Thursday, December 3, 2020

Language Of Confusion: Answers

This week I’m looking at words related to answer. It’s also going to be a partial redo since I looked at solve almost ten years ago and, like most of my posts from that era, it’s not very good.
Answer itself comes from the Old English andswaru as a noun and andswarian as a verb, and I can see why no one wanted to keep that D in there, it’s awkward to say. The and- is from ant-, against, the origin of anti-, and the rest is from swerian, to swear. An answer is to swear against. People think the original sense of the word was “a sworn statement rebutting a charge”, and then sometime in the fourteenth century it started to morph into a response to anything. You’d swear against a charge, so you’re answering. If you look at swerian, it comes from the Proto Germanic swerjanan, which may or may not be from the Proto Indo European swer-, to speak. That would make sense as the origin of answer, but we should always be suspicious of etymology making sense.
Solve, which I once looked at long ago, showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning to disperse, dissipate or loosen, and not meaning to solve as we’d use it until the sixteenth century. The reason for that has to do with solution, which also showed up in the late fourteenth century and meant something being solved, but only because that was how it was used in French. It comes from the Old French solucion, which meant explanation or even payment, but also division or dissolve. It’s from the classical Latin solutionem, which means solution like a solid dissolved in a liquid, from the verb solvere, to loosen (as well as to solve). It can actually be traced to the Proto Indo European words swe-, which is something like our, and leu-, to cut apart.
Next we’ll look at retort. It showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the Old French retort and classical Latin retortus. That word is from the verb retorquere, which actually means to twist. That’s a mix of re-, back, and torquere, to twist, and I’m sure you’re thinking that looks an awful lot like torque, which is because that’s where torque comes from. That torquere can actually be traced back to the Proto Indo European terkw-, to twist, so I guess people had to talk about twisting a lot. And for some reason we dropped the Q and now we have retort.
Remedy showed up in the thirteenth century, coming from the Anglo French remedie, Old French remede, and classical Latin remedium, all of which are just remedy. The re- prefix means again here, and the rest is from mederi, to find a cure. How refreshingly straightforward.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary
Fordham University

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

December Goals

Well, it’s the last month of 2020. And to think, it only took fifty years to get here. Anyone else terrified to see what 2021 is like? Anyway, goals.
November Goals
1. Keep working on notes from my beta readers.
Hey, I actually did this. Really surprising considering how difficult it was to concentrate on anything that wasn’t overwhelming dread.
2. Thanksgiving. Though with the pandemic, this should be nice and subdued.
I love not having to do anything for Thanksgiving. Let’s make that a yearly thing.
3. Just get through the month.
Well, that seems to have happened. Good for me for aiming low.
As successful as it could be, I suppose. I did spend the first two weeks doing nothing but stress-reading the news. Now what should I do this month?
December Goals
1. Update etymology page. I’m still trying to get rid of those damn double spaces between the words.
2. More beta reads. My book definitely needs more opinions.
3. Figure out what project I want to work on next.
So, that’s what I want for the end of the year. What are you doing this month? Remember to wear a mask and stay away from people. The dreaded plague can cause a lot of damage and exacerbate a lot of conditions. Stay safe.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Before And After #3

Yeah I’m not sharing a damn thing.
Back to normal next week. See you then!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Before And After #2

It’s Thanksgiving! I probably won’t be around! But not because I’m doing anything. I just don’t feel like it.
Yes, things are so very different around here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Before And After #1

It’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the US! As per usual, I’m doing something slightly different this week. This year I decided to look at the vast differences between 2019 and 2020.
Although in real life, all parties were then cancelled because of the pandemic. It’s just funnier this way.

Saturday, November 21, 2020


Occasionally my mom wants me to try new things with her. I wouldn’t call it a waste of time, but… Well, maybe I would.
I’m not an adventurous eater at all, and fruit is probably the only food type I would try an unusual variety of. And I probably wouldn’t because this is usually the result.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Language of Confusion: Tear

Another redo this week. I am totally out of original ideas. This one is almost exactly ten years old, so maybe it could use another looking at.
Tear has two different meanings, to rip something apart and what happens when you cry. The crying one showed up as a verb in the early fifteenth century and a noun sometime before that, coming from the Old English tear, which is just tear, so nothing shocking here. It’s from the Proto Germanic tahr-/tagr-, and yes, that’s a g in there. That can be traced to the Proto Indo European dakru-, which means… I don’t know. Weirdly, the etymology dictionary doesn’t say. Well, when a language is more than six thousand years old, you’re bound to lose a few definitions.
The other tear showed up as a noun in the mid seventeenth century and a verb before that, coming from the Old English teran, to rip apart. It’s from the Proto Germanic teran, from the Proto Indo European root der-, to split, flay, or peel. Unlike dakru-, der- shows up in a lot more places. Derm—as in skin—is actually from the same place, and I can only assume it’s because skin peels. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Tart is actually also from der-. But not the pastry, which is actually from the PIE root terkw-, to twist. Or the derogatory word for a woman, which is from the pastry (well, maybe). No, I mean tart as in how something might taste. Which is not related to the other definitions at all. That tart showed up in the mid sixteenth century, and one theory is it’s from the Old English teart, painful, sharp, or severe, and I can see tart coming from that. Anyway, teart is from the Germanic ter-t-, which is from der-, and no, I don’t get how it went from peel to sharp. Who knows? Maybe it’s not even related at all.
But there is another word that’s most definitely from sharp and I’m way too amused to share it with you: turd. Yes, that turd. It comes from the Old English tord, from the Proto Germanic turdam. That word is from the past participle of der-, drtom, and it’s thought that because turds are split off from people (XD at that image), and split is one of the definitions of der-, we have turd.
Yes, this was an appropriate note to leave off on before Thanksgiving break. I think we can all agree it was clearly a mistake not to go into more depth on tear the first time.
Online Etymology Dictionary
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary