New use of "unless"?

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Jan 23 17:09:23 UTC 2001

At 11:25 AM 1/23/01 -0500, you wrote:
>At 11:10 AM 1/23/2001 -0500, Beverly Olson Flanigan wrote:
> >[re "unlest"]: I would assume the /t/ is added as liaison with the following
> >vowel, as in "acrosst", "oncet", "twicet," etc.--common in much of the
> Midland.
> >
> >But I suppose "lest" alone (re: Salovesh) is derived from "unless" too,
> >which suggests the usage of both has a long history.
> >
>OED2 traces "lest" to an OE phrase that contains the ancestor of "less," and
>traces "unless" to a ME phrase containing "less" that looks as if it
>collapsed into a single word during the 15th century. So, "lest" and
>"unless" are, strictly speaking, cousins rather than parent/child.
>OED2 has entries for "unlest" and "unleast." All citations seems to be from
>the 16th century, so the phenomenon of speakers fusing unless/unle(a)st/lest
>is probably not new, and may well have persisted for centuries in the spoken
>rather than the formal written language.
>Greg Downing, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

Oops!  Thanks to you and Larry for pointing this out--I was shooting from
the hip, obviously.

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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