dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #1015

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed May 18 13:01:26 EDT 2005


Colin bounced happily:

>minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
>>It's a bit sad, but "flemen" just meant "to put to flight" in Middle
>>English, "flem" being flight and "fleme" being fugative, as well as
>>"flemer" being banisher, all from the Anglo-Saxon "fleam", flight.
>>
>Ha. Didn't know that word. I can add it to my list of English deverbals
>in -m
>(fleme < flee, seam < sew, team < tow, as well as beam, stem, stream,
>name from well known roots that don't survive as independent words in
>English). Cognate with Greek -ma, Latin -men, Russian -mja.

It looks as if "flee" comes from "fleen" (which means "to flee, flinch or
fall back", and is from the Anglo-Saxon "fleogan, fleon") rather than from
"flemen" (which means "to force to leave" and comes from the Anglo-Saxon
"fleman, flyman") so that isn't quite fair: they were two different words
before English was words at all.  How early are you counting as being
"English"?

(I haven't got the relevant fascicule of the Middle English Dictionary in
the house, so I'm not one hundred per cent confident about this, but the
information in Mayhew and Skeat's *Concise Dictionary of Middle English* is
usually reliable enough, and the glossary in Tolkien's edition of Gawain
supports what I have said above.)

Minnow


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