Meaning shift in "steal" and "borrow"

Guest   Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:52 pm GMT
I found this discussion on another forum interesting and an restarting it here as it is about to disappear on that other forum.

<<At least here, there seems to a pattern of amelioration of the word steal combined with a pejoration of the word borrow or at least a broadening of the meanings of the two words so that steal includes senses with less pejorative connotations and borrow includes senses with more pejorative connotations.

For instance, steal seems to have taken on the sense here of simply take without any negative implication, and one can indeed ask someone if one can "steal" something of theirs. For example, it is quite common to say things like "Can I steal some of your mints over there?" or "Just go steal some food from the cabinet" here.

In the opposite direction, people often speak of people "borrowing" items without any permission at all or without even any real likelihood of returning such items of their own accord. For instance, one can say things like "My roommate's friends came in here and borrowed all my games" or "He borrowed some money from the cash drawer." And in a less pejorative sense but one which still indicates meaning shift away from the dictionary sense of the word borrow, one can use borrow to ask for something which one is almost certain to not return due to the basic usage of that item, and without any intention of ever returning such even being implied. It is common to say things like "Can I borrow some paper?'. However, one generally does not use borrow to give someone permission to take such items or to refer to people having taken such items here.

As such seems quite widespread here, and seems to be present in NAE dialects outside of here, I am wondering how widespread these sorts of usages of steal and borrow are, and what exact senses are involved in such in other dialects (as such may subtly vary from such here).>>