6

Regarding the pronoun "your", ignoring the singular possessive form.

Is there some significance to the "prefix" y or is this a coincidence?

Our: Collective possession, including me.
Y our: Collective possession, excluding me.

I'm not sure if I had an epiphany or a burnout academic experience.

  • I'm afraid I don't completely understand your question. Is what a coincidence? The fact that "your" contains "our"? – Kaiser Octavius Sep 23 '13 at 3:51
  • Pretty much, coupled with the similar but contralateral meanings. I'm fully aware of how ridiculous the question sounds. – Rusty Sep 23 '13 at 3:59
  • Think of it this way: Defenestrate means to throw something out of the window. De - "removal/separation from", fenestra - "window". In this sense, I'm wondering if: our - collective possession, ~y~ - "Excluding me". – Rusty Sep 23 '13 at 4:05
  • 2
    Looking at the entries for "your" and "our" on etymonline.com, this similarity doesn't appear in their Old English forms or their reconstructed Proto-Germanic and PIE roots. "Your" was eower in Old English, with the PIE root *ju, whereas "our" was, among lots of other regional forms, ure in Old English, with the PIE root *nes-. – Kaiser Octavius Sep 23 '13 at 4:12
  • I'm not vastly familiar with word roots (my knowledge of PIE is limited to my recent wiki search). Are you suggesting that the two words have different roots and the similarity is completely coincidental? – Rusty Sep 23 '13 at 4:39
8

Looking them up in the Oxford Dictionary of English Language, your comes from Old English ēower, related to the genitive of “gē.” It states that it's of Germanic origin and is related to German euer.

While our comes from ūre, which is also of Germanic origin but is related to English us and German unser.

This should be proof enough that the two are not related and the similarity is some sort of coincidence.

  • The concrete lexemes may be traceable to distinct ancestors, but that doesn't mean that the similarity is completely accidental. A process may well be psychologically more probable if it ends in a state that seems as if corresponding items were related, even if linguistic inquiry can prove that they are not. The question "Why is this particular word the way it is" usually has an answer mixed from historical contingency and psychological plausibility. – Kilian Foth Sep 23 '13 at 8:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.