Merge and its compounds

English took the verb merge directly from Latin mergere, which meant ‘to plunge,’ and based on the way an object plunging into water “merges” in some sense with the water, the English meaning of merge shifted to ‘combine, unite.’ Spanish lacks a counterpart of the basic Latin verb, but it shares with English the compounds emerger/emerge (with the prefix ex- ‘out of’), sumergir/submerge (with the prefix sub- ‘under’), and inmergir/immerse (with the prefix in- ‘into’). Note that the -s- in English immerse comes from the past participle of mergere, mersus. That -s- appears in the corresponding nouns emersión/emersion, sumersión/submersion, and inmersión/immersion. In addition, English allows noun forms based on the present participle of the Latin verb: emergence, submergence, immergence.

It’s no coincidence that emergence so closely resembles emergencia/emergency, a situation in which something has “emerged” from its normal state to become a crisis. (And if you’d like to join the redundancy police, you may feel free to smite the hand of anyone who writes about, or clamp closed the lips of anyone who speaks about, an emergency situation, because an emergency is by definition a kind of situation. Similarly, we also have a crisis in the use of the redundant phrase crisis situation.)

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 21:34:48

    And then we have “merger”, as in “mergers and acquisitions.”

    The question is, do we need to call the redundancy police on “hostile takeover”?


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Apr 26, 2014 @ 22:08:36

      I don’t know much about business, but I have the impression that sometimes one company wants to be taken over by another because there are advantages in it. If so, then not all takeovers are hostile.

      My latest redundancy targets are the similar phrases could possibly and especially could potentially. The wonderfully concise could means (among other things) ‘has the potential to,’ so there’s no need to tack on potentially. The phrase could potentially has recently become rampant among television news anchors and reporters.


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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