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Thread: Con or com.

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    Con or com.

    When I was in the sauna today, this question just popped up in my head for some reason, so I'll pass it to anyone enthusiastic about etymology: why is it comfort but conform?

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    First off . . . do you think you might be spending a little too much time in the heat? How long had you been in there for a question like that to just "pop" into your head. Geeze, woman. More wine. Less sauna. That's what you need.

    But, to answer your question. Here are the origins. Looks as though someone just started mispronouncing something along the way . . .

    Comfort
    Etymology: Middle English comfort, confort, from Old French confort, from conforter, v.

    Conform
    Etymology: Middle English conformen, from Middle French conformer, from Latin conformare to form, conform, from com- + formare to form, from forma form

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    W

    More couples to think hard on:
    Communist and condom
    Conman and commodity

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    Quote Originally Posted by elis View Post
    First off . . . do you think you might be spending a little too much time in the heat? How long had you been in there for a question like that to just "pop" into your head. Geeze, woman. More wine. Less sauna. That's what you need.

    But, to answer your question. Here are the origins. Looks as though someone just started mispronouncing something along the way . . .

    Comfort
    Etymology: Middle English comfort, confort, from Old French confort, from conforter, v.

    Conform
    Etymology: Middle English conformen, from Middle French conformer, from Latin conformare to form, conform, from com- + formare to form, from forma form
    but remind me when did con turn into com?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertina View Post
    but remind me when did con turn into com?
    The day someone had too much Merlot, and com was easier to say than con . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertina View Post
    but remind me when did con turn into com?
    It sounds as if you are trying to make sense of english. You should give up now or I'll ask for 8 different ways to pronounce "ough".

    What rules we have are honoured more in the breach than the observance.
    Don't you know this deuce is still wild.

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    Gypsy, everything has a reason. If we don't know it, doesn't mean it ain't there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertina View Post
    Gypsy, everything has a reason. If we don't know it, doesn't mean it ain't there.
    Of the 5 tests we may know, What,Where,When, and Who;but not know Why.
    Some things do not have a reason; even if they do have an explanation.
    Don't you know this deuce is still wild.

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    Ok, if you want to call it an explanation, I would be happy to get it as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertina View Post
    Ok, if you want to call it an explanation, I would be happy to get it as well.
    I suspect the split came around the time printing became widely used.

    the french pronounce "com" as "con" so I think it likely that once the two versions got printed the British started pronouncing the "m".

    I would stress that that is a complete guess. But I do have a brain the size of a planet so who knows, I might be right.
    Don't you know this deuce is still wild.

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    Good point! Thank you for prompting another question: why do the French pronounce con'fort and the English 'comfort'.
    My guess (and my brain is the size of a small planet) is that the French are too lazy to say 'mf'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertina View Post
    Good point! Thank you for prompting another question: why do the French pronounce con'fort and the English 'comfort'.
    My guess (and my brain is the size of a small planet) is that the French are too lazy to say 'mf'
    That may be so.

    Alternatively the fault may lie with the english. Our language is about 40% French, 40% German and a sprinkling of scotch, irish etc.

    It is more likely that we changed the pronunciation as we incorporated the other languages.
    Don't you know this deuce is still wild.

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    English is certainly not a consistent language when it comes to spelling but I would guess that the reason here is that 'com' tends to be stressed and 'con' tends to be unstressed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alterego View Post
    English is certainly not a consistent language when it comes to spelling but I would guess that the reason here is that 'com' tends to be stressed and 'con' tends to be unstressed.
    Except not in the examples Andrey S gave above: Condom, commodity. Or in community, convict (the noun, not the verb).

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirk10071 View Post
    Except not in the examples Andrey S gave above: Condom, commodity. Or in community, convict (the noun, not the verb).

    I can give more with stress on the first syllable:
    contact, concur, condiment

    Btw, Kirk (maybe you guess), I set condom above because it sounds extremely rude in Russian when applied to a person.
    Kind of joke.
    Last edited by AndreyS; 02-07-2008 at 12:30.

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