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The origin of abandon and random.


Modern English ban and related lexemes will be shown to have their origin in common with abandon, the latter of disputed etymology. This applies to a still greater extent to random, for the origin of which a plausible solution will be presented. A last paragraph is devoted to the etymology of Modern English PLAN.

1. Introduction

Both abandon and random pose considerable problems as to their origin. In order to propose a convincing hypothesis, we postulate a semantic closeness and, as a following step, a formal relationship between the lexical sets ban n./v.; banish v.; band n.; abandon v., insofar as they go back to Germanic * ban(n), *banjan, *band, *bandwjan, the voiced stop d being lost (in final position) in the subset ban n./v.; banish v., etc.; see in particular the derivation of band n.; see also ban n. and bandon n., the latter two denoting the jurisdiction of a lord or sovereign. Our claim will be illustrated and supported by the following material ending in -an(-) and by a second group ending in -and(-).The case of Modern English PLAN n. illustrates the loss of -t after a nasal consonant.

2. Lexemes ending in -an(-)

ban v. ' forbid, prohibit' (c 1378, BDE)

ME banne(n), formed from OE bannan 'to summon, proclaim' (6th strong class) and AFr banir, baner; banner, bannir 'to proclaim; to summon by ban, to raise (an army); to banish, exclude' ([AND.sup.2]: banir), from Germanic *banjan. Cf. ModFr bannir (DEHF: 66a, 1213 'to proclaim', from Frankish *bannjan, Gothic *bandwjan, ultimately related to bande 'troop', influenced by ban) (BDE: 73b, s.v. ban1; KDEE: 96a, s.v. ban1; ODEE: 7la, s.v. [ban.sup.2]).

ban n. 'edict, proclamation' (c1300, BDE)

ME ban(ne), earlier meaning 'a troop of warriors summoned for proclamation' (c1250); still earlier in the phrase bane cruces 'crosses marking a boundary' (1228), formed from OE (ge)ban(n) 'summons, proclamation' and AFr ban, baan 'proclamation, edict; banishment; jurisdiction; (eccl.) marriage banns' ([AND.sup.2]: [ban.sup.1]), derived from the verb. Cf. ModFr ban (DEHF: 65a, 'proclamation of a lord' end 12th c., from Frankish *ban. Cf. ModG Bann (9th C., [Kluge.sup.24]) from Germanic *banna- 'summons, proclamation, order' (BDE: 74a, s.v. [ban.sup.2]; KDEE: 96a, s.v. [ban.sup.1]; ODEE: 71a, s.v. [ban.sup.1]).

banish v. (c1385, BDE; a1376, KDEE)

ME banyse(n), banysshe(n) 'to condemn, exile', adapted from AFr banir, baner; banner, bannir 'to proclaim; to summon by ban, to raise (an army); to banish, exclude' ([AND.sup.2]: banir), from Germanic *banjan. Cf. ModFr bannir (DEHF: 66a, 1213 'to proclaim', from Frankish *bannjan, Gothic *bandwjan. Ultimately related to bande 'troop', influenced by ban) (BDE: 75a; KDEE: 97a; ODEE: 73a).

banner n. 'flag, standard' (a1200?, BDE)

EME banere, also baner 'troops under a particular banner' (al300?), adapted from AFr baner, banere, baneere, banier, baniere, banire; bannere, banniere 'banner' ([AND.sup.2]: [baner.sup.1]), from ban. Cf. ModFr banniere (DEHF: 66a, 12th c., derived from Frankish *ban, ultimately from Germanic *band(w)-, see Gothic bandwa 'sign'). Cf. Italian bandiera 'banner' and Provencal ban(d)iera (DEI: 425a) and ModG Banner (12th c., [Kluge.sup.24]) from Old French banniere 'flag, banner' (BDE: 75b; KDEE: 97b; ODEE: 73b).

banneret n. (obs.) 'knight entitled to bring vassals into the field under his own banner/standard' (c 1300, KDEE)

ME baneret 'knight' (as defined above), adapted from OFr baneret (14th c.), derived from baner(e) + -et suffix, ultimately from Frankish *ban. Cf. ModFr banneret (DEHF: 65a, s.v. 1. ban, baneret 14th c., from Frankish *ban). See T/L I: 823, s.v. banerez 'little flag' and Godefroy I: 571a, s.v. banerete 'small flag' (BDE: ./.; KDEE: 97b, s.v. [banneret.sup.2]; ODEE: 73b).

banns n. 'notice of marriage' (1549, BDE)

EModE bannes, plural of banne, influenced by MedL bannum 'ban', adapted from MFr banns. Cf. ModFr bans (du marriage) (DEHF: 65a, s.v. 1. ban, end 12th c., les bans du marriage 'notice of marriage', from Frankish *ban) (BDE: 75b; KDEE: 98a; ODEE: 73b).

3. Lexemes ending in -and(-): The case OF abandon

Both BDE (2a, s.v. abandon) and ODEE (2a, s.v. [abandon.sup.1]) seem to follow the major French etymological dictionaries, e.g. Gamillscheg, [EWFS.sup.2]: 1b, s.v. abandon 'the state of being utterly forsaken', which quote ban as an etymological constituent of abandon. Gamillscheg, 1.c., derives the lexeme from unattested OFr a ban doner 'to put to someone's disposal', see also OFr doner a bandon of the same meaning; cf. LL bannum 'proclamation of the lord imposing his authority' (8th c.). Bloch and [Wartburg.sup.6]:la, s.v. abandon, derive OFr bandon 'power, authority, permission' from OFr ban (< Frankish *ban), which also presupposes a phrase of the type a ban doner. The phrase (mettre) a bandon 'to put to someone's disposal, to hand over' is supposed to have yielded abandon by agglutination in the course of the 12th c. (TLF: 38a, s.v. abandon). However, all reference works quoted keep silent about the origin of bandon. Thus, these phrases may have had at most a secondary bearing on the origin of the lexeme under scrutiny. Although OFr ban, its derivation banon, and Late Latin bannum 'power, authority' on the one hand, and OFr bandon on the other hand, derive from different roots, they have largely become synomymous in Old French. French etymological research assumes a blend of the roots ban- (Frankish *bannjan, yielding OFr bannir) and band- (Frankish *bandjan 'to give a sign'). There is MedL bandum/bannum, i.e. 'ban' and bandire/bannire, i.e. 'to proclaim' (see TLF: 38a, s.v. abandon).

Unlike randon and randonner, which remain restricted to the Gallo-Romania, abandon and abandoner are found further afield, e.g. It abbandono and abbandonare (DEI I: 4a), Sp abandono and abandonar (Corominas--Pascual I: 6b).

As with random (q.v.), there seems to be a kind of gap in the semantic development from a bandon 'under one's jurisdiction, at one's mercy'--see also [OED.sup.2], s.v. bandon/bandoun n. (obs.)--to ME abandonen 'to give up, surrender, leave' which also holds for the source language. This change in meaning has remained unexplained by the editors of the current English and French etymological dictionaries. The assumption of a- as a negative prefix, which is to contrast bandoun 'dominion, control' and abandoun 'abandonment; surrender' may be mere speculation, since bandoun can be interpreted as an aphetic variant of abandoun. See ModG verbannen 'to banish': The sovereign lord might as well banish/send into exile those under his jurisdiction. If at all, the prefix a- may have intensified the meaning of the verb as in ME risen and arisen (< OE risan and arisan).

The semantic change under examination may have occurred both in the source language (French) and in the borrowing language (English) as will be demonstrated below. Although we assume the verbs banduner, baundoner and abanduner, abaundoner to have been derived from the nouns bandun, baundon and abandun, abaundon respectively (and not vice versa), the change in question can best be demonstrated with the verbs: (1) 'to hand over, to place at the disposal/under the authority or power of' (bandun, baundon); (2) refl. 'to give oneself over, surrender, leave' (+ indirect object); (3) 'to forsake/banish , to leave someone to one's fate/unprotected' (+ direct object). We postulate a formal and semantic relationship between the lexical sets BAN n./v. (see OE bannan 'to summon, proclaim'); BANISH v.; BAND n.; ABANDON v., insofar as they go back to Germanic *ban(n), *bannjan, *band, *bandwjan, the voiced stop d being lost (in final position) in the subset BAN n./v.; BANISH v.; see in particular the derivation of BAND n.; both BAN n. and BANDON n. denoting the jurisdiction of a lord or sovereign. See -and ~ -an as in AFr espandre, etc., alternating with espanir ([AND.sup.2]: espanir), the former underlying ModE EXPAND v. and SPAWN v. respectively (see Diensberg 2008: 40-41).

abandon v. (1390, BDE)

ME abandone(n) 'to give up or surrender', adapted from AFr abanduner, abando(u)ner, abaundoner, -uner 'to hand over, to place at the disposal of; to give oneself over, surrender, leave' ([AND.sup.2]: abanduner), cf. OFr abandoner (T/L I: 38). There are also forms without the prefix a: AFr banduner, baundoner 'to submit to, give oneself over to' ([AND.sup.2]: banduner). The verb may have been derived from the Old French phrase a bandon 'under one's jurisdiction, at one's mercy', derived from Germanic *band 'jurisdiction' (DEHF: la), unrelated to band 'fetter', cf. ModG Band (8th c., [Kluge.sup.24]) and ModE band ([OED.sup.2], s.v. [BAND n..sup.1]), but related to the source of BAN [n..sup.2] 'edict'. Cf. ModFr abandoner (DEHF: la, s.v. abandon, 1080) (BDE: 2a; KDEE: 2a, s.v. [abandon.sup.1]; ODEE: 2a, s.v. [abandon.sup.1]).

abandon n. 'freedom from restraint' (1850, BDE; 1822, KDEE)

Already attested with the original meaning as ME abandoun 'control' (a1400?/a1425), also abaundon (a1425?/a1500), adapted from AFr abandon, abandonn, abandoun; abaundun 'abandonment; surrender' ([AND.sup.2]: abandon), derived from the verb AFr abanduner, abando(u)ner 'to hand over, etc.' ([AND.sup.2]: abanduner). Cf. ModFr abandon (DEHF: 1a, 1165; TLF 1: 38a) (BDE: 2a; KDEE: 2a, s.v. abandon 2; ODEE: 2a, s.v. [abandon.sup.1]).

band n. 'group of individuals acting together' (1490, BDE)

ME bande, adapted from AFr bande 'band, troop' ([AND.sup.2]: [bande.sup.1]) ultimately from Frankish *band(w)a (see below). Cf. ModFr bande (DEHF: 65b, s.v. 2. bande 'troop' 1360), influenced by It banda (DEI: 424a, s.v. [bande.sup.3]), both lexemes ultimately going back to Germanic (Frankish) *banda, see Gothic bandwa 'flag, standard', i.e. a group of followers/soldiers under the banner of a sovereign. See also cognate ModG [Bande.sup.1] (from French, 16th c., [Kluge.sup.24]) (BDE: 74a, s.v. banal; KDEE: 96b, s.v. [band.sup.2]; ODEE: 72a, s.v. [band.sup.3]).

bandon n. obs. (a1200?, MED)

EME bandun 'power', ME bandon, bandoun 'jurisdiction, authority, control; power of disposal, full discretion, or authority to deal with'. Either aphetic variant of ABANDON n., or directly adapted from AFr bandun, bandon; baundon, baundoun, baundun n. sg. & pl. 'jurisdiction, territory' ([AND.sup.2]: bandun), see OFr bandon 'control' (T/L I: 821) and bandon 'control' : randon 'impetuosity' in rhyme (T/L I: 822).

bandon v. obs. (a1400/a1325, MED)

ME bandun(en) refl. 'to give oneself up' (hap.leg.); 'to have under control, subdue; to give oneself up; to forsake; to banish' ([OED.sup.2]). Either aphetic variant of ABANDON v., or directly adapted from AFr banduner, baundoner v. refl. 'to submit to, give oneself over to' ([AND.sup.2]: banduner), ultimately derived from Germanic ban(d)(w)-; see BAN n., etc. & Remarks (NB).

expand v. (1422, BDE)

ME espaunde(n), expande(n) 'to spread out', adapted from AFr espandre, espander, espandier, espandir; espaunder, espaundre, esspaundre 'to shed; to spill; to pour down; (fig.) to pour; to scatter, spread; to disperse, scatter; to spread out, extend' ([AND.sup.2]: espandre); see MFr espandre (Greimas--Keane: 258a). See also AFr espanir, etc. 'to extend, etc.' ([AND.sup.2]: espanir) had no influence whatsoever on the English verb. Cf. ModFr epandre (DEHF: 259a, espandre, 1080). See also related SPAWN n./v.; for the change -and > -an, see Diensberg (2008: 40-41) (BDE: 356a; KDEE: 464b; ODEE: 336b).

4. Lexemes ending in -and(-): The case OF random

Modern English meaning of random arose through the gradual loss of the features SPEED, IMPETUOSITY; cf. AFr a randun, al randun, de randun 'at speed, in haste' and 'in rapid succession one after another' ([AND.sup.1]: randun), meanings and usages still common before c1650, which in due course were replaced by HAPHAZARDNESS/CHANCE during the 16th century (see [OED.sup.3], s.v.3.a: 1565 in the phrase at random). There is no indication of a gradual transition: this semantic change seems to have occurred spontaneously, the features SPEED, IMPETUOSITY going out and HAPHAZARDNESS/CHANCE coming in.

[OED.sup.3]: RANDOM, n., adv., and adj. PHRASES

P2. 'at random, without direction or purpose, haphazardly' Originally with suggestion of great speed or lack of consideration, care, or control (from Phrases 1); later without implication of speed or violence, a. 'haphazardly, without aim, purpose, or fixed principle; heedlessly, carelessly; (also) erratically, indiscriminately, unsystematically'. Cf. sense C. la. In early use with verbs of action, as moving, striking, throwing, talking, etc., esp. in to run at random (very common before c1650); later also with verbs of occurrence.

All major English etymological dictionaries propose a so-called Frankish root *rant which is related to ModG rennen 'to run', rannte p.t. 'ran', from West Germanic *rannjan, from Germanic *rann-eja (see [Kluge.sup.24], s.v. rennen) as the origin of the root *rand-/*rant- which underlies OFr randon 'violent movement' and randonner 'to run, hasten', cognate with randir 'to run fast'. There is *rant 'a running' (corresponding to a modern dialectal/Northern Bavaria rant 'a running') and *rand 'a running' (FEW 16: 661a). ModG Brand 'a fire' (MHG brant), from Germanic *branda-, may be quoted as a useful parallel since it goes back to brennen 'to burn', from Germanic *brenn-a- ([Kluge.sup.24], s.v. Brand & brennen; cf. [EWFS.sup.2]: 748b, s.v. randon).

On semantic grounds we reject Gamillscheg, [EWFS.sup.2]: 748a, s.v. randon 'impetuous movement', who suggests Frankish (West Germanic) *rando 'edge (as of a shield)', related to OE rand 'shield', ModE rand 'border, brink' ([OED.sup.3], s.v. rand [n..sup.1]) as the most probable etymon.

Apart from formal similarity, both abandon, bandon and random show the root *-and, *-aund and the -on ~ -om alternation (see late ME bandom 'power, control'), there is a semantic overlap as evidenced by AFr bandun/bandoun adv. 'unrestrainedly; completely; in abundance; vigorously; violently' ([AND.sup.2]: bandun); the two lexemes may well have influenced each other. Furthermore, ABANDON, BANDON are related to BAN, BANNER and BAND which amply testify to the alternation -an(n) ~ -and. Thus, original *ran(n)- may well generate analogical *rand- or even *rant-.

random n., adj. & adv. 'by chance and with no plan' (adj. 1655, BDE)

EME randun 'impetuosity, speed, force, violence' (c1300), late ME random (a1470), from AFr randun, randon, raundoun; raundun, raundoun 'speed'; a, al randun 'in haste'; de randun 'at speed, in rapid succession, one after the other'; a, en un(e) randun 'in rapid succession, one after another' ([AND.sup.1]: randun) and the verb randuner, randoner; raunduner; rendoner 'to move swiftly' ([AND.sup.1]: randuner), see OFr randon 'haste' (T/L VIII: 272) and randoner 'to hasten' (T/L VIII: 278). Cf. ModFr randonnee 'swift course' (DEHF: 647a, 1131, derived from the verb randonner) & randonner 'to move quickly' (DEHF: 647a, s.v. randonnee, 1155; TLF 14: 345a, s.v. randonner 'to run, hasten'). Romance *randon was derived from the West Germanic/Frankish roots *rand and *rant 'a running', related to ModG rennen, from West Germanic *rannjan, from Germanic *ranjan. See [OED.sup.3], s.v. RANDOM n., etc.: (a. OF. randon, rendon, etc.), from randir 'to run fast, gallop' (T/L VIII: 271). For the -n ~ -m alternation in weakly-stressed syllables, see also late ME bandom and ransom ([OED.sup.3], s.v. RANDOM n., etc.); see also random adj./adv, and ransom n./v.; transom n.; venom(ous) n.(adj.). The change of final -n to -m is independent from the very rare Old French form random (BDE: 884b; KDEE: 1149b; ODEE: 738b).

[OED.sup.3]: RANDOM, v. rare (1508)

Forms: 16 randome, 16 randon, 18- random; also Sc. pre-17 randon < RANDOM n.

With sense 1 perhaps compare Anglo-Norman and Middle French randoner, randuner, etc., 'to move swiftly' (al 174 in Old French; French randonner, now apparently only in senses '(of an animal in hunting) to make a circuit around the area where it has been released' (1875), 'to go for a hike' (1896); < randon RANDOM n.). Compare Old Occitan randonar 'to dash forward'. 1) intr. Perh.: 'to flow swiftly' (1508). Obs.; 2) intr. a. 'To stray, wander aimlessly; (also) to charge unheedingly, to rush headlong'. Also fig. (1561); b. 'To fly at random. Obs. (1602?); c. colloq. To do something at random' (1921); 3) intr. Eng. regional (Yorks.). 'To run parallel or in a straight line'. Cf. RANDOM n. 1. Obs. (1824).

5. The case of Modern English PLAN n., loss of-t after a nasal consonant

plan n. 'a design, a proposal' (1635, [OED.sup.3])

Originally attested in Middle French as plant (1545) and plan (1547), denoting a drawing made by projection on a horizontal plane showing the layout of a building, city, etc., attested in English as plant (1538) and plan (1563), denoting a drawing guiding the establishment of a building, city, etc., modelled on Italian pianta 'design of a building/town, etc.' (16th c., DEI: 2894b, s.v. pianta3, derived from pianta2 'sole of the foot', corresponding to PLANT n.2 (q.v.). In fact, MFr plant 'design' goes back to figurative use of plante (du pied) 'sole of the foot', which in turn was influenced by the Italian lexeme. The loss or rather assimilation of final t occurs quite frequently in the source language (see Diensberg 2008: 42-47). It is also attested in Early Modern English as evidenced by the spellings plant (1538) and plan (1563). Any influence of homonymous French plan n.2 'flat surface' (TLF 13: 485b, from L planum), see ModFr plan n.3, is at most secondary. In France, spellings such as plant co-occurring with plan, are attested for the 15th-17th centuries (TLF 13: 487b, s.v. plan n.3). In fact, a derivation from plante (du pied) 'sole of the foot' (DEHF 287b, s.v. 1. plante, 1190, from L planta) and ultimately from the verb planter (see DEHF 288a, 12th c., from L plantare) has much to recommend itself, while influence from Italian pianta should not be excluded.

Thus, the current etymological dictionaries miss an important stage in the development of the English lexeme by exclusively focussing on MFr plan 'plane surface, ground plan, map'. The etymological section of plan n. ([OED.sup.3]) could be supplemented by establishing a link between PLAN n. and PLANT [n..sup.2]. Cf. ModFr plan (DEHF: 587a, s.v. 2. plan, 1545, earlier spelling plant end 15th c.; to postulate influence of plan 'flat surface' (DEHF: 587a, s.v. 1. plan, 1553, is not absolutely necessary; thus TLF 13: 489a); cf. ModFr plante (du pied) (DEHF: 587b, s.v. 1. plante, 1190; TLF 13: 503b, s.v. [plante.sup.1]). Alternatively, ModFr plant 'young shoot', masculine noun (TLF 13:502), derived from the verb planter (TLF 13: 505a), used figuratively, may be at the origin of MFr plant (see above). A French syntagma of the type un plant de ville 'a plan of a city' may have triggered the loss of final t, ultimately due to sentence phonetics with ensuing assimilation (BDE: 801b; KDEE: 1075b; ODEE: 868a).

6. Conclusion

We hope to have shown that, in the course of their development, the lexical sets ban v., banish v. and band n. on the one hand, and bandon v. (now obsolete) and abandon v. on the other hand, influenced each other both formally and semantically. Abandon v., of notoriously difficult etymology, is best accounted for as originating from the phrase a bandon 'at one's mercy/at one's disposal'. As a verb, derived from a bandon, it developed from the original meaning 'be/have under control/at one's disposal' to 'betake oneself under the authority/control' to 'give oneself/someone up' (indirect object) to 'forsake, banish; leave someone to one's late' (direct object), thus making up the sememes of ModE abandon.

As to the semantic aspect, ModE abandon 'to leave, give up' (NODE) has shed all sememes denoting control or authority (see ME abandonen & bandonen), as well as yielding or submitting to an authority. There is still a related sememe 'to indulge in (desire or impulse)', which closely corresponds to earlier 'to yield without restraint (to vice)' (c1390, MED).

The Germanic root *banal(w)-, as found in band n. 'a group', received a Gallo-Romance suffix -one(m), whence OF abandoner, the a-prefix reinforcing the meaning of the simplex bandoner. This aspect of the origin of abandon is not dealt with by the editors of the major etymological and historical reference works. Not infrequent loss of-d in final position, i.e. *band- > *ban-, would have brought about formal identity of the words derived from both roots.

The adverb random, another notorious case of difficult etymology, is best derived from a Germanic root *ran- (as found in Germanic *ranneja to run), which, apart from ModG rannte p.t. of rennen 'to run', is attested in dialectal rant 'a running', from which an unattested variant *rand- may be postulated. As in the case OFr abandon, a Gallo-Romance suffix -one(m) was attached to the stem. Thus, *rand-on- yielded OFr randoner and ultimately deverbal randon, leading to modern English abandon.

The current etymological dictionaries miss an important stage in the development of Modern English plan n. by exclusively focussing on MFr plan 'plane surface, ground plan, map'. Thus, the etymological section of plan n. ([OED.sup.3]) could be supplemented by introducing a link between PLAN n. and PLANT n.2.

doi: 10.2478/v10121-009-0025-2


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Publication:Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies
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Date:Jan 1, 2010
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