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What should we do with 'em?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:27 pm Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


The dictionary definition for 'em merely states that it is a contraction of 'them', but it doesn't appear to be a true contraction.

It's thought that it's formed not by an elision of the 'th' sound at all, but, in fact, is derived from the Old English heom (the plural accusative and dative form of ('he')) via Middle English hem, whereas 'them' is derived from the Old Norse žeim (the dative form of žeir ('they')), which replaced heom in Old English.

Given that 'em is apparently not derived from 'them', and is even etymologically distinct, is it still correct - as the dictionary claims - to call it a contraction of 'them'?

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What should we do with 'em?
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