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On 4/19/06, caeruleancentaur <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> What exactly is the etymology of the German "je...desto..."?

Seems to be interesting (as is, no doubt, often the case with function
words). I'm off to work soon, so can't elaborate, but the brief answer
is apparently:

"je" is a fossilised inflected form of a noun meaning something like
"time, period, age";
"desto" is from "des diu" (genitive of the definite article +
instrumental of the definite article).

More (hopefully) later.

(Incidentally, you can also use "um so" in the second: "je mehr Eis er
isst, um so dicker wird er" = "the more ice cream he eats, the fatter
he becomes".)

Cheers,
--
Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>