dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #1015

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Wed May 18 14:16:34 EDT 2005

minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>Colin bounced happily:
>>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
I think you're getting my '<'s back to front. I'm saying 'fleme' derives 
from 'flee' (and actually of course I mean it derives from an earlier 
form of 'flee'). I read your original statement as saying that the noun 
'fleme' was primary, and the OED backs that up: the verb 'flemen' comes 
from the noun.

And yes, the derivation might certainly go back beyond English. After 
all, 'stem' (which I believe to be of the same form, and exactly 
parallel with Latin 'stamen') appears in German too, as 'der Stamm'.  
I'm pretty sure that 'stem' and 'Stamm' are cognate, but I'm not at all 
sure the compound goes back beyond Germanic: that's why I described 
'stamen' as parallel, not as cognate.
It might be cognate though: there is one example of the form that is 
known in pretty well every branch of IE: 'name', Lat. 'nomen', Gk 
'onoma', Russ. 'imja', Skt. 'naman' (I think), Irish 'ainm', Hittite 

It is well known that there is

>(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.)
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