Thursday, October 30, 2014

Language of Confusion: Animalia

Has anyone wondered why animals are called the things they are? No? Just me then?

Whatever. Here’s etymology of some common animals.

Cat comes from the Old English catt (why the extra T, Old English?), and before that the Proto Germanic kattuz, and earlier the Late Latin cattus. We also have the word feline, which didn’t show up in English until the late seventeenth century (historical fiction writers take note!). That comes from the Late Latin felinus and classical Latin feles, which just means cat. Apparently people liked the word cattus more than feles, which is why we call them cats instead of fels. Oh, and the reason we call baby cats kittens is because of French. Kitten showed up in the late fourteenth century, most likely coming from the Old French chitoun, which means little cat : ).

Dog comes from the Old English docga, an uncommon word that meant a powerful breed of canine. It replaced the previous word for the animal, hund, which we still use as hound. So originally, all dogs were hounds, coming from the Proto Germanic hundas, and further back than that, possibly the same Proto Indo European origin word as canine, kwon. Interestingly enough, canine only meant the tooth at first, not meaning dog until the mid-nineteenth century. It comes from the classical Latin caninus, which means dog or of dogs. So yes, it seems like the tooth was named because it looked like a dog’s tooth, and although it was a word for dog in Latin, English didn’t pick it up until sometime after the American Civil War. And the word puppy originally just meant a small lap dog. It showed up in the late fifteenth century, probably coming from the Middle French poupee, toy (and the origin word for puppet).

Rabbit is an interesting one. When it first appeared in the late fourteenth century, it only meant a baby coney, which was the word for rabbit up until the eighteenth century comes from the Walloon (that’s southern Belgium) word robète. What’s up with that word “coney”? Well, it comes from the usual Latin origin, where it’s the word cunilicus. It fell out of use because it happened to be a homophone of a rather unfortunate word in British English (I’m not getting more specific than that, but let’s just say the word used to rhyme with honey, not phony). But have you ever wondered why Coney Island in New York is named that? Now you know.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Random Thoughts

---Yes, Random Thoughts! And on a Tuesday! It’s because today my mom is going in for laser eye surgery, which, I’m disappointed to note, is done with lasers, not to turn your eyes into lasers. Anyway, I’m going to have to be driving her around this week, which means my presence will probably be sporadic. It also means I’m going to be hearing constant criticism about how I’m too hesitant a driver and I’m going too fast and I’m too close to that car and one of us isn’t going to survive this.
---There’s a lake in Tanzania that calcifies animals that fall into it. It basically instantly turns them into stones.
---Anyone else want to be dunked in there after they die? Preferably in a cool pose. Hell, what’s the point if you’re not in a cool pose?
---There’s no proof that MSG is actually bad for you. So go nuts with the Chinese food.
---Since human blood has a protein composition similar to eggs, it can be used as a substitute in baking and ice cream. So no worries, cannibals. You can still have your cake.
---You can’t unlearn that.
---Originally, the word strongest was “strengest”. Same goes for longest, which was once “lengest”. I weirdly like them better than strongest and longest.
---A woman set her roommate on fire because he threw out her leftovers. I’d also like to point out that he was letting her stay there after she lost her job. Apparently gratitude does not outweigh old spaghetti and meatballs.
---Bananas are all clones. Every single one has the exact same DNA. Can you imagine if one got some disease? It would kill all of them!
---Of course, the banana they all come from, the Banana Prime, if you will, is really just a mutant. Real bananas have pretty big seeds in them.
---The point here: bananas are all mutant clones.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Web

Yes, more bugs, because spiders are nothing if not nefarious.

Another totally true story.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Language of Confusion: Gests

Gest is a part of many words (it’s also a word by itself, something I didn’t know before this—it means a story or an exploit). It’s at the beginning of gesture and gestate, and at the end of suggest and digest. Plus there’s the word jest—are they related? Or is this going to be another one of those things where no one has any idea what anything means?

Probably the latter, but let’s see.

Gest and jest actually come from the same place, the Old French geste, which means an action. Further back in classical Latin, it’s gesta, which means events or deeds, and is related to gerere, which can mean wage, perform, or to carry. Okay, that kind of makes sense.

Gesture has a pretty similar lineage. It showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from the Medieval Latin gestura, bearing or behavior, and classical Latin gestus, which means gesture and is another version of gesta. Gestation showed up in the early sixteenth century (gestate didn’t come until over two centuries later!) and at first it meant…riding on horseback. Um, wow. The whole going-to-give-birth thing didn’t come until a century later. It turns out, both definitions kind of make sense. Gestation comes from the classical Latin gestationem (related to gerere), which means carrying. A horse carries a person and a person carries a baby, right?

Now, for the suffix -gest. Suggest showed up in the early sixteenth century from the classical Latin suggestus (pulpit) and suggere (bring). Suggestion actually came earlier, in the mid-fourteenth century, where it meant something like temptation. It comes from the Anglo French/Old French suggestioun and classical Latin suggestionem, which is pretty much just suggestion as we know it. It’s a mix of gest, carry, and the prefix sub-, meaning up (that might seem weird since sub- usually means beneath, but it really did used to mean up). So it means to carry up, in the sense of “bringing up an idea”. I’m not sure how evil got mixed into it, though.

Ingest is easy, showing up in the early seventeenth century from the classical Latin ingestus/ingerere, where it means to shower or heap upon. The in- prefix means “into” in this case. Since the literal translation would be something like “carry into”, I guess the Romans went figurative here.

Next is digest. Both the writing kind of digest and the food one showed up in the late fourteenth century, both coming from the Latin digestus, compiled, and digerere, which is just plain digest. That word is a mix of dis-, apart, and the carry from gerere, so to carry apart. That makes sense for digesting food, but it kind of seems like the opposite of a writing digest. But digestus means compiled, so…

Okay, maybe the next one will make more sense. Congest showed up in the early fifteenth century, where it meant “bring together”. It comes from the classical Latin congestus, compilation or heap, and congerere, store or bring together. The con- prefix is the together part, and with gerere it’s “carry together”, and since congestion is a bunch of stuff that’s brought together, it does make sense!

Is that all? Ha ha, no. Register is also a -gest word. It showed up in the late fourteenth century, from the Old French register and Medieval Latin registrum. That word comes from the classical Latin regesta/regestus (there’s the e!), which literally means thrown back. That of course comes from regerere, which can mean record or carry back (the re- means back, so they used this word both literally and figuratively).

Oh, and for the record, the word gist isn’t related to any of these. It actually comes from the same word as jet.

Whoa, that was a long one.

Dictionary of Medieval Latin

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Millions of Peaches

Last week, my cousin posted that he and his girlfriend found a cat outside their apartment. As it was a small apartment and they had two cats already, he was asking if anyone could take her. Obviously I had to say yes. Now bask in the cuteness.

My cousin named her Peaches, and that sounded good to me (although Pumpkin may be more appropriate given the month…well, I like peaches more than pumpkins). She’s already taken over my bed, and pretty much the rest of the house. I really don’t think the picture does justice to how fluffy that tail is. Her fur is mostly short-medium in length, until you get to the tail, which is as wide as the rest of the cat. She also has the most beautiful golden orange eyes.

Okay, I’ll shut up now, before I start rambling, which I most definitely will do if it’s about cats.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Cricket

Keeping in line with my (unintentional) theme of bugs and how gross and creepy they are, here’s another story about how gross and creepy they are. Or at least how stupid they are.

I tell you, that spider must have invited all his spider friends over and had a kick-ass party.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Language of Confusion: Victorious

Victory showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Anglo French/Old French victorie and classical Latin victoria, which means…victory. Where do these words come from? Anyway, victoria is the past participle of vincere, the origin word for victor (the n is dropped in some tense of the word for some reason). Vincere, to win, can be traced back to the ProtoIndo European word weik, fight or conquer (among other things; it’s a really common word).

This might surprise you, but the word victim does not seem to be related to victory. It showed up in the late fifteenth century specifically meaning a sacrifice (the more general meaning came about fifty years later). It comes from the classical Latin victima, where it had a similar connotation. And that’s it. No vincere, no weik, at least, not that I found. So maybe, maybe not.

The words that are related to victory actually have it in their suffixes. Convince is just vincere with con- in front of it, which makes it “conquer with”. Province is also a vincere word, the pro- meaning before, though no one’s sure exactly how that word’s supposed to make sense. The name Vincent also comes from vincere, and of course, so does the name Victor.

TL;DR: Victory isn’t related to any word that it makes sense for it to be related to.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Scare Time

I stumbled across this on Tumblr (ha, that’s almost a rhyme), and I’ve got to say, it’s pretty dang creepy. And since October is the month for creepiness, I figured I should share it with you guys. Fair warning, it’s about an hour long. It’s just an audio file of a teacher telling “The Kimberly Story” to a bunch of high school students (which is good, because it would scare the pants off anyone younger), so you can listen to it in the background while you do something else. But for maximum effect, I suggest waiting until dark and turning off the lights.

For those who don’t want to wait, the gist is this: back when he lived in Texas, a girl in his class disappeared. Then she came back. And then things go from weird to terrifying. Is it real? I don’t know. The things that happened certainly don’t seem like they could be. While it’s based on some actual events, most of it seems embellished. The keyword being “seems”. Either way, real or fake, it’s a damn scary story, perfect for this time of year.

Take a listen.

Then, since I assume you’ll be up for three days straight, you’ll have plenty of time to come back to the blog and share your thoughts.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Spider

Since last week we had the world’s most annoying fly, it’s time for the world’s scariest spider. Which is a misnomer since all spiders are the world’s scariest.

My iced tea has not had good luck lately.

And don’t ask where I got the torch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Secret Origins: T

T time!

Don’t you judge me.

T is one of the more stable symbols. If you look at the alphabet gif, you’ll see it’s always pretty much two intersecting lines. It’s funny because some versions of T are, well, on a slant. Latin’s parent alphabet, Etruscan, has similar weirdness with T, with some versions tilty and some with only one arm. I guess when there’s no computerized fonts (or even a printing press), it all depends on whoever’s writing it.

T is much more stable in Greek, where it’s always a T or in lowercase, τ. I guess when something’s not broke, you don’t fix it : ). The Phoenician consonant alphabet that gave birth to the Greek had a bit more variations, using a simple cross that looked like a + sign as well as another tilty T. Whatever it looked like, the symbol was called teth and it meant “mark”, as it was in the proto Sinaitic it was taken from.

Well, that was an easy one.

TL;DR: T’s pretty much always been T :P.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October Goals

Ugh, September. UGH!!! It started out bad and only managed to get worse from there. One of my cats got out of the house and never came back, and honestly I’ve been devastated about that. Then I got sick—me!—and that included double ear infections (you saw the comic) which made me feel like I constantly had cotton in my ears. You know what I do when I’m writing? Listen to music/television. You know what’s really hard to do with ear infections? Exactly that.

September Goals

1. Work on REMEMBER notes. I’d really prefer getting them all done, but…it’s not going to happen and no amount of goading myself will help, so I might as well be realistic and promise myself to do something.
Nope. Not a bit, which I’m disappointed in, but I was also depressed and unable to concentrate, so I should probably cut myself a little slack there…

2. Add 10K to the new WIP. Only ten because I really want to make some headway on those notes, and I figure it will be better not to over commit.
See above.

3. Work on making the stick figure comics a regular part of the blog. Honestly, I’m surprised how many people seem to enjoy them. I probably won’t be able to think of something funny every week, but maybe every other.
At least I managed to do this one…

This month’s goals are going to be modest…I just hope I do them this time…

October Goals

1. Work on, and preferably finish, REMEMBER notes. For real. Seriously.

2. Finish my non-writing side project (I don’t usually put these on the list, but I might actually be able to do this one).

3. More stick figure comics! You guys are weirdly easy to please.

All right, that’s it. Was your September a month of unending horror somehow still going on despite being over or did something good actually happen? What are your plans for October?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Language of Confusion: Greetings

We have a lot of ways to say greet each other, but let’s just stick with the basics, shall we?

It surprised me to find out that hello is very recent, only showing up in 1883, and gaining popularity because people decided they liked to use it to greet people on the telephone. It comes from a word we used to get people’s attention, hallo, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard in conversation. That word is also fairly recent, showing up in 1781 (anything with exact years attached to it has to be recent), although it had a variant, halow (no relation to hallow or hollow, by the way, although it did give us holler), that originated way back in the middle of the fifteenth century. Hallo itself comes from another word, holla (no, not as in “Everybody holla!”), which was a command to get people to stop before it morphed from “stop what you’re doing” to “stop and give me your attention” sometime in the late sixteenth century. Holla comes from the French word holá, which is basically the equivalent of “Whoa!”.

Hi first showed up in 1862 (man, what did people use to greet each other before then?). No one’s sure where it came from, but it’s possible that it’s a variant of a Middle English word, hy/hey, which was basically the same thing. It’s not related to hello even a little bit, another thing that surprised me.

Hey is relatively old, showing up in Middle English in the early thirteenth century. Back then it had a bunch of different variations with slightly different spellings and pronunciations, like hei and ai and heh, all of which was an interjection with a different connotation—one might mean sorrow, another might mean anger. Because if there’s one thing English needs, it’s emotionally specific words.

Wow. That was a quick one.