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Germanic and Latin 1: "Sing" and "Chant"

“Sing” and “chant” mean something similar. “Sing” is a basic term with Germanic roots which means every kind of singing, and with its short /i/, it can well stand for something joyful, powerful. “Chant”, on the other hand, although also monosyllabic, has a long /a/, and therefore looks lame, sounds lame, and means lame: “to sing or intone a religious song”. What it means is not the specific human drive-like capacity to make harmonious noises, but a culturally specific, ceremonial kind of singing. In other words, we are talking about nature (Germanic) against society (Latin). As so often in the English language, the difference between English deriving from Germanic and from Latin is one in which meaning and sound cooperate.

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann