Post-“Post-post post” post

The last post, entitled “Post-post post,” concluded with the statement that the first post in that title is an English use of the Latin preposition post that meant ‘after’ and that evolved in Spanish to pos. English uses post as a prefix in many compounds, e.g. postwar, postmodern, postcolonial, postracial. Spanish does the same thing with the cognate pos in compounds like those given as examples in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española: posbélico, posponer, postónico. The dictionary goes on to note that “A veces conserva la forma latina post-,” and it gives as examples postdorsal and postfijo (which also exists in the form posfijo, and in either spelling means the same as the less etymologically correct sufijo ‘suffix,’ because a suffix comes after a part of a word and not sub ‘under’ it). As an independent word, Spanish pos is archaic, having been replaced by después and detrás. Nevertheless, pos survives as a separate word in the fixed phrase en pos de, which means ‘behind.’

The previous post also mentioned that the recently borrowed Spanish post that in fact means ‘a blog post’ is a doublet of the poste that means ‘a [wooden] post.’ It turn out that Spanish pos also has a doublet: the much more common pues, which, like pos, developed from Latin post ‘after.’ Semantically, if B follows A, it’s often the case that B was caused by A; as a result, the original sense of ‘after’ shifted in pos to ‘then’ and ‘therefore.’ From those came the additional meanings ‘so; as; of course; well, there you have it.’

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 13:16:20

    If I’m not going to fall behind, I need to get off my posterior and stop postponing my own post about posts!

    (OK – That one wore me out!)


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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