Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Separated by a Common Language

Among the things one learns when publishing in a British journal: To "table" an idea or discussion point means one thing in US English and the exact opposite of that thing in UK English. (Now all we need is a third definition that has something to do with a camel and we can conclude that 'to table' is actually a loanword from Arabic.)

Edited, 2:30 pm, to add: Modern Standard Arabic for table (n.) is ṭāwilah (طاولة). Here, in Lane's lexicon of classical Arabic, is a verb (yataṭāwalu) derived from the same root (Ṭ-W-L) to mean "to be overbearing in such a way as to drive other animals away from the she-camels." So there we go.

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