. Nomination: we need a term for subtle patterns signifying the presence of mind or complex organization, at the edge of comprehension or description - from the Hawaiian: hei hei, as "he has a hei hei eye" for someone who can spot the difference between ordinary ocean bottom debris and the camaflauge efforts of an octopus around its den.
  8. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

    Can also translate to feed, but in the sense of "I saw the lions feed off a plump gazelle" rather than "I fed the lions".

    manĝi: to eat
    manĝigi: to make eat, i.e. to feed
    trinki: to drink
    trinkigi: to make drink, i.e. to water

    Although you can build words using those rules, there are often alternatives. Nutri: feed, nourish; sounds better than manĝigi to me.

    Esperanto has its own inconsistencies. For a language more firmly (and formally) grounded in logic, try Lojban.
  9. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    We're going partying tonight after we're all fed and watered...

    Usually applied to animals, but I've heard it used for humans as well. Implication of "watered" is ANY drink.
  10. UltiTruth In pursuit... Registered Senior Member

    eat : feed :: drink : suckle :shake:
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    English is a pragmatic language. We tend to retain or create words we need and ignore or lose those we don't. Unlike Esperanto, whose rigid paradigm of suffixes and prefixes guides us into forming words just because we can, regardless of need.

    Apparently, we anglophones don't feel a pressing need for a word meaning "to provide liquid sustenance to," so we haven't bothered to find or build one. Of course language shapes thought, so an outsider might say instead that we happily limp along without the concept since our language provides no easy way for it to pop into our heads.

    That said, "to water" seems to have become established--at least in America--due to its connotation from Frontier days, when water was not easy to find. The press routinely refers to popular bars--even those frequented by such august personages as professors and judges--as "watering holes."

    Notice that Esperanto's rigid paradigm is breaking down: I see the word konatuloj used universally for "acquaintances," when the grammatically proper word is simply konatoj. * Sigh * The last thing our beloved tongue-twisting internacia lingvo needs is more syllables! You can tell that despite UEA headquarters being in Holland, Esperanto is an Eastern European phenomenon, where "more syllables!" is as sincere a cry as "more cowbell!" in American rock music.
  12. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Yeah, but I don't think of it as a word that can be applied to humans in formal, or even semi-formal, speech. It could just be my dialect, though.


    I suppose this works. It doesn't seem to be something someone who spoke my dialect would say, but it could possibly be a native feature of the English language that gradually gained an informal feel.

    I suppose that works if you think of "feed" in the sense of "I saw the lions feed off a plump gazelle" rather than "I have to feed the lions". But I was thinking of the latter sense.

    If this is true, then I find it odd that we wouldn't have this usage (as far as I know) in my corner of Oregon of all places. But I don't travel much, so who knows.
  13. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    quench (I quenched my thirst)
    serve (admittedly usually with an object, but then feed would often have an object. though not with kids who are talked about like they are animals.)
    slake (for oneself)
    pour (I poured)
    nurse (as in the above 'suckle')
    buy (as in 'I'm buying' in bars, etc.)
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    When it is medically necessary, a person is hydrated via an intravenous supply of liquid.

    Perhaps hydrate is a reasonable word here.
  15. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Bartend the baby? No.
    Quench the baby? No. But maybe quench the baby's thirst. But it's not the same.
    Serve the baby? Serve it food, you mean?
    Pour the baby? You can pour the baby a glass of water, but that's analogous to dishing the baby some food.
    Nurse the baby? Can you nurse your 10-year-old son when you're the father?
    Buy the baby? Buy it a drink, but that's not the same.

    I'm talking about a word that's syntactically identical to "feed".

    Maybe a dictionary definition of "feed" will help out here. This is what I'm thinking of: "To give food to; supply with nourishment: feed the children." I'm looking for a word that means to give drinks to.

    Not really, since we're talking about plain feeding people, but with liquids. Plus, "hydrate" isn't a native word. It's an interesting thought though.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Do other languages have a word for it? Is it a common concept in human societies? Do we feel a need for it out in real life? It would be difficult to look up in a bilingual dictionary since there's no English word to index.
  17. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    English is amazing in this way that it is missing words for very basic concepts. Try Cul-de-sac, for example.They have to use the French to describe a road with one end closed.

    The Hungarian word for the OP's concept is Itat (give somebody to drink), the English equivalents are: lush, prime, water (animals)...

    Another concept: Schaudenfraude...

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    Yes, it is an emotion that people feel, other languages use, and English is missing it...
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2007
  18. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Maybe so, but much less pragmatic then other ones. Here is an example using the same verb, what the OP was looking for:

    Leitattam a csajt : I gave/bought so much alcoholic beverage to the girl that she became drunk.

    See how pragmatic other languages can be???

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  19. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Sadism is the derivation of pleasure as a result of the suffering of others. We do have a word for it. But yeah, I guess I can see your point.

    And it's Schadenfreude.
  20. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

    Well no. English was missing it. So we stole / adopted it

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    Schadenfreude and cul-de-sac are now English words, as used by English speakers and listed in English dictionaries

    (All flexible languages do this, of course

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  21. kenworth dude...**** it,lets go bowling Registered Senior Member


    its kind of scary that its such a common occurrence that a phrase that short has been developed.is there a verb "to get a girl drunk"?!
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    How much shorter can you get than "I got her drunk"? That's only four syllables. You can also put it in slang: "I boozed her up." Still four syllables.
  23. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Do not knock English for various words that are missing. Including words borrowed from other languages, it has well over twice the words of any other language. to give a few examples.
    • It is richer in words relating to motion than any other language, including: Fast, slow, leisurely, rapid, quick, swift, speedy, fleet, hasty. It also includes commonly used phrases like: Bat out of hell, at breakneck speed, flat out, and others.

      Some languages have to say not so fast instead of go slower.

    • Ignoring words coined by the paint & cosmetic industries which number in the hundreds (maybe thousands), English is richer than most (all other?) languages in words for various colors, including: Red, blue, green, yellow, orange, black, white, gray, purple, violet, brown, tan. It has a surprising number of words for red hues: Red, pink, vermillion, scarlet, maroon, & crimson (I think there are others).

      In addition to the above are some words not commonly used and nouns used as color words.: Beige, fuchsia, ruby, turquoise, aqua marine, gold, lime, et cetera.

      Oddly enough, somebody once told me that Russian does not have as many color words as English, but it includes a word for some color not expressible in English as a single word.
    BTW: It is interesting that for culture related reasons, some languages have more words for certain concepts than others. For example: Some languages have a large set of words for family relationships. Hebrew and some Semitic languages have words for mother’s brother, father’s older brother, father’s younger brother, and other relationships requiring a phrase in English & most other languages.

    Note that some of these words are due to various customs. For example: In some cultures, a father’s older brother has authority over you, but his younger brothers, and your mother’s brothers do not. A single word (uncle) is not sufficient for certain cultures.

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