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On Wednesday, February 9, 2005, at 09:31 , Henrik Theiling wrote:

> Hi!
>
> Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>> Quoting "Pascal A. Kramm" <[log in to unmask]>:
>> ...
>>> In German, "Kornfeld" also exclusively refers to a field with wheat.
>
> Well, no, in German I'd say that 'Kornfeld' is a field where any type
> of cereals of the kinds barley, wheat, oats or rye is grown.

Yep - if "cornfield" has a different meaning in the north part (field of
oats) from the south part (field of wheat) of our no-so-big island, I
would expect Kornfeld to have even more 'default meanings' throughout such
a large area as the Germanic speaking area of Europe.

> A field
> of rye could be a 'Kornfeld' (generally) as well as a 'Roggenfeld'
> (specifically).

Presumably, the default meaning of Kornfeld will be the dominant cereal
crop of that particular area. Where Pascal lives, I guess it's wheat just
as it is where I live.

>> ...
>>> Here, "korn" is used exclusively for wheat and *never* for maize. The
>>> latter
>>> is always "Mais".

Yep - same here   :)

> 'Korn' is literally 'grain' in German.  It can be used collectively to
> refer to the kinds of cereals mentioned above, and, that's right,
> never to maize (or rice, for instance) when used collectively.

Yes, according to my English dictionary corn can mean "grain, kernel,
small hard seed", i.e. a count noun - but IME this is not common in
current English, except in 'pepper-corn'. But the next meaning is:
"collectively seeds of cereal plants, or the plants themselves - esp. (in
England) wheat, (in Scotland) oats, (in North America) maize"

>  But
> there's also a 'Reiskorn' = a 'grain of rice' or a 'Maiskorn' -- 'a
> grain(?)  of maize/corn'.

We wouldn't say *'rice corn' and 'maize corn' would be understood as a
collective mass noun - just making clear that the corn in question is
maize, not wheat or oats.

A grain of rice or of maize is, well, just a grain of rice or maize   :)

> Anyway, I don't think it helps much to compare German 'Korn' to
> English 'corn' in a thread about English nomenclature.  It's just
> different in German. :-)

There seem to be some similarities & some differences - it's a question of
"compare and contrast" as they used to say in school exam question years
ago  :)

>> FWIW, in Swedish, _korn_ is barley. Barley was the dominant cereal
>> for so long that the original specific name _bjugg_ was simply
>> replaced by the originally general _korn_.

Yep - corn/korn by default is "the dominant cereal crop grown in area X".

> Ah, and was it 'cereal' before that generalisation or was it 'grain'?

I think 'grain' (count noun) was the original meaning, before it became
more commonly used as a mass noun meaning '[commonly grown] cereal'. The
germain word (Gothic _kaurn_) is cognate with Latin _gra:num_.

Although we often also use grain both as a count noun in English (e.g. a
grain of barley, a grain of sand), it is also often used as a mass noun =
corn (harvested, threshed & winnowed). But the Latin _granum_ is always a
count noun.

Ray
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