Thursday, September 29, 2016

Secret Origins: Two

More numbers! How fun!

Two the word comes from Old English, where there are actually different versions of it: twa, the feminine form and twegen, the masculine version. Boy, am I glad English lost the gendering of words. It’s annoying enough without it. Both versions come from the Proto Germanic twa, so I guess we know what version is the real version. Before that, it was the Proto Indo European duwo/dwo. Which then gave a ton of other languages their word for two as well.

So that’s the word. What about the character?

There were forms of counting in lots of primitive cultures, but India seems to have been the first place to use a unique symbol to represent a number. The Hindu 2 actually looks remarkably similar to ours—maybe it’s a bit curlier. One theory for why it looks the way it does is that originally it was two dashes (like a = sign) and people writing it started connecting the two bars because it was easier. Think about it. Try writing out a = sign, but don’t take your pen off the surface when you’re moving between the two bars. It looks like a Z, which looks like a 2. Yes, laziness may have given us the symbol.

That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

From The Spamfiles

More spam! Yay? Yay.

One of the bots following me on Twitter. Well, they’re not wrong. There are a lot of fraudulent accounts.

He’s a man of PEACE. He wants to SHARE this money with me.

Psychic Chris must have found me using his mind powers!

A flashlight that can penetrate concrete walls. It must have been invented by a supervillain because I can’t even imagine how that would work.

Always get your security system from someone who uses underscores instead of spaces. Spaces are the tools of liars.

I just love the…names? words? whatever in this one. Olwen Demetria! Edgard stay! Dufour bardette Rachel! Maybe saying them is what causes heart attacks. Or summons Cthulhu.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Language of Confusion: Directions

How about directions? I haven’t done that before, have I? [Checks etymology list] Nope!

North comes from the Old English norÞ and since that Þ is the th sound (why doesn’t it still have its own letter?!), that means the word is just north. Before that, it was the Proto Germanic nurtha, and it’s theorized that nurtha comes from the Proto Indo European ner-, which means left. Because which way is north when you’re looking at the sun rise?

South has a very similar story, coming from the Old English suð (south, of course). For those who don’t know, that ð is another letter for the th sound (used to have two; now we have zero -_-), but Þ sounds more like the th in the (try not to be too confused by that sentence) and ð is more like the th in math. Anyway, suð comes from the Proto Germanic sunthaz, which is thought to mean “sun side”—and that ­sun is where sun comes from. No explanation as to why south is the sunny side, though. Maybe it has to do with the angle of the sun at certain times of year or something.

East comes from the Old English east which means…east. I guess there hasn’t been many changes in recent years. It comes from the Proto Germanic aust-, which literally meant “towards the sunrise”, and is from the Proto Indo European aus-, to shine. Which the sun does do when it comes up in the morning. While you’re trying to sleep. Weirdly enough, aus- is related to ausus-, dawn, which gave us the classical Latin word auster, which means a southern wind. Seriously. What the hell.

Much like North and South are similar, so are East and West. West comes from the Old English west which means (brace yourself!) west. And before that, it was the Proto Germanic west-. So there’s even less change in this one. Even the Proto Indo European word it comes from isn’t that different: wes-, which in turn comes from a phrase wes-poro-, which means evening. In other words, when the sun sets.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The other day, I was sad to discover that I can’t find one of my old stories. Remember how last week one of my goals was to look through old projects? This was the one I was intending to revise this month.

But it’s gone. I don’t know when this happened. I absolutely backup all the stories that I intend to keep, but somehow this one got left out, although I don’t know when. Possibly when the AC adapter on my last computer crapped out—which, if true, means it still exists on a computer I can no longer turn on. Or it could have happened even earlier than that, when aforementioned computer needed to be reset and I lost a bunch of files (although I can swear I’ve seen it since then).

It all really sucks because I liked it a lot. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo back in…2010? I think that’s it. I’m pretty sure it was the one I wrote right after I started this blog. It reached the 50K mark to win, but most of that was filler that I ended up cutting, so I think the final word count was around 35K. I never really knew what to do with it, but I figured I could take a look at it. Inspiration could strike and I could expand it into a proper novel.

Except, you know, it’s gone. So many parts of it are still clear in my head, so I could completely reboot it, but it won’t be what it was. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, since I’m a more experienced writer now. But even so, it wouldn’t be the same.

Anyway, I’m bummed about that. Have you ever lost any of your stories? Or anything else important? What did you do about it?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Like A Snow Globe

A few weeks ago, my vacuum broke. The hose literally unraveled, like a slinky or something. It made cleaning up all the cat hair…difficult.

Cat hair, especially for long haired cats, is very fine and light. It’s really tough to clean up without a vacuum. Really tough.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Language of Confusion: -Scend

Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to run out of words to etymologize. I guess it depends on how long this blog lasts. But if I do run out of words, then yeah, I’m going to have to end it.

Anyway! Here’s words that end in -scend!

Hey! That rhymed!

Ascend first showed up in the late fourteenth century, which was after ascension but three centuries before ascent. It comes from the classical Latin ascendere, to climb up, a mix of the prefix ad-, to, and scandere, which also means climb. Isn’t it funny how scandere looks like scan with -dere stuck at the end? Ha ha, that’s because that’s where scan comes from. Apparently the reason we have scan is because Late Latin started using scandere as a poetic term—when it showed up in English, it originally meant “to mark off verse in metric feet”. And somehow from there we got scan in the visual sense.

Don’t ask me, I have no idea. Just except it.

Descend follows a similar pattern: both it and descent showed up in the fourteenth century, and descension showed up later, in this case the early fifteenth century (not that descension is a word anymore!). Descend came to us via the Old French descender and classical Latin descendere, which is just descend or down. The de- gives us the down part and the scendere is climb, like with ascend. So descend: climb down. Yay! One makes sense!

Then of course there’s condescend, which is just descend with another prefix. It showed up in the mid fourteenth century from the Old French condescendere, which actually meant agree or yield. Before that it was the Late Latin condescendere, to let yourself down. (Really?) The com- prefix means together here, and combined with descendere it means climb down together…I can’t tell if it makes sense or if my brain is hemorrhaging.

Finally, there’s transcend, which showed up in the mid fourteenth century from the Old French transcendre, surpass. It comes from the classical Latin transcendere, which means things like transcend or exceed. Trans- means beyond, and with scandere as climb, it’s climb beyond. Well, it makes way more sense than condescend.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Blogiversary

As of this Thursday, I’ve been doing this blog for six years. It’s weird because it really doesn’t feel that long. Two or three years, tops. But time seems to be going by a lot faster these days, so maybe that’s the reason why.

When I look back on my first posts, I totally cringe. I had no idea what I was doing, I swear! Back then, I posted every day, usually about whatever was on my mind at that particular time. Which means a lot of in depth posts on the minutia of writing and other really stupid things. No etymology! No stick figures! Just blathering. Lots and lots of blathering.

If I could go back in time…well, I’d totally warn myself about the total sh!tstorm the world was going to turn into in 2016. But if I could go back in time an only warn myself about blogging related stuff, I’d tell myself “Seriously, maybe don’t write down every thought that’s in your head. You know what people like? Cat pictures. Also stick figure comics for some reason.” Hindsight, amiright? I suppose the blog wouldn’t be what it was if it hadn’t gone through that awkward growth, but man. Embarrassing.

Six years. If this blog were a kid, it would be in school by now. It would also be that weird kid that no one can figure out what the hell they’re talking about. And the name! I’m going to be honest: I went with Still Writing… because I am really, really bad with names. It was literally all I could come up with after several hours of mulling it over. Now I’m kind of stuck with it. Why do names have to be so hard???

So I guess that’s all for this year’s reflections. I think I’ll take my own advice and shut up and leave you with a cat picture.

Yes, her mouth is open in that pic. She’s so classy.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


As I’ve mentioned before, my brother lives in Japan, which is thirteen hours ahead of us. So while I’m at my mom’s watching a movie with her one evening, it’s already the next morning for him and he’s awake and at work doing…I don’t know. Ship stuff. Whatever they do in the Navy. The point is, he had way too much free time this particular day.
He spent the entire time making stuff up just to drive her nuts. He’s like another version of her, except one that she’s forced to put up with.

The irony was lost on her.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Language of Confusion: Graded

I know it must have been hard to go two weeks without a new etymology post, but don’t worry. It’s over now.

Grade showed up relatively recently, first in the early sixteenth century as a noun that had to do with the level/angle of something. Then in the mid seventeenth century, it morphed from that to a verb which meant “to arrange in grades (i.e. levels)”, which is why in the early nineteenth century it turned into “class of things having the same quality or value”. That then morphed into a division of a school curriculum, which may have then turned into the grade a student receives on a piece of work. Meanwhile, the original grade morphed into being just the angle of a road, which is barely used today. Funny what sticks and what doesn’t.

But there’s more to the history. The original grade comes from the modern French grade, which means…grade. Look, they can’t all be huge changes. That grade comes from the classical Latin gradus, which means steps or levels, which comes from gradi, stride and gressus, step or walking. That word in turn comes from the Proto Indo European ghredh, to walk. So, grade is step, in pretty much every definition of the word.

That step/walk definition is present in all the other permutations of the word. Degrade (which actually showed up way before grade, in the late fourteenth century), comes from the Old French degrader, degrade, a mix of the prefix dis-, down, and gradus, step. So you’re stepping down someone. Yeah, I see it.

The other grade words aren’t very complex either. Upgrade, which showed up in 1847, is up + grade—step up. Ditto with downgrade—although that originally meant downward slope, something actually still in use. Then the retro- in retrograde means backwards, which is why retrograde tends to refer to things moving back the way they came.

What’s really interesting is all the other places grade has showed up that you might not be aware of. Graduation? From gradus. Gradient? Probably related (but maybe not). Degree? Yep, that’s in there too. Regress? Digress? Progress? All are from gradus. So someday I’ll have to etymologize all the -gress words now, too.

University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Goals

Ugh, it’s September. Ugh, I have to go back to work. UGGGGGGHHHHHHH.

Whatever. Goals and stuff.

August Goals
1. Start a new cross-stitching pattern. Hopefully it won’t take as long as the last one did.
I ended up deciding not to because it gets so exhausting staring at a screen after a long day of staring at a screen. Oh well.

2. Write something fun that I enjoy writing!
Yay I had some fun writing this month!


Okay, now what month is this? Oh, right. September.

September Goals
1. Get back into the grind. Ugh.

2. Look through some of my old stories and see if they need any work done.

3. My blogiversary! That should give me an excuse to goof off.

So that’s what I want to do this month. What about you? What are you up to?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vacation Cat Pics 3

Look at someone all tucked in!

This actually happened while I was making my bed. She climbed in as I’m trying to pull up the sheets and she wouldn’t move. So I just pulled them up over her and she stayed like that for several hours.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Vacation Cat Pics 2

More Peaches! She’s very photogenic.

Not to be outdone, Veronica also had to try the box.

She had a somewhat harder time fitting in it.