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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2016-01-31 13:19:14

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2641

strum in instrumental

Anyone who knows the broader meaning of “instrument” (= that by which something is accomplished) will understand that “instrument” (= device for making music) is an extension of the broader sense. The broader sense is a sound and meaning adaption of a Latin word for “fit/equip.”

It popped into my mind last night that some English speakers may hear “strum” in “instrument.” Perhaps they think that “instrument,” as in “musical instrument,” is a generalization from a stringed instrument?

Many North Americans pronounce “instrument” as “IN-ster-ment.” Whatever negative remarks one can make about the trend, one positive aspect is that it removes the temptation to conflate “strum” and “instrument.”

“Instrument” may not have come from “strum,” but “strum” may have some dependency on “instrument.” “Thrum,” a word of probable onomatopoetic origin used to describe the sound of a stringed instrument, has been around since the late Renaissance.”Thrum” was only turned into “strum” in the eighteenth century. One wonders if “thrUMming on an inStrument” may have induced speakers to hear the sound “strum” in the strings rather than “thrum.”

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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