Being Politely Surprised

12 03 2007

Here’s an idea. Several interjections in English exist in a form designed to prevent one from actually uttering an offensive or otherwise improper term. For example, “God!” becomes “Gosh!”, “Christ!” becomes “Cripes!” or “Crikey!”, and “Jesus!” becomes “Gee!” or “Geez!”. It doesn’t take much imagination to determine the origin of “Shivers!”, or even (perhaps) “For crying out loud!”. How about “Oh my!”? Is it an abbreviated form of “Oh my God!”? Or, perhaps, is it a calque of the Greek “οι ͑μοι”? Hmm.


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3 responses

14 03 2007
Joel Nothman

Do you really mean a calque?

14 03 2007
Simon Holloway

Oh, the tribulations of never having studied linguistics!
Isn’t a calque the phenomenon whereby a word is adopted from another language, but remodified as though it belonged to the adopting language?

18 03 2007
Conrad

A calque is the translation of an idiom, eg. ‘Deus Omnipotens’ becomes ‘God Almighty’, even though ‘Almighty’ would not be natively constructed in English from ‘all’ and ‘mighty’. I think ‘oh my’ is certainly an abbreviation of ‘oh my God’.

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