I don't grasp this Reddit comment.

An example of (3) might be this (from a 15th-century will):

I now the seid John Smyth, for diu[er]se causez and consyderacyonys shevyd vnto me, will ordeyne and declare ...

Here, "consideration" means "something to be considered, a reason". The semantic sense has shifted from the act of considering to the thing considered. A parallel might be the word "obligation", where the shift is from the act of obliging, to the thing one is obliged to do.

These semantic shifts are too apart, far-reaching, far-fetched for me to grasp! To the common Anglophone, "the act of considering" plainly differs from "the thing considered". For instance, rational humans perform "the act of considering", while "the thing considered" is an inanimate valuable object like money.

How can I interpret these semantic shifts so they feel natural, intutitive common sense? How can these semantic shifts be bridged?

  • @Xanne Not a duplicate. This question applies to obligation too. – Chrome Sep 17 '19 at 7:01
  • Some cases might be accounted for by the loss of morphology since Old English. -an/-en was an infinitive, deverbal noun marker (equivalently to run, the run, cp Ger rennen). This would easily transfere to -on I suppose. -ing fell together from different though related forms, -ung, -ing, -inga, too. This can be seen perhaps in threat, to threaten, threat-en-ing (Ger "Drohung", "drohen", but "be-droh-lich"); I fail to come up with an example that shows ambiguity and has corresponding German forms (that is swimming is my favourite is "Schwimmen …" but there is no "Schwimmung") – vectory Sep 18 '19 at 0:33

You are asking a question about the semantics of 15th-century legal English, and comparing it with your understanding of today’s English. It is fair to say that the explanation was not of the best.

Put simply, one common way of forming a noun from a verb derived from Latin is to add ‘*-ation *’ or ’-ition ‘ to the end. The resultant noun is used to refer to the doing of the the thing or the thing being done,. These two phrases are equivalent. The noun itself is neither active nor passive.

So a ‘consideration’ (apparently in the C15) was used (at least in a legal context) to refer to an outcome of an act of someone considering/something being considered: a reason. A possible course of action may have some considerations in its favour and others against it.

So, for example, The noun position is neither active nor passive. The position of the North Pole or Time Square has nothing to do with anybody putting them there. An exhibition involves both one or more exhibitors and some exhibitees, but an exhibition is the event - the show itself.

To consider is to reason or think. The derived noun spreads out widely.

A price/payment/bribe; thoughtfulness (what we do when we are considerate); something to ce taken into account (in deciding to agree to be married, one consideration might be compatibility of interests, another might the wealth or poverty of the partner concerned, etc...;

These are example. You can say that ‘consideration is both active and passive.

The considération of both sides of a dispute by a judge is the essence of justice.

The ‘of’ here seems to be trying to make ‘both sides’ the object of an underlying active verb, but the ‘by’ brings with it the flavour of passive. But the two adverbial prepositional phrases modify not a verb but a noun.

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