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February 18, 2013
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Percy has definitely put his finger on the root of the bring/take confusion. The influence of German/ Yiddish on colloquial American usage is colossal. The bring/take confusion is fairly simple to resolve: German has no separate word for "take" i.e. to convey something away from the speaker, instead using the directional prefixes hin- and her- to convey "away from me" and "toward me" respectively with the root verb bringen, the result being that most Americans use "bring" regardless of the direction. This has occasionally resulted in misunderstandings with my wife (I being a native Brit and she a full-blooded American) when she enquires whether I could possibly "bring" something to the office, leaving me in some doubt as to whether she means her office or mine. But this is only one of many possible misapprehensions. When I first came to this great country, I attempted to contact someone whose secretary informed me that he had "just stepped out" (apparently Americans don't just leave their offices) but that he would return "momentarily".(German Augenblicklich). I was tempted to ask whether he would be back long enough to talk to me. In my humble British dialect (but didn't we kind of invent the language?) "momentarily" means "for a moment" not "in a moment" as the German equivalent does. The same German original "Hoffentlich" (It is hoped that) has led to the insidious use of the adverb "Hopefully", the original meaning of which was "in a hopeful manner". And finally one encounters such abominations as "First quality" (erste Qualitaet) rather than the English "top quality".
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