The Mendelian Genetics of the English Language by Gaurang Bhatt, MD SignUp
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The Mendelian Genetics
of the English Language
by Gaurang Bhatt, MD Bookmark and Share
 

Mendel in his elegant genetic experiments with peas clearly demonstrated the digital nature of inheritance by showing that the so called recessive traits of the first generation, while not overt in the second generation, re-emerged on crossing the second generation as overt traits in the third generation.

Standard charts of the Indo-European language family tree shows a Eurocentric bias by showing Greek, Italic, Germanic, Slavic, Celtic, Baltic and even Armenian and Albanian as direct daughter languages of Indo-European, while Sanskrit is a grand-daughter or sub-branch of Indo-Iranian. No plausible explanation is given why Lithuanian, which is spoken in a land farthest from India is closer to Sanskrit than languages spoken in the in between countries. It is painfully obvious that Greek has significant ancestral relationship to German and English and to the Slavic tongues. Latin has major contributions to English, which may be attributed to later Roman and Norman conquests, but the Greek connection has to be via German and thus it is arbitrary to assign Germanic languages a direct descent from Indo-European and equally improbable that the Celtic languages would have the same privileged position.

This would imply that these eight direct descendents peeled off one by one without significant contact or intermingling with each group taking separate and direct scheduled flights from Proto-Indo- European international airport in the Caucasus to their respective homelands.

Without pursuing this murky controversy, let me try and give you some of the sources of the different genetic components of English, which still betray their origin after millennia. Saxon and Norman heritages are the most recent and a good place to start.

Of Germanic antecedents -
1) Words beginning with SH as sheep, shield, ship
2) Words beginning with TH as thin, then, thick, thaw
3) Words beginning with W like wasp, wash, water, ware
4) Words beginning with SK e.g. skin, skip, skim, skirt, sky
5) Words containing GH like laughter, through, rough, taught
6) Words in which plural or past tenses are inflected e.g. mouse-mice, foot-feet, build-built, send-sent.

Of French or Latin origin -
1) The combinations of CT, TI( pronounced SH ) and SC like junction, action, scale, scion, script, punctate
2) Words containing the sound Z represented by the French J or Jeu or G e.g. vision, derision, rouge
3) Words starting with J and G pronounced like jam as in gentle, jacket, giant
4) Almost all words containing OI as in boil, roil, toil, soil, spoil, moisture, hoist
5) All words in which OU stands for long U e.g. soup, tour group, loupe, coupe, coup
6) Words beginning with CH followed by A and also where CH is pronounced TSH e.g, chamber, charm, chant, change, challenge, chateau, champagne
7) Words ending in GUE or QUE or beginning with QU e.g. fatigue, ague, brusque, quarter, question, quality, quantity
8) All words where S and T are mute like debris, bouquet soubriquet, pr'cis
9) Nearly all words ending in ANT or ENT as in agent, merchant, tyrant, tenant, student, indigent, intelligent, mendicant
10) Most polysyllabic words with end stress like campaign, buffoon, elite.

Of Greek origin -
1) PH pronounced as F like phone, phonetic, photo, phylum, physics, phytology, philosophy
2) PS with P silent as in psyllium, psyche, pseudonym
3) CH pronounced K as in Christianity, chorus, chiral, chrysanthemum
4) TH pronounced as in theta e.g. thorax, theology, thermal
5) OE vowel combination or Y as pronounced in lyre e.g. pyorrhea, pyre, Styrofoam, oenophile
6) RH beginning or middle as in Rheumatism, Rheostat, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea

Greek Prefixes -
AMPHI-ANA-A-ANTI-APO-AUTO-DIA-DYS-EX-ENDO-
EPI-EU-HEMI-HETERO-HOMO-HYPER-HYPO-ISO-CATA-META-NEO-
PALEO-PAN-PARA-PERI-POLY-PRO-PROTO-PSEUDO-SYN-SYM

Latin Prefixes -
AB-AD-AMBI-ANTE-BENE-BI-CIRCUM-CONTRA-CON-DE-EX-EXTRA-
IN-INTER-INTRA-NE-NON-PEN-PER-POST-PRE-PRETER-PRO-
RE-RETRO-SEMI-SINE-SUB-SUBTER-SUPER-TRANS-TRI-ULTRA-VICE
Latin Suffixes -
ABLE-ACIOUS-ACY-AGE-ANCE-ANT-ARY-ERY-ORY-ENT-
ESQUE-ESS-ETTE-ION-ITE-IVE-ISE-MENT-MONY-TUDE

There are however situations in linguistic inheritance where words have been common to both Greek and Latin and this is why, I object to the separate, direct descent of these two from the Indo-European mother tongue. To end on a lighter note and to highlight the chutzpah and the ignorance of prior history or preconceived notions on the part of the American inventor, who unwittingly and serendipitously (derived from Sinhal Dweep), first performed recombinant linguistic genetics, I beam my tribute. Did you guess-it is tele from Greek meaning far and vision from Latin. Nobody prior that, had added a Greek prefix to a Latin derived word.   
 

25-Nov-2001
More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD
 
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