3 abr. 2010

Etymology: origin of "tonight"

"Tonight" was formed by a process of combining a preposition with another word, which is quite common in English (nowadays, somebody, etc.). Sometimes it was used as two words separately or with a hyphen. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) registers three meaning on this word. “Tonight”, which comes from Old English, originally meant “on the night following this day”; there are records of this use from the year 1000, but a few centuries later, it also came to mean “on this very night”. These two meanings have maintained over time, and they are still used in PDE.

However in the quote, “I dreamt a dream tonight” from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the word seems to have a different meaning for tonight is referring to an event in the past. According to the OED, the word gained another meaning in an early period as well; “On the night just past; last night”. This is the meaning that appears in this quote. This meaning was lost and does not exist in PDE. The last time that was used was in the 18th century. The process which occurred here is also narrowing: over time three meaning ended up being two.

No hay comentarios

© Pablo Camus
Maira Gall