Notes on the Vibe Shift

Justin E. H. Smith in his Substack newsletter, The Hinternet:

Living as I do, mostly by choice, in a post-Babel cacophony of languages, I find I often discern meanings that are not really there. This is particularly easy to do in the contact zones of the former Angevin Empire, where more than a millennium’s worth of cross-hybridity between English and French has brought it about that this empire’s ruins are populated principally by faux amis, so that one must not so much learn new words, as reconceive words one already knows. Thus deception becomes disappointment, to assist is not to help but only to be present, to report is to postpone, to defend is to prohibit (sometimes), to verbalise is to fine, to sense is to smell, to mount is to get in, to descend is to get out, a location is a rental, ice-cream has a perfume instead of a flavor, and so on.

The gentle shift one has to make to reconcile all these false friends occurs not only at the lexical level, but also in morphology and phonology, and once it takes place one starts to discern the likenesses of outre-Manche cousins that previously remained hidden: thus Guillaume is the cousin of William, and gardien of warden, and guichet of wicket, and guerre of war.

More here.