Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dear Hunting - New York Times:

One mission of On Language is to call attention to subtle changes in common usage that offer linguistic clues to vast cultural change. Today we deal with the threatened abandonment of the symbolic embrace inherent in an old Teutonic word. Dear was born about a thousand years ago, meaning “honorable, worthy,” and took on the sense of “esteemed, valued” and ultimately “beloved,” gaining a sense of “high-priced” along the way. As a form of address in written communications, the O.E.D.’s citations progress from the 1250 “Fader dere” to the 1314 “Mi dere frende” to the 1340 “Dere god” to the 1489 “Dere syre.”