make out

Discuss word origins and meanings.

make out

Post by Phoebe » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:07 pm

French friend said he had to make out with his wife after unpleasant return from long trip. Of course he meant make up. When did these phrases come about?
Last edited by Phil White on Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: make out

Post by Phil White » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:40 pm

The Online Etymology Dictionary says that this meaning of "make up" first appeared in print in 1669. It doesn't say where.

It also says
Make out "get along" is first recorded 1609, sense of "understand" is from 1646, sexual sense first recorded 1939.
I don't know whether it is to my shame or not that I didn't even know it had a sexual sense, but then again, I'm a Brit. Hmm... dictionary ... chiefly US and Canadian ... "necking and petting" ... And I always thought "petting" was what one did to a dog. Heigh ho!
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Re: make out

Post by dalehileman » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:21 pm

Hi Phil, in Leftpond "petting" has meant heavy necking and groping for as long as I can remember, and I'm really old
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Re: make out

Post by Tony Farg » Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:04 pm

Is necking derived from "rubber necking" or am I mixing my whatsits?
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Re: make out

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:26 pm

No or yes. Rubber-necking here is gawking across the median at an 'accident'.
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Re: make out

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:50 am

.. toni maybe this where necking started .. be warned .. this is an uncensored picture of necking ..
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Re: make out

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:12 am

Phoebe wrote:French friend said he had to make out with his wife after unpleasant return from long trip. Of course he meant make up. When did these phrases come about?
Hi Phoebe,
I may not be able to supply an exact date for the above expression but I can tell you that it is a phrasal verb. Phrasal verbs are constructed using a verb plus adverb/preposition.
Phrasal verbs are never constructed using latin-origin verbs such as "organise" which suggests to me that they are pre-French invasion.
In modern usage a phrasal verb is mainly used in spoken English and Latin based verbs are prefered in formal writing. Again, this suggests to me that they were in use pre-French invasion (1066) and went out of favour as French became the prefered language of the court and formal communication. This historical shift in language persists to this day.

In terms of the two phrasal verbs you asked about, the Etmology seems to have changed over the years.
"make out" - transitive (Can you make out what he said?) is the earliest. 1600s.
"make out" - intransitive (Let's make out) is mid 20th Century and I suspect American in origin. I wonder if this meaning has come from an imported expression from another langauge such as "How you doing?" or "Stop busting my balls". Though this is probably not the case since I don't know of the use of Phrasal verbs in other lanaguages.

Hope you find this helpful.
Last edited by PhilHunt on Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: make out

Post by gdwdwrkr » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:19 am

Great site to gawk at, WoZ.
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Phrasal verbs

Post by Phil White » Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:31 pm

Although the actual term "phrasal verb" is rarely used outside of the study of English, similar mechanisms exist in many other languages (although I've only seen discussions of IE languages).

Scholars take different views as to whether the term should be applied to the mechanisms used in other languages. Traditionally, the term is not used elsewhere.

Structurally, English is a Germanic language, most closely related to modern German, modern Low German and modern Dutch of the extant languages, and all these languages plus the Scandinavian branch of the IE languages feature verbs that use virtually identical mechanisms.

In modern German, there are two ways of adding a prepositional particle to a verb, giving rise to "separable" and "inseparable" verbs. The separables in particular correlate closely with the English phrasal verbs (I would say that they are the same thing with different names). In both cases, the meaning of the phrasal (separable) verb is not predictable from the meanings of its constituent parts. and hence appears as a separate lexical item in a dictionary.

Thus we have things like
aufstehen (ich stehe auf): to get up (from bed), but also the predictable meaning "stand up"
ausmachen (das macht viel aus): to matter, be of importance, but also "switch off" as in "to switch the radio off"

Strangely, the majority (personal impression after 25 years translating the buggers) of German separable verbs are regularly or at least can be rendered by English phrasal verbs, but infuriatingly, very few of them use corresponding components in either the verb or the preposition.

To my mind, the German separable verbs are analogous in form and function to the English phrasals. Similar or identical structures are found in the Scandinavian languages and in Dutch.

But the inseparable verbs in German also have counterparts in English, although again, the constituent parts may not correspond semantically. Take, for instance
  • "überholen" - overtake: made up of "über" (over) and "holen" (fetch) and the meaning is not predictable from these constituents
  • "overtake": made up of "over" and "take", and the meaning is not predictable from these constituents
With the inseparables, the particle is always bound to the verb stem, and such compound verbs abound in both English and German, with some (by no means all) correlating both in meaning and in their constituent parts.

It is my observation that where the meaning is largely predictable from the constituent parts, there is a greater likelihood of a correlation between both constituent parts and meaning in German and constituent parts and meaning in German English ("überlasten" = "overload", where the meaning of the whole is predictable from the constituent parts in both languages and the meanings of the constituent parts also correlate). With non-predictable meanings, at least one of the constituent parts is less likely to correlate ("verstehen"/"understand").

Now, both separables and inseparables in German are part of the more general phenomenon of compound verbs. Again, compound verbs are separate lexical items from the root verb, because their meanings are not predictable from their constituent parts.

Compound verbs comprising a verb and a particle are found throughout the IE family (and almost certainly elsewhere, but my knowledge is insufficient to confirm that). It appears that such compound verbs are easily transported between related languages:
Englishprefer
Frenchpréférer
Italianpreferire
Spanishpreferir
(Incidentally, there is often a correlation between Germanic and Romance languages here, where the meanings - but not the form - of the constituent parts correlate to some degree: "vorziehen" = prefer.)

Some people see phrasal verbs (and German separables) simply as language-specific instances of compound verbs, in which case they are unique to the given language in specific structure only, but not in terms of the underlying concept of combining a verb with a perpositional/adverbial particle to create a compound with an unpredictable meaning.

It is wrong to say that English phrasal verbs are never constructed from Romance-origin words. (e.g. "face up to", "carry on", "turn in"), but they do tend to be constructed from the most common verbs in the language, most of which are Germanic in origin. Compound verbs which have been taken directly from Romance languages (where the particle is inseparable) have remained inseparable in English.

What is interesting is that, as hinted at above, Germanic separables (many of which existed prior to the evolution of English) appear rarely to have been taken over into English unless their meaning is predictable ("stand up" = "aufstehen / ich stehe auf"). This indicates to me that they evolved entirely separately (with the predictable ones possibly evolving coincidentally). I may, of course, be wrong.
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Re: make out

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:24 pm

PhilWhite
Why do I get the feeling that your replies are always aimed my way? ;)

What I said about phrasal verbs not taking Latin based verbs was not something that I made up. I read it in the Historical Linguistics just the other day, so you can take that up with Mr. Lehmann.

I personally know nothing about the origin of Phrasal verbs and found your post incredibly interesting.
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Re: make out

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:31 am

We all enjoy the Phils-ossifying.
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Re: make out

Post by trolley » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:43 am

Out and out OPL! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! Has anyone ever blown coffee out of their nose and onto their keyboard? If so, how do you clean it?
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Re: make out

Post by Phil White » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:48 am

PhilHunt wrote:Why do I get the feeling that your replies are always aimed my way? ;)
Who else talks about grammar and structure here?
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Re: Phrasal verbs

Post by PhilHunt » Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:29 pm

Phil White wrote:What is interesting is that, as hinted at above, Germanic separables (many of which existed prior to the evolution of English) appear rarely to have been taken over into English unless their meaning is predictable ("stand up" = "aufstehen / ich stehe auf"). This indicates to me that they evolved entirely separately (with the predictable ones possibly evolving coincidentally). I may, of course, be wrong.
In relation to your above musings, I read something on this subject just the other day.
I'll paraphrase what it said:
Modern English and Modern German share a common source in West Saxon, which was the common dialect at the end of the ninth century. In Old English there were three distinct dialects, Kentish, West Saxon and Northern (or Anglian). English Saxon used to be distinguished from Old Saxon maintained on the continent by using the title of Anglo-Saxon.
The West Germanic dialect or WW is broken into Old, Middle and Modern periods. Old gernerally refers to the Germanic languages before the twelfth century, Middle from the twelfth to the fifteenth and New to the susequent period.
In the thirteenth century the cultural centre of Germany was in the south. During the fourteenth C. the political centre moved further north and the political language of the Reformers, such as Martin Luther, became the basis for Modern German.
The West Saxon dialect in England did not follow the same course as modern German and its evolution into Middle English then finally the London dialect, which became the model for standard English, is not a direct continuation of the prominent language of the older period.
So, an interesting question might be, do the Germanic seperables appear in both English Saxon and Old Saxon and do the same forms of modern Germanic seperables appear in Old Saxon on the continent or were they a later evolution from the influence of the northern German dialects?
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Re: make out

Post by Phil White » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:06 pm

That would require a far better historical linguist than I.

It's a sign of my carelessness as a historical linguist that I just spent a couple of hours wading through a few pages of the Codex Argenteus or Wulfila Bible (there is a beautiful facsilile online here) before I remembered that Gothic is a different branch of the Germanic family from English. But I enjoyed visiting an old friend again, even though I discovered that I have forgotten almost all I ever knew. So at least for that, this thread has served me well.
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