Tuesday, May 12, 2009

-ling

Label for this post is "utterly random." It is an update to my musings of August 3, Dales-ings.

-ling
diminutive suffix, 1314, from Old English -ling a nominal suffix (not originally diminutive): attested in historical Germanic languages as a simple suffix, but probably representing a fusion of the suffixes represented by English -le (compare icicle, thimble, handle), Old English -ol, -ul, -el; and -ing, suffix indicating "person or thing of a specific kind or origin; in masculine nouns also "son of" (compare farthing, atheling, Old English horing "adulterer, fornicator"). Both these suffixes had occasional dimunitive force, but this was only slightly evident in Old English -ling and its equivalents in Germanic languages except Old Norse, where it commonly was used as a diminutive suffix, especially in words designating the young of animals (e.g. g├Žslingr "gosling"). Thus it is possible that the diminutive use that developed in Middle English is from Old Norse.

*edited in order to expand abbreviations

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