Hannu Tommola Hannu.Tommola at UTA.FI
Sun Feb 14 10:22:58 UTC 2010

Dear Nigel and all,

as was already pointed out, there is this polysemy in Russian, too;  
though not in all Slavic, cf. Czech:

1) _dlůžen_ (adjective like in Russian) 'owe' vs. 2) _musit_ 'have to,  
ought to, must'

Russ. _dolg_, Cze. _dluh_ 'debt' is related with Gothic _dulgs_

In Ulfilas Gothic we find the compound _dulgis skula_ 'debtor' (Grm.  
Schuldner)with the adjective _skula_ from the verb _skulan_ which had  
both meanings: 1) 'owe' (schuldig sein) and 2) 'have to' (sollen,  
müssen) - with modal and temporal uses.

The connection between the meanings is obvious also in languages where  
the polysemy is not overtly lexical, cf.

1) _vara skyldig_ or _stå i skuld_ 'owe' vs. 2) _måste_ 'must'
Estonian (there is similar difference in Finnish):
1) _võlgu olema_ 'owe' vs. 2) _pidama_ 'must'

but observe the idiom (probably borrowed from language to language...)  
where the expression 'to owe' is clearly used in the meaning '(you)  
have to (give me an explanation)':

Swd. _du är skyldig mig en förklaring_
Est. _sa võlgned mulle seletuse_
Finn. _olet minulle selityksen velkaa_
'you owe me an explanation'

Hannu Tommola

Quoting Nigel Vincent <nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK>:

> In many of the Romance languages the same verb means both 'owe' and  
> 'must' (cf Italian debere, French devoir, Portuguese dever, etc). In  
> English 'ought' is etymologically the past tense of 'owe'. I would  
> be grateful for further instances of languages in which, either  
> synchronically or diachronically, the same verb covers both the  
> modal and the 'owe' meanings.
> Nigel Vincent
Hannu Tommola, Professor of Russian Language (Translation Theory and Practice)
School of Modern Languages and Translation Studies
FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Phone: +358-(0)3-3551 6102

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