Saturday, December 17, 2011


Last lesson, 日本語の先生 and I thought about the origins of "to drive" in English. Before cars, it had the sense of "to make someone or something do something" (人に何にかをさせること?), especially when otherwise that someone might do something else—eg, to drive cattle (making them run in the desired direction), a "slave-driver". The image that comes to mind is of cracking a whip. I guess the verb took on a vehicular sense when wagons were "driven" by horses or oxen, which in turn were "driven" by the driver. Then came "horseless carriages", whose engines were driven by drivers. Makes me wonder why trains are driven by "conductors"; I guess in that case (since the train is on tracks and can't really go anywhere you don't want it to) the sense is of a person who organizes things (as in orchestrating an orchestra), rather than strictly "driving". 面白いね、表現は。

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