Sune Mai (sunemai) wrote in linguaphiles,
Sune Mai
sunemai
linguaphiles

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Serious Case of Confusion with English Words

Hello,
Unfortunately English isn't my native language and I'm at a loss with a few words. Hopefully someone here has time to explain...

What's the difference between words elven, elfin, elfen and elfish?

I have yet to find a dictionary that recognises the word elfen but I have seen it used few times. Still, it could be a mistake. According to Dictionary.com elfin and elfish are synonyms whereas my bilingual dictionary knows none of the words in question. AskOxford.com gives a solution like this "derivatives: elfish adjective, elven adjective (literary), elvish adjective", which is very nice, but unfortunately only adds one new word to the mess. Besides, my language skills aren't good enough to understand what "adjective (literary)" means. My guess is that it means that the adjective is used only in written texts, but I cannot be sure.

As I don't really believe in synonyms (I have made too many mistakes by that!), I would like to hear some opinions on how to use those and in what kind of texts. I know the general meanings already, so I'm more interested in the nuances. Any help and personal opinions on the matter are welcomed!
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  • UDDER and WATER

    To the memory of Vladislav Illich-Svitych. This is just to bring attention to something very ‘Nostratic’ (far beyond ‘Indo-European’ languages —…

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