French eschecs

 A noun is an individual but it also performs in what linguists call a Word field or a Semantic field. A semantic field is a set of words that are semantically united, for instance in the semantic field Board games. Compare it with a family: each member is an individual but is bound with the others. The death of the mother or father has a strong influence on the other family members.
Just like a family member a word is an organism: it is born, it lives and it is mortal. I don’t know when the French game name tables was born. Right from the beginning the word was a member of the French language, a construction of grammatical rules and words we assume to have been evolved out of a vulgar Latin dialect about 800 AD. I do know when the word tables died: around 1500.
At that moment, players of tables were at a loss for a new word for their game. The common procedure is that the players look round in the semantic field with board game words if there is a word free, i.e. if there is a rarely used word. They found it: eschecs. Certainly, chess players used this game name, but obviously it concerned a small or invisible group, so that players of tables could appropriate the name. The change of meaning of the English game name to play at the checker is another example of this process. The difference with France is that English chess players chose another word for their game and French chess players continued to call their game eschecs. So, from about 1500 the word eschecs had two meanings: tables and chess.
The hegemony of tables ‒and of draughts, I shall return to this later‒ with regard to chess is also proved by the Roman names for the chess pawn and the piece used in other board games. This has nothing to do with the conception Semantic field, but I doubt if there will be an opportunity in later chapters to deal with this subject, and it’s not unimportant.
The names for the chess pawn and the gaming piece in the Romance languages stem from the ancient word pes, foot; their literal meaning is therefore “foot soldier”. Originally, the name of the pawn ‒see for the names Murray [1913:422 note]‒ differed somewhat from the name of the gaming piece, but later chess players adopted the name of the gaming piece so that the names converged. This happened in Spanish in the 13th, in France in the 15th and in Italy in the 16th c. I refer for more information to Stoep 2007:12-6. There was no change in chess that needed another name for the pawn, so that there must have been a stimulus from outside. There was a stimulus: the social pression from tables and draughts on chess.

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