by Margaret Magnus
all rights reserved
Margo's Magical Letter Page
There is a longstanding discussion in the linguistics literature regarding whether a word has one meaning or several. In my view, the answer is that it has both. On the level of sound, it has one meaning. On the level of reference, it has many. I believe the single underlying sound meaning of a word to be much narrower than I have seen postulated anywhere in the linguistics literature. That is, I think made-up words like 'pruff' or 'chole' already have a very narrow meaning before they are ever used for anything. I thought on way to exemplify this would be to go through every meaning of some very common word, and show that each of its senses can be analyzed as a fairly narrow basic underlying sound-meaning included into some semantic class and applied in a specific context. The English word 'take' occupies 19 pages in the Oxford English Dictionary! That is more than I have stamina for just now, so I'm going to limit myself to the 3/4 page entry in The American Heritage Dictionary, published (as you probably are aware) by the Houghton Mifflin company. Neither of these dictionaries claims that there are many different words 'take' - only one. Still, it's hard to see how one and the same verb can be used in so many and incredibly varied contexts: 'take up dinner', 'take off in an airplane', 'take scissors to his hair'. Still English speakers clearly do think of this 'take' as the same verb as 'take candy from a baby'. Not surprisingly, these different senses of the one word 'take' are translated into very different words in nearly any language you care to pick. In other words, other languages do not see all those senses as the same word. I submit that English sees all these various senses of 'take' as one and the same word, because in English, they sound the same. The /t/ followed by the /ej/ followed by the /k/ has a meaning which froms the substrate which hold all these senses together, and make of them one English word.
'Take' starts with a /t/ - directedness toward a goal without specification as to whether that goal is reached - and ends with /k/. /k/ is a container that catches and holds, and that cruelly cuts the upper class insiders off from the lower class outsiders. Our task is to show that this dynamic - toward->capture/cut off - underlies every sense of 'take' and makes 'take' distinct from its synonyms which are pronounced differently.
take v. took, taken, taking, takes - tr.
1. To get into one's possession by force, skill or artifice especially. a. To capture physically, seize: take an enemy fortress. b. To kill, snare or trap (fish or game, for example). c. To acquire in a game or competition: take your opponent's queen. d. To seize authoritatively, confiscate. e. To catch (a ball in play) in certain sports: he took it at second.
The basic sense of 'take' is different from the stealing verbs like 'swipe', 'purloin', 'rob',... in that when you 'take' something, you're not breaking the law. You're not actually cheating. It's also different from words like 'accept', 'receive', 'get', etc. in that the taker has the initiative. The object was not given to him. There is no giver. Furthermore, 'take' is different from a verb like 'pick up', 'collect',... in that the thing 'taken' doesn't really want to go with the person who takes it. If we say, 'Arthur took the pencil sharpener,' the implication is that someone else wanted to use it. If we say, 'Arthur picked up the pencil sharpener,' there is no such implication. Why do you need this 'force, skill and artifice'? Because the object taken doesn't want to go with you. It 'tends' somewhere else. There's a conflict implicit in 'take', between where the object actually goes and where it wants to go. The conflict is between the /t/ and the /k/. The /t/ says, "I wanna go there! I wanna go there!" And the /k/ says, "No way, buddy! Gotcha!" You see a similar dynamic in 'tack' and 'tuck'.
2. To grasp with the hands; to grip:
take your partner's hand.
Here 'take' is different from 'hold' in that it is the start of something. That is caused by the directedness in the /t/. The synonyms proposed in the dictionary definition - 'grasp' and 'grip' - are neutral with respect to this initiation. 'I gripped his hand' can mean either that I just now took his hand, or that I've been holding it for some time. 'Take' is not neutral in this respect. The /t/ also implies, as 'grasp' and 'grip' do not, that the act of 'taking' is leading somewhere. Perhaps it is a dance step; perhaps you are leading a child across the street; perhaps (we hope) it is the beginning of a romance. A dance in which you 'grip your partner's hand' is rather a desperate and comical dance. That's because /g/ is grabby. And the purpose of this directedness of 'taking' someone's hand is /k/ - the punch line - a capture or safe arrival at some point.
3. To be affected with; come down
with; contract: He took cold.
This conflict mentioned above between the 'tendency' of /t/ and the 'capture' or 'connection' of /k/ - which accounts for the 'force, skill and artifice' in the first definition - is implicit in virtually every other sense of 'take' as well. When you 'take cold', you don't want the cold. You tend toward health, and then are captured in the last minute by a baddie. Alternatively, you can say, 'he caught a cold', inverting the /t/ and /k/. You still get that /t/-/k/ conflict, but the capture and tendency are inverted. You can perhaps see that in 'he took cold' the directedness is primary and the viral invasion secondary by thinking about the contexts it is used in. At least to my ear, you tend to use 'he took cold' when the illness interferes with some projected plan or at least I sense a linear motion though time in 'I took cold'.
4. To encounter or to catch in a particular
situation; come upon, discover: They'll never take her unawares.
Once again, if you compare 'take' in this context with the proposed synonyms 'come upon' and 'discover', you can see the /t/-/k/ conflict. When you 'take' someone, she tends somewhere else. She doesn't want to be come upon or discovered. You can say, "I came upon, discovered a rock." You can't say, "I took a rock." (In the act very act of what?, one wonders.) 'Encounter' and 'catch' are more similar, but then they both have a /t/ and a /k/. 'Encounter' does not so much imply that the meeting is not wished for, but used in this sense, it does imply an element of surprise. You don't expect it. In another sense as in "I encountered many difficulties along the way," you do find the 'unwished for' status of /t/-/k/. 'I took her unawares' differs from 'I caught her unawares' in the /t/-/k/ inversion. In 'I took her unawares', there was an initial directedness - you set out to get specifically her (/t/), and succeeded (/k/). In 'I caught her unawares', you weren't specifically after her. You just 'came upon' her (/k/), and in addition, she didn't want to be come upon (/t/).
5. To deal a blow to; strike; hit: He took his opponent a sharp
jab in the ribs.
The synonym 'deal a blow to' differs from 'take' in this context in that when you 'deal a blow to', the opponent could have just been sitting at his desk looking out the picture window and enjoying the view. When you 'take' him a sharp jab in the ribs, there's a scuffle implied, and he's actively trying to avoid (/t/) the contact (/k/). The synonym 'strike' also has that /t//k/. The /str/ in the beginning makes 'strike' more deliberate and powerful than 'take'. 'Hit' differs from 'take' in that the velar (/h/) comes first. The /t/ at the end can send the ball flying right out of the park in 'hit'. If you 'take' the ball out of the park, however, you leave with it.
6. To affect favorably or winsomely;
charm; captivate: He was completely taken by the puppy
'Affect' and 'captivate' also have /t/-/k/. Funny how that goes, non? You'd think every other word in English contains a /t/ and a /k/ from looking at synonyms of 'take'... probably just a coincidence. However, when you are taken with something, it happens in spite of yourself. You weren't going to be taken (/t/), but then you were (/k/). The word 'charm' starts with that /t/ too, and when you are charmed, you are led along. But you aren't captured when you are charmed... You are captured when you are 'taken', 'captivated' or even 'affected'. You fall under another's control. I'm not going to get into 'captivate' or 'affect' here, because they're latinate, and they've got suffixes and prefixes and all sort of other nonsense going on.
7. To put (food or drink, for example) into the body; eat, drink,
inhale, or draw in: take a deep breath
Now when you 'take food', you don't just 'eat', and when you 'take' a deep breath, something more than likely is coming up (/t/) that you're taking that breath for. Otherwise you'd just be breathing. 'Taking a breath' is purposeful. 'Breathing' is just breathing. Similarly, when you 'take food', there's a sense in which you do it very intentionally (/t/). Sitting in front of the TV overdosing on Frito Lays is not 'taking food'. You 'take food' for nourishment. You 'take a drink' to calm your nerves perhaps, or to ready yourself for the next round. 'Take' in this context tends to imply hardship in a way that 'eat', 'drink', 'breathe' and 'be merry' do not. Hence 'take' medicine, but not 'take your Fritos'. That hardship is the by now infamous /t/-/k/ conflict. The /k/ in this case is of course the consumption by the body.
8. To expose one's body to (healthful or pleasurable treatment,
for example): take some sun.
In this case, what you take in is pleasurable, but it's still purposeful. 'Take some sun' is different from 'lie in the sun' in that you can lie in the sun without really caring whether you're in the sun or in the shade. But if you 'take some sun', you're doing it intentionally (/t/). You can say, "That blanket is lying in the sun," or "That blanket is exposed to the sun." You can't say, "That blanket is taking some sun," unless it's a very special type of blanket that's capable of walking around on its own and advising you of it's position on world affairs. That intention is the /t/. The sun-absorption is, of course, the /k/.
9. To bring or receive into a particular
relation, association or other connection: take a new partner into the
'Take' in this connection is different from 'invite' for example, in that a purpose is implied. You can sort of invite someone to join your business as a partner, but you can't 'take' someone into your dinner party. The intention required for 'taking' someone in is the /t/. 'Take' is different from 'bring in' and 'receive' in this required purposefulness as well. You can 'bring' or 'receive' someone into your church group, just so they can belong and feel good, but you can't 'take' them into a church group unless you have an agenda for them (/t/). The inclusion is, of course, /k/ again.
10. To have sexual intercourse with: Abraham took his slave
One senses in these contexts that the lady at the very least didn't have a whole lot of say in the matter, and probably was even unwilling - once again the /t/-/k/ conflict. And of course 'have sexual intercourse with' can have a female subject - not so with 'take'. 'Have sexual intercourse with' has no implication of unwillingness. It is resoundingly neutral. And since this is to be posted on the Worldwide Web, and my children may be reading this page, I'll opt against a detailed analysis of all possible synonyms for this particular sense of the word... at the expense, of course, of a certain of scientific rigor.
11. To accept and place under one's
care and keeping
'Accept' - /t//k/ again. I suppose this is like taking in an orphan. The implication is that the being taken in would be alone and destitute without you. So you take them in despite some inconvenience. 'Taking in' in this sense is different from 'inviting over', in that you're doing it not for your own entertainment, but for their well-being and at your own expense. 'Taking in' involves more inconvenience than merely adopting, but you do it anyway, because the circumstances are particularly harsh. The /t/-/k/ conflict again.
12. To appropriate for one's own or
another's use or benefit; obtain by purchase; secure, buy: We always
take season tickets
In the example sentence, the thing you buy when you 'take' are tickets. That is, because of the /t/, you purchase not to simply own, but to go somewhere. The acquisition implicit in purchase is, of course, again the /k/. You can also say, "I'll take three Gefilte fish and a pound of sliced Havarti." The 'take' in the preceding sentence can be replaced by 'have', but not 'buy' - at least not idiomatically. Let us consider this usage. If you say, "I'd like to buy a pound of sliced Havarti," you're probably not at the deli counter staring at the cheese. You could be at home dreaming about Havarti still uncertain whether any store in town even carries Havarti. When you say, "I'll take that one," you have to be in the store looking straight at at the item, and you're probably choosing between that particular item and several others. When you say, "I'll have a pound of sliced Havarti," there's not the same implication that you're choosing among several options. This 'choice' is the directedness in /t/. Also when you say, 'I'll take a three cheese pizza,' you probably mean it's to go. If you say, "I'll have a three cheese pizza," there's a better chance you're going to stay and eat it in the restaurant.
13a. To assume for or upon oneself:
I'll take the blame.
Often the various senses of words like these are set apart by the class of subjects and objects that they can take. In this case, the sense is really about a limited set of direct objects for take which includes 'praise', 'blame', 'credit', etc. These are words of evaluation. You can't, for example, say, 'I'll take the hope, fear, wisdom,..." An evaluation, unlike hope, fear or wisdom, is directed (/t/) specifically at you. When you 'take' an evaluation, you acknowledge (/k/) it as valid. But in 'taking' the praise or the blame, one still senses the /t/-/k/ tension. If you 'take' the blame, you do it because you must, although you wish you weren't to blame. And when you 'take' the praise, you also 'tend' not to (one supposes), because it's immodest.
13b.To charge or oblige oneself with the fulfillment of (a task
or duty, for example); undertake; commit oneself to: He took chairmanship
of the committee.
Here the principle is the same as in (9). When you 'take' here, it is toward the fulfillment of a task (/t/). Notice that whereas you can say, "I'll have a three cheese pizza," you can't say, "I'll have the chairmanship of the committee." This is because it is a task to be fulfilled and requires a /t/.
13c. To pledge one's obedience to; impose (a vow or promise) upon
A vow, like a task, is an obligation to be fulfilled, hence the /t/.
13d. To subject oneself to: She took extra time to do the job
I'm not entirely sure what is intended by this definition, but I believe they mean only the sense in which 'time' can appear as the direct object of 'take'. If you 'use' your time well, then there's no specific task that the time is allotted to. However, when you 'take' time, The time has been allocated for the execution of something specific (/t/). In general, 'time' in English is a /t/ concept.
13e. To accept or adopt for one's own
Since there are no examples offered here, I'm uncertain how this sense is intended to differ from, for example, (1) or (11).
13f. To put forth or argue as a point
of argument, defense or discussion: Your interpretation of the poem is
In this case, the direct object is a point, interpretation or argument. Once again, the thing 'taken' is leading somewhere (/t/). There is an intention behind it. If the purpose is mere entertainment, you don't use 'take', as in 'Your story was well received.' If you say, 'Your story was well taken,' at least to my ear, the implication is that the story had a moral and was intended to teach, not merely entertain.
13g. To require or have as a fitting or proper accompaniment:
Intransitive verbs take no direct object
In this sense of 'take', there is implied a primary thing and a secondary thing that tails along with the primary thing. That's the /t/. "I take honey mustard on my spaghetti." It is the directedness that is the /t/ and the adherence that is the /k/.
14. To obtain through competition: Our candidate took Rhode
Same comments apply here as in (1c) above.
15. To defeat: St. Louis took Boston
3 to 1.
Here the implication is that they took the championship, and like in (1c), (5), (14), Boston is not just sitting around getting taken, but is actively resisting. Again, the capture is through force, skill and artifice. The reason this sense is considered separate from (1c) and (14) is that the direct object is not a playing piece, as in (1), and the competition does not result in winning an election, thus defeating Rhode Island. Although you can say, "St. Louis took Boston," it's a little strange to say, "Our candidate took their candidate." (i.e. defeated her) I think if you did say that, the implication would be that the whole purpose of the election was to win a sort of championship, and not to serve in office. I don't think the strangeness of "Our candidate took their candidate" has to do with /t/ or /k/, but rather with the function that a direct object has.
16a. To select, pick out, choose: Take any card.
Many of the comments from (12) apply here. The directedness in /t/ here implies a choice. All the proposed synonyms 'select', 'pick out' and 'choose' contain a /t/. 'Select' and 'pick out' also contain a /k/. When you say 'pick out' as opposed to merely 'pick', you are emphasizing a range from which to choose. The 'aw' sound in 'out' expresses breadth, expansion, and the /t/ points to a particular place.
16b. To choose for one's own use; avail oneself of the use of:
He took a rented car.
Same comments as (12) and (16a).
16c. To use a tool for doing something: I'm going to take scissors
to that hair, son.
Here again, the son doesn't want his hair cut. He tends a different direction. There is resistance implied in this usage of 'take'. You don't say while building a house, "I'm going to take a hammer to all of those nails." In order to say, "I'm going to take a hammer to that nail," you have to feel the nail is betraying you in some way, and you have a very specific intent to set things to rights. The nail tends another way than the way you would choose. Once again, force, skill and artifice.
16d. To use as a means of conveyance or transportation: take
a steamer to Europe
Here again is the obvious directedness of travel. Fully 18.5% of monomorphemic words starting with /t/ concern travel toward a specific destination. If you compare traveling words in other sounds, the destination is often totally irrelevant: walk, leave, hop, prance, wander, shoo, move,...
16e. To use as a means of safety or
refuge: Take shelter in the event of an air raid.
Once again, you find here the /t/-/k/ conflict. If there is no air raid, then you don't 'take shelter', you just 'walk into' the shelter, or 'enter' the shelter... because that's where you want to be. If you 'take' shelter, it's against your will, really. You'd rather be outside playing kickball with the kids. You tend one way. You're forced another.
17. Assume occupancy of: Take a
As in (16a, 16b), this sense implies a choice as well. Whenever you 'take a seat' there are many seats, never just one. And when you do 'take a seat', it is implied that some event or journey is upcoming. You 'take a seat' on a boat or train. You 'take a seat' before viewing a performance or starting a class or eating a meal. But you don't 'take a seat' just to veg out in front of the TV or to make yourself scarce. And you don't (I think) take a seat unless there are many seats to choose from. So I think you say that the members of the orchestra 'take their seats'. But in a solo piano concert, I think I'd not say, "He took his seat and started to play," but rather, "He sat down and started to play." For many reasons, a very few of which I have been trying to point out in this little essay, I think that implied choice of seats as well as the implied intention of performing an activity lie in the /t/. Again and again in these senses, the resultant occupancy is /k/.
18. To have as a requirement or necessity for something; require:
It takes money to live in that town.
'Take' in this sense is different from the synonym offered 'require' in that the requirement is always toward a specific goal. A professor can 'require' you to show up 5 minutes early every day for no particular reason... just because she's on a power trip. 'Take' can't be used in that context. You can say, "I require money" period. When you say, "It takes money," you mean it takes money to do something specific - /t/. This sense, unlike many of the others listed above, is not a verb of acquisition. The subject in this case is always 'it'. In fancy schmancy linguistic terminology, this it is called a 'pleonastic', because it ridiculously doesn't refer to anything at all. 'It takes money'... Who takes money? Just the omnipotent 'it'. What the sentence therefore boils down to 'TAKE': disappear the money someplace (/t/), against your preferences (/t/ vs. /k/).
19. To obtain from a source; derive;
draw: She took her domineering tone from her mother.
I'm not entirely sure here, but I think you mostly take bad things in this sense. You tend to say, "She took her domineering tone from her mother and got her good looks/charming disposition, etc. from her father." (Correct me if I'm wrong.) If this is true, then you once again have this /t/ resistance... you don't want to take something bad. On the other hand, you can say, "Hey, she took that idea from me," implying that she didn't give you much credit for it, whereas 'she got that idea from me' has the generosity of /g/ in it. Similarly, you can say proudly, "She takes her brilliance from me," of a good quality. But it's weirder to say, "I take my brilliance from him." It's sort of like there's a conflict of modesty there. On the one hand you are being modest for 'taking it from X' instead of being wholly responsible yourself. On the other hand, you aren't being modest at all about how brilliant you are.
20. To obtain through certain procedures
from a source or sources: take a reading on a dial.
I think once again here 'take a reading' implies many readings just as 'take a seat' implies many seats. And in the same manner, I think it implies some intention. "She read the dial," just means that she read the dial. But "she took a reading" implies that there's some scientific experiment or billing for which the reading is required.
21a. To put down in writing; write: take a letter.
I think that 'take a letter' implies some official business. In one of the great movies of all time, Amistad, the British captain having just matter-of-factly bombed the slave fortress (Fire... Fire... Fire... Fire... Fire...) instructs, "Take a letter, ensign: To his honor, the Secretary of State, Mr. John Forsythe. Dear Mr. Forsythe, it is my great pleasure to inform you that you are in fact correct. The slave fortress in Sierra Leone... does not exist." (tears, joy, rapture) (Couldn't resist that.) Let's see, where were we?
21b. To put down an image, likeness
or representation of by or as by drawing, painting or photography: take
a picture of us
I think the difference between 'paint' and 'take a painting' is that in the latter case, some automaticity is implied, with a means to an end (/t/). The process no longer matters. It's not an artistic event, but a practical one. For that reason, since the invention of the camera, we almost never say 'take a painting of' any more. There's a much easier way if all you require is a likeness which you can capture and use for some utilitarian purpose. Similarly, you tend to use the verb 'photograph' if there's artistic content to the result. "I'd someday like to photograph you in your blue chiffon dress against the Rocky Mountains." But "Take my picture so I can prove to Mom that I reached the summit."
22a. To accept (something owned, offered
or given) either reluctantly or willingly: He takes bets on the track.
This 'either reluctantly or willingly is highly suspect'. Of course it's either reluctant or willing. The point is that reluctance in an issue. The speed or acumen with which he takes bets is irrelevant. That's /t/-/k/ again doing its thing. You can hear a chipper, "Okay, I'll take it," or a gloomy, "Okay, I'll take it." In neither case do you really want it, but in one case you're being nice about it, and in the other not.
22b. To submit to (something inflicted);
endure: He can't take criticism.
And rightly so. Nobody should. See (13a)
22c. To withstand: The dam took the heavy flood waters.
If you 'just can't take it' any more, that's different from being unable to 'carry', 'handle' or 'bear' it in the sense that what you 'take' is intentionally directed at you (/t/). If it's merely something you 'carry' or 'bear', it's heavy, but not out to get you. If you can't 'handle' it, the situation is messy, to be sure, but oblivious to you personally. In the case of the dam in the example sentence, there is an intense directed torrent or stream of flood waters. You can't say, "The dam takes the tremendous pressure of the still water that lies behind it." You have to use the verb 'withstand' or something in that context.
22d. To accept or believe (something
put forth) as true: I'll take your word.
To 'take someone's word' differs from the synonym 'believe' in that it is always used in the context where some intended project hinges on the belief. That's /t/ again. If you say, "I believe Sylvester is competent," that's a statement of fact. If you say, "I take your word for it that Sylvester is competent," at least to my ear that implies that something hinges on it... you're planning a project which will fail in the event that Sylvester is not competent.
22e. To follow (advice or a suggestion, or a lead, for example):
The /t/-/k/ dynamic here is really the same as in (13f)
22f. To accept, handle or deal with in a particular way: He
takes things in stride.
Similar to (22 b,c)
22g. To consider in a particular relation or from a particular
viewpoint: take the bitter with the better.
Similar to (22 b,c)
23. To indulge in do, perform, or
accomplish: take a bath.
To see what 'take' is doing in these contexts, you need to compare 'bathe' with 'take a bath', 'walk' with 'take a walk', etc.. In linguistic terms, the 'take a' makes the action 'perfective', which means that it takes on a specific start point or end point in time or both. In almost all the above senses, 'take' is being perfective'. And in several of the above senses, 'take' specifically has the effect of making the action perfective when it would not otherwise be perfective. (3,7,8,16d,16e,20,21) It is not just focused at the be-here-now of the activity itself, but views the activity as a bounded event, surrounded metaphorically by walls... a beginning or an end or some other concrete temporal limitation. When you say, "I want to bathe," it's because you enjoy the process of bathing. When you say, "I want to take a bath," it's more likely because you smell bad... the action becomes purposive (/t/).
24a. To allow to come in; admit; give access or admission to:
The boat took a lot of water, but remained afloat.
Similar to (22c).
24b. To provide room for; accommodate: We can't take more than
Similar to (22c).
24c. To become saturated or impregnated with (dye, for example).
Similar to (22c).
25a. To understand or interpret: He
took my silence rightly for disapproval.
An interpretation (/t/) is implied. An event happens which inherently has no interpretation, but you assign it a direction, an interpretation.
25b. To consider, assume: All hope is that we may not be taken
for exisemen in this whiskey country.
Similar to (25a)
25c. To consider to be equal to; reckon: We take their number
Here again, an interpretation is implied... you didn't actually count so you know for sure. Also the reckoning is taken for a purpose. Perhaps a battle is impending and you need to know the size of the opposing army so you can plan you strategy. /t/ has a lot of 'totalling' numbers.
25d. To perceive or feel; experience: I take pleasure to inform
If you say, "I am pleased to inform you," you imply neither the perfective (see 23) nor the 'capture' implicit in the /k/. Also 'take pleasure' implies a directedness from the process of informing to your state of pleasure which is not implied in 'I am pleased.'
26. To carry along or cause to go with one to another place: Don't
forget to take your umbrella.
27. To lead to another place: This bus takes you past the museum.
This is like (16d), except the 'museum' is along the path rather than at the endpoint.
28. To remove from a place: take dishes from the left.
29. To secure by removing: The
dentist took two molars.
See (1)... no problem here understanding the resistance or the necessity of 'force, skill and artifice'. When there's none of that, you can use a verb like 'pick up'. One can't envision the dentist 'picking up' two molars, unless he'd just fumbled them and dropped them on the floor.
30. To cause to die; kill; destroy:
The blight took these tomatoes.
Similar to (1b,c), except that the subject is inanimate rather than animate.
31. To subtract.
'Subtract' is also /t/-/k/ and has that 'take away' dynamic. But when you say, '7 minus 2 is 5', that's merely a statement of mathematical fact. If you say 'seven take away two equals five', I picture a directed motion of the two leave the 7 in some direction. That's the /t/, and I don't feel it in the word 'minus'. In this case, I think the function of the /k/ is a little different... not the capture that has appeared in most senses of 'take', but rather the 'cutting off' implicit in /k/. See description of /k/. In addition, the 'take' here does not fit in the class of acquisition verbs.
32. To commit oneself to the study of; enroll in: take a biology
'Commitment' and 'enrollment' have /t/ all over them. This sense also carries in it the didactic nature of /t/ (teach, train, Talmud, etc.). You don't 'take' dentist appointments or concerts... only events in which you intentionally seek to learn.
33. To swindle; defraud; cheat: You were taken.
You tended one way (/t/), and got snookered (/k/).
34. To refrain from swinging at (a pitched ball)
Don't watch much baseball. Never heard this one, but we're certainly talking motion directed toward a goal (/t/).
take v. took, taken, taking, takes - intr.
1. To acquire possession
Same as (1) above.
2. To engage or mesh; catch; as gears or other mechanical parts
When gears or other mechanical parts 'take', the 'capture' or engagement (/k/) is always purposeful or directed.
3. To start growing; root; germinate:
Have the seeds taken?
The /t/ again represents an intention and direction. /k/ in this case is the /k/ of causality, which is also quite prevalent in /k/. I don't yet fully understand the relationship between containment and causality in /k/.
4. To have the intended effect; operate; work: The transfusion
Same as (3) just above.
5. To gain popularity or favor: That show will never take with
Same as (3) just above.
6. To detract; used with from: The indiscretion takes from
his public image.
No... Really? And to distract us from what governmental mischief, one wonders? Same as (31) above. The synonym 'detract' is also /t/-/k/.
7. To become: He took sick.
Same as (3) far above in the transitives. In fact, I don't understand why one is considered intransitive and the other not. They look like exactly the same sense to me.
8. To set out for; make one's way; go: Afoot and light-hearted,
I take to the open road.
Same as intransitive (3) just above.
-take aback. bewilder, astonish, nonplus
Much like transitive (4) above.
-take a back seat. to play a secondary or unimportant role; give
way to another
Much like (13).
-take advantage of. 1. to use to one's advantage; derive
profit from, 2. To impose upon a person to his detriment; exploit
Similar to transitive (1) above.
-take after. 1. To follow as an example, 2. To resemble
in appearance, temperament or character
See (19) above.
-take amiss. To be offended by through misunderstanding
See (25) above.
-take apart. 1. To divide or analyze (an object or theory,
for example) into component parts; disassemble, 2. Informal
To tear into violently; beat up; thrash
The /t/ in the first sense is that of interpretation. In the second sense, it is similar to (30) and (1) above.
-take at one's word. To accept or believe as true
-take back. To retract something stated or written
The dynamic is similar to that of (13a), except that you 'take back' a statement which is not necessarily an evaluation. But there is some resistance implicit in it. (You take that back!)
-take care. To be careful
This 'take' involves skill and artifice. There is an implicit danger. The /k/ is not that of contact or capture, but of caution, another of the /k/ phonesthemes.
-take care of. To assume responsibility for the maintenance, support
or treatment of
Like (11) above.
-take effect. 1. To become operative, as under law or regulation,
2. To have the intended effect, as a drug
The /t/ is that of intention. The /k/ is that of causality.
-take five (ten). To take a short rest or break, as of five or
Some very strenuous activity is implied from which you withdraw yourself... there's a tendency to remain with the activity. The /k/ is that of cutting off or cutting short. Notice 'cut' also is /k/-/t/.
-take for. 1. To consider or suppose to be, regard as:
I take him for a fool 2. To consider mistakenly: We took
you for dead
See (25) above.
-take for granted. 1. To consider as true, real or forthcoming;
anticipate correctly, 2. To underestimate the value of
See (25) above.
-take heart. To be confident or courageous
The /t/ implies an impending task. The /k/ is again causal.
-take in vain. To use a name, especially a sacred name profanely
The /t/ is that of interpretation. All velars including /k/ very broadly concern a division between sacred and the profane, not only in this context. Specifically, the /k/ is that of the 'curse', synonyms of which make up about 2% of words containing /k/.
-take it. 1. Understand, assume: I take it that,
2. Informal To endure abuse, criticism or other harsh treatment:
You've got to learn to take it in the army.
Sense 1 - see (25) above. Sense 2 - see (22 b)
-take it lying down. Informal To submit to harsh treatment
with no resistance
See (22 b)
-take it out on. Informal To abuse another person in venting
one's own anger or frustration
Like so many other /t/-/k/, this involves a misdirected interpretation.
-take on. 1. To hire, 2. To undertake or begin to
handle (a task, for example), 3. To oppose in competition, 4.
To display violent or passionate emotion: Don't take on so!
Sense 1 is like (9). Sense 2 is much like (13b). Sense 3 is much like (15). When you 'take on', as opposed to when you merely are moody or fierce or angry, there's a specific point which you are upset about. That's the /t/. It involves an interpretation of a specific event. The /k/ of this sense implies contact in the sense of conflict or combat.
-take out. 1. To extract; remove, 2. To secure (a
license for example) by application to an authority, 3. Informal
To escort, as on a date: He has taken me out 3 times.
Sense 1 is like (29). Sense 2 is like (20). Sense 3 is like (2) above.
-take over. To assume control or management of
Like (13b) above
-take place. 1. To have as a locality, 2. To happen
Sense 1 is like (17). When an event 'takes place', it was planned in advance. This comes from the directedness in /t/, and does not hold of the words 'happen' or 'occur'. The /k/, I think, is that of causality.
-take to. 1. To have recourse to; go to, as for safety:
He took to the woods, 2. To develop as a habit or steady practice:
take to drink, 3.To become fond of or attracted to: Two
keen minds that they are, they took to each other.
Sense 1 is like (16e). I think senses 2 and 3 are essentially (6).
-take to task. To call to account for a mistake or offense; reprove
The /t/ is that of interpretation. The /k/ is that of conflict.
-take up with. To develop a friendship or association with: take
up with thieves
Why is 'take up' (as in 'take up dinner', 'take you up on') omitted? Like (13f).
take - n.
1a. The act or process of taking
Similar to transitive (1) above.
1b. That which is taken
Similar to transitive (1) above.
2. The number of fish, game birds or other animals killed or captured
at one time
Similar to transitive (1) above.
3. A quantity of anything collected at one time; especially, the
amount of profits or receipts taken on a business arrangement or venture
Similar to transitive (1) above.
4. Slang: The amount of money collected as admission to
a sporting event; the gate
Similar to (22a).
5. The uninterrupted running of a motion picture or television
camera or set of recording equipment in filming a movie or television show
or cutting a record
Similar to (21b).
6a. A scene televised or filmed without interrupting the run of
Similar to (21b).
6b. A recording made in a single session
Similar to (21b).
7a. Any physical reaction, as a rash, indicating a successful
Like intransitive (3) above
7b. A successful graft
Like intransitive (3) above
8. Slang: An attempt or try: He go the answer on the
This sense is perfective, as in 5, 6a, and 6b immediately above, as well as transitive (23). The intention of 'try' comes from /t/ and is directed at a goal.
There seem to me many more senses of take that the dictionary has omitted for one reason or another: take arms, take chances, take it badly/well, take a left, take off, etc.
Some other /t/-/k/ words in English
Now in case I have been so successful in my presentation (not too likely), that you at this point start thinking that there's nothing more to the meaning of 'take' than /t/-/k/, let me point out a few other facts of language. Within English, the /t/-/k/ falls in many semantic classes besides 'acquisition', and the /t/-/k/ dynamic takes a different flavor in these other classes. Consider the /t//k/ verb: 'talk'. 'Talk' is unlike the many 'blabbering' verbs: chatter, prattle, gab, gossip, banter, etc. in that it has content which has value. There is something specific a 'talker' wants to 'talk' about. This come from the /t/. If I say, 'I want to talk with you,' I mean that I have an issue which concerns me, and I hope that a conversation with you will bring about a resolution. 'I want to speak with you,' is more likely to imply that you're in trouble. 'I want to gab, chatter, shoot the breeze,' implies that there's nothing in particular I need to discuss.
However, unlike 'prove, explain, show, say,' and an equally vast array of other verbs, 'talk' does not yet know what the result of the conversation will be. You enter into 'talk' with an issue seeking closure, but with the exact nature of the outcome left open. That is, once again we find directedness toward a goal but no comment about the actual conclusion. The closure in 'talk' therefore has a different status than the closure in /p/ verbs like 'prove', 'preach' and 'point out' in that the speaker does not yet know what the outcome of the process will be. But s/he does seek an outcome. In contrast to its partner 'tell', 'talk' does seek a resolution (/k/), but the resolution comes at the end, rather than at the beginning, as in 'prove' and the other /p/ words. 'Tell' has a story line and a direction, but nothing it needs resolved.
It is, of course, insufficient to look at isolated words in this manner. One has to look at all words methodically to really understand the dynamics. My intention in making this little presentation is to clarify why I think you can't speak English at all unless you know its phonosemantics, its poetry. If you don't know about this tendency in /t/ and this capture in /k/, you can't get at this inner conflict in 'take'. You don't know about 'force, skill and artifice', why it is necessary, what it is trying to overcome. A thousand dictionary entries will never get to the essence of it. They will never communicate what it is that all those strange usages of 'take' have in common - why these idiot Englishmen think they have anything to do with one another. You have to know /t/ and /k/ personally to see that all those senses are just the same guy in different uniforms.
Translations of 'take'
Many readers at this point are likely to have an objection to my analysis of 'take' in that frequently translations of the word 'take' into other languages can be used in much the same way as English 'take', and yet they are not pronounced at all like 'take'.
First, let me consider a case where the pronunciation of the closest translation to 'take' is very similar. In Norwegian, the word that most frequently translates as 'take' is 'ta', which also begins with a /t/, and in fact 'ta' has a /k/ in the past tense (tok). Many sound symbolists I know of, based on methods introduced by the Prague phonologists and used extensively in the generative linguistic tradition would say that Norwegian 'ta' has an underlying (invisible) /k/ also in the present tense, infinitive and participles. The idea is that the /k/ really is there but it's not there on the surface. I have always had and still have a problem with that methodology for reasons discussed in my Methodology paper. That move makes the idea that there is a correlation between sound and meaning unverifiable in principle. Whenever I find an exception, I just posit an 'underlying' sound that suits my theory, and proceed merrily along. But as soon as I do that, I am no longer doing science. My theory can no longer be falsified by independent tests. So I assume that since 'ta' does not have a /k/ in the present tense, it does not have a /k/ there and that's all.
I think you can't use 'ta' for senses 3, 8, 16c,16e,18, 20, 25c, 25d. Sense 6 requires a prefix 'be-'. Sense 13f requires the prefix 'mot-'. Sense 26 requires a preposition 'med'. Still, Norwegian 'ta' acts much like English 'take' even though it doesn't have a /k/ in all forms of the verb. The way I understand this is that sound, of course, does not wholly determine meaning, but must be compatible with meaning. Since one form of 'ta' has a /k/, that form must be /t/-/k/ compatible, and consequently all forms end up being compatible with the /t/-/k/. There are a great many issues in this domain which I have not addressed anywhere near satisfactorily. Still the data I provide above does seem to me to carry some weight.
I'd add that Norwegian 'ta' is used quite a bit in contexts that English 'take' is not, though sometimes I see no reason why it couldn't be:
* ta på = take on, means get dressed or touch (depending on tone)
* ta og = take and, until this sense didn't appear in the American Heritage I thought it existed in English too. Now I'm not so sure. You can say in Norwegian, "I'm going to take and cut off his head." The 'take' there essentially expresses emotional directedness and intention.
*anta = ontake, means assume
* ta seg sammen = take oneself together, means pull oneself together
*ta igjen = take again, means resist
*ta knekken på = take the break on, means destroy
*ta i = take in, means exert yourself
*ta seg godt ut = take oneself well out, means make a good impression
*ta alt med en gang = take all all at once, means master
*ta lett på ting = take light on things, means be superficial
*ta seg til = take oneself to, means take up
*ta fram = take forward, means bring out (as of plates from a cupboard)
*ta av = take off, means diminish
I do think on average that these senses are more fully oriented at directionality and weaker on the acquisition, contact and causality of the /k/ than the senses which English also allows. I'm not prepared to run such a test in its entirety to really determine this. The OED entry for 'take' in English is 19 pages. An equally detailed entry for Norwegian 'ta' would perhaps even be longer.
German is very closely related to English, but the closest translation for 'take' is pronounced very differently. I am not as comfortable with German as Norwegian, but I think that 'nehmen' is less similar to English 'take' than Norwegian 'ta'. I suspect that 'nehmen' cannot be used in senses 3-8 and in many of the last transitive senses of 'take' listed above. I would guess that German 'nehm' would be based in the 'nearness' of /n/ and the 'claim' of /m/. The 'nearness' of /n/ is not directed like /t/; it is only very close by. /n/ is not so intentional as /t/. The 'me' of /m/ is not so much that of a capture as of something that is inherently part of. Both nasals are sounds of the 'mind', and so I would predict, without having looked into it more deeply, that German would have many senses for 'nehmen' concerning thought which English does not have. Also, /n/ and /m/ are both sounds preoccupied with number and magnitude. I would expect German senses for 'nehmen' concerning magnitude that did not exist in English 'take'. English /t/ and /k/ are stopped consonants. Therefore I would predict that the perfective senses of 'take' as in take a bath, do another take, etc. would be largely unavailable to German 'nehm'. etc., etc. If any of my readers speak German natively, I'd love to know if these predictions are correct.
The closest Russian translation for 'take' is also not pronounced anything like 'take'. In the imperfective, it is the root 'ber', similar in many ways to the English verb 'bear', and in the perfective, it is /v//z/. Tons of the English senses listed above for 'take' are not available at all in Russian, and Russian 'ber' also has tons of senses that are not available in English 'take'. When Russian 'ber' is used in transitive sense (1) at the very top, I'm almost sure that the 'skill and artifice' are mostly dispensed with. You can use 'brat'' to mean simply 'pick up'. I believe there's also a 'burden' implicit in 'brat'' that is not there in 'take'. For example, one set of senses that Russian 'ber' does take are those concerning blame and responsibility, both of which can also be considered burdens. Also, there are some of these English senses in which 'ber' is possible but the perfective /v//z/ is not. They really are two different verbs in Russian.
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