Thursday, February 29, 2024

Language Of Confusion: Acting!, Part II

Back to looking at words related to act, which are all descended from the Proto Indo European root ag-, to drive, draw out, or move. This week, all the words start with ag-, too.
 
First, agent showed up in the late fifteenth century, initially meaning one who acts, then a natural force that produces something in the mid sixteenth century, and a deputy or representative at the end of the sixteenth century (it didn’t mean a secret agent until 1916!). Agency showed up in the mid sixteenth century, where it meant an active operation, then a mode of producing effect, and then way later in 1861 it meant a place where business is done. Both words are from the classical Latin agentem, from the verb agere, which we talked about last week as being the origin word for act. It kind of seems like agent replaced what actor used to be. And then it came to mean spy. There’s also agenda, which showed up in the mid seventeenth century, which is directly taken from a Latin word. And it also is from agere, which is from ag-.
 
Next is less obvious. Agility showed up in the early fifteenth century, a little before agile. It’s from the Old French agilité, from the classical Latin agilitatem, which is just agility, which is from agilis (agile), and that’s from agere. It does make sense that the word for movement would also give us the word for nimble and quick.
 
Slightly less sensible is agitate, which showed up in the mid sixteenth century, slightly after agitation. Both are from the classical Latin agitare, to drive (forward), which is from agere, and since ag- does mean to drive, I guess I can see it. To drive, to put in motion, to agitate.
 
How about agony? It showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French agonie/agoine, and Late Latin agonia. That’s from the Greek ag­­onia, which means agony or anguish, from agon, to struggle, to put in motion, which is from ag-. Kind of a journey, but I guess it makes sense.
 
And related to that is antagonist, which showed up in the late sixteenth century, a few decades after antagonize. It’s from the French antagoniste and Late Latin antagonista, which is from the Greek antagonistes, competitors. That’s from antagonizesthai, to compete, where the anti means against and the rest is from agon. To antagonize is to struggle against. And yeah, protagonist is from the same place. The only difference is the prefix is from proto, which is from the Proto Indo European root per-, which means forward. A protagonist is driving the agony forward.
 
Sources
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
Omniglot
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Only Reason

My mom didn’t ask, but she really doesn’t need to.
Panel 1, I’m on the phone with my mom and she says, “I signed us up to give blood on Monday!” Panel 2, I say, “Then they’re giving away Girl Scout Cookies again?” and she responds, “Of course. Why else would I do it?”

It was quite crowded. Everyone really wants those cookies.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Language Of Confusion: Acting!, Part I

This will be yet another simple word with a far reaching etymology. Act showed up in the late fourteenth century as a noun and a century later as a verb, and back then it was just a synonym for to do, not meaning to perform until the sixteenth century. It comes from the classical Latin actus, act, from the verb agere, to act, which is from the Proto Indo European root ag-, to drive, draw out, or move. And that of course is the root of so many other things. But today we’ll just look at the act words.
 
Action for example showed up in the mid fourteenth century spelled accioum. It’s from the Anglo French accioun, Old French accion, which is from the classical Latin actionem, so yes, French changed the spelling, and eventually (in the fifteenth century) English changed it back. Anyway, actionem is the noun version of agere, so no big surprises here. Active is very similar, from the Old French actif and Latin activus. Actor was, during the late fourteenth century, taken straight from the Latin version of the word, actually meaning one who does something or an overseer before firmly meaning a performer. Then there’s actual, another from the early fourteenth century, meaning “pertaining to an action” before it meant something that’s real. It’s from the Old French actuel and Late Latin actualis, which of course is from actus.
 
Next we’ll look at all the prefixed versions of the word. Interact isn’t exactly rocket science, though it didn’t show up until 1805. It’s just act plus inter-, which means between, among, or during. Interacting is acting between. Transact showed up in the late sixteenth century, while transaction was actually a century earlier, from the Old French transaccion, Late Latin transactionem, and verb transigere. It’s a mix of the prefix trans-, across or beyond, and agere, so to transact is to drive across. The not often used intransigent is actually also from here, having shown up in 1874 from the Spanish los intransigentes, those not coming to an agreement, which is what they used to call the “extreme republicans of the 1870s” back in Spain. Could also use that today, but I digress. That word is, back in Latin, a mix of the in- prefix, meaning not, and transigere. Intransigent is to not transact.
 
There’s also counteract, which showed up in the late seventeenth century and is just counter and act. Exact showed up in the sixteenth century, from the Latin exactus and its verb form exigere, to demand. With ex- meaning out, to exact is… to act out? And that somehow went from to demand and became precise.
 
And finally today is to redact. It showed up in the late fourteenth century, meaning to combine into unity. Yes, really. It didn’t start to mean to edit out until 1851! It’s from the classical Latin redactus, reduced, from the verb redigere, to redefine or more literally to drive back. The red- prefix is from re- here, meaning back or again, so to redact is to… act again. I guess they threw the D in their to make it distinct from react, which showed up in the mid seventeenth century and was from the French réaction and Medieval Latin reactionem, from the Latin reagere, to react. So redact and react have been two separate words for a long time, despite being made up of the same elements.
 
Sources
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
Omniglot
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Dictionary of Medieval Latin
Fordham University
Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

From The Spamfiles

The one constant of the universe is people trying to scam you.

Message evidently from myself (with an R symbol after my name!) saying Re: your e-mail has been reported. Action Recommended
Where to even begin. First of all, apparently I’m sending this to myself? But what is with the Reserved symbol after it? And I’ve been reported—to who??? Finally, anyone who uses “e-mail” is not a real human being. Email. It’s called email.

Message that says Business Inquiry underscore Paid Guest Post, from MR Usman SEO, to a bunch of random names. The body of the message says “Today I visit the wall of your blog and see that the interface is beautifully decorated. I really enjoyed your recent blog post. I wanted to share my thought in your blog. I totally understand that there would be some editorial fee involved and I am ready to pay. Hope so you will like m suggestion and we will get benefited mutually and side by side this help us to rank our both businesses.
Now isn’t this a fine mess of words. Who pays to do a guest post on some rando’s blog? Well, clearly not a real person because no actual person says “the interface is beautifully decorated”.

Another message from Blanca Saunders, this one saying, God is sending you a blessing (Genie Script), In the next 1-7 days, you will manifest a…
Blanca is usually trying to get me to sign up for some scam business opportunity, so it’s a surprise that she’s sending me this weird “blessing”. Though obviously it is still a scam.

Message from Vanguard Home Warra. saying Get the best protection for your home this fall with Vanguard Home Warranty
Isn’t that what home insurance is for? What’s the purpose of a warranty? This one is just confusing. I mean, obviously a scam. But still confusing.

Blog comment from Krugers, saying Great read thank yyou
I’m not sure why the spammers like to pick posts that are years old to leave their comments under, like I’m not going to find that suspicious. Are there people out there who actually fall for this sort of thing? Oh god, there are people out there who actually fall for this sort of thing.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Language Of Confusion: More Instrumental

Today I believe we’ll look at the etymology of some woodwinds.
 
Flute
Flute showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French flaut/flaute, which is from the Old Provençal flaut, but before that is unknown. It might be from the classical Latin flare, which means blowing, mixed with the Provençal laut, which means lute. Imagine it being a mix of flare and laut. There’s no indication that’s what it is, but what if???
 
Clarinet
This one’s actually kind of easy. It showed up in 1768 from the French clarinette, which is from clair, which means clear and is from the classical Latin clarus, also clear. I guess it was called a clarinet because the sound was clear.
 
Saxophone
A sax is probably the most modern instrument here, the word showing up in 1851 from the French saxophone, where it was named for the Belgian who first made it in 1840—Antoine Joseph Sax. Fun fact, he also created an instrument called the saxhorn. Apparently he just liked naming them after himself.
 
Oboe
This one showed up in 1724 from the Italian oboe, which is actually from the French hautbois… which was pronounced something like oboe. That word is actually related to the English (!) hautboy, another name for oboe, a mix of haught (high) and bois, which means wood. An oboe is a high wood. And its name has been translated between English and French a bunch of times.
 
Piccolo
Piccolo showed up in 1830, while piccolo flute showed up in 1809. It’s from the French piccolo and Italian flauto piccolo, which literally translates to small flute. Well, this one was straightforward.
 
Sources
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
Omniglot
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
Encyclopaedia Britannica

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Math

This has been bugging the crap out of me.
Panel 1, I’m carrying a box of frozen pizza, and I say, “Mmm, French bread pizza.” Panel 2, I’m looking at the box, and I say, “Huh, the nutritional information…” Panel 3, a close up of the box showing the calorie count, 380 for one pizza and 750 for the container, pizzas per container, 2, Panel 4, I’m squinting at the box as the math doesn’t add up
Where do the extra ten calories go?

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Language Of Confusion: -Solve/Solution, Redux

Solve showed up in the late fourteenth century as solven, and back then it meant to dissipate or loosen. Then in medicine, it started to mean dissolve a substance in a liquid, and then in the sixteenth century, it took on the more figurative meaning of to clear up or to answer. Finally, it meant to solve a math problem in 1737! Funny, right? Anyway, it comes from the Proto Indo European se-lu, from the word s(w)e-, which was actually a third person reflexive pronoun. And is also the origin of idiom. Basically, idiom came from the Greek idios, which came from the PIE swed-yo, which, drop the S, and yeah, that tracks.
 
Then there’s solvent, which is actually fairly recent, having shown up in the mid seventeenth century meaning to pay what you owe, and then a little later something that can dissolve something. Plus there’s solution, which showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning both the dissolving of something and an explanation. It’s from the Old French solucion and the classical Latin solutionem (bet you can’t guess what that means). That’s from the verb solvere, to solve or to dissolve, and that’s from se-lu.
 
Next, let’s look at some prefixed versions. Resolve showed up in the late fourteenth century, also meaning to melt or dissolve, and pretty much the same is true for resolution. How did it get to mean what we use it as? Well, first it meant to separate into components, and then to mentally separate into components, which led to resolve. Both words come from the classical Latin resolvere, to analyze or to loosen, with the re- prefix meaning back. To resolve is to solve back, which makes sense when you know that one of resolve’s meanings in the fifteenth century was to condense into a vapor. Basically, resolve meant dissolving something backwards.
 
Speaking of dissolve, it showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning to break up, meaning this one actually kept its definition. It’s from the classical Latin dissolvere, to dissolve, with dis- meaning apart here. To dissolve is to break apart. And the only one of the solve words to stick to its original meaning through the centuries.
 
Finally today, absolve showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning release, from the classical Latin absolvere, to acquit or set free. The ab- means off or away from, and with solvere meaning to loosen, absolving is loosening off, which sounds kind of nonsensical but does go with setting free. Absolute showed up in the late fourteenth century, meaning free from limitation, and from the Latin absolutus, a past participle of absolve. When you’re totally free, you’re absolute!
 
Sources
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
Omniglot
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language