or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fear and Loathing

So what's in the news? High gas prices, war in Iraq, and some guy named Calvin Broadus got himself banned from British Airways for life for being a violent asshole.

Here's a sentence from the news story:

The six men were arrested on charges of "violent disorder and affray" - or creating a brawl or disturbance - and spent the night at London police stations.

Now: doesn't "affray" look like a couple of other words you know?

My first thought was that "affray" and "fray" were obviously related, and possibly even that "affray" had become "a fray" through something called junctural metanalysis. Don't know about the second half of this, but the first half is undoubtedly true: both words stem from Old French "esfraier", "to disturb", which became in French "effrei" (it lost its ess, something which has happened a lot in French words, as I wrote about a year ago) and the Middle English "affrai".

My second thought was that "affray" looks and sounds an awful lot like "afraid", since if we were to turn "affray" into a verb, sooner or later we'd get "affrayed". And what do you know? "Afraid" is also from the same root; Middle English had the verb "affraien" (which has a Germanic verb ending but is otherwise the same as French "effrei") which led to the past participle "affraied", which led to the Modern English adjective "afraid". And while we're at it, "effrayer", which is obviously from "esfraier"/"effrei", is the modern French word for "to frighten".


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