It’s the last Thursday
of the year, and as always I’m looking at words in a slightly different
fashion. This year: words that I will never know how to spell. Come on, it’s in
the post title.
Heads up: having
French genes does not make you able to spell French words (I guess linguistics
can’t be passed down that way). Also, why the hell is this word so freaking
hard to get right?! Seriously, what is with French and letters? “Let’s throw an
O in there!” “Shall we pronounce it?” “No, what are you, crazy?”
I think it’s the
S and the C in this one that really screw me up. This is why I hate the letter
C. It’s so pointless. It’s designed to make you not know how to use it. Is it
pronounced? Silent? A K sound? An S? A ch?
I suppose that
this might be embarrassing to admit, but I always forget either the L or the F.
It’s all those consonants in a row! Sometimes it seems like the F isn’t even vocalized,
and I know there’s a linguistic word for that although I can’t think of it off
the top of my head and don’t feel like looking it up.
I am just always
convinced there’s an A in there somewhere. Secretary uses the same vowel
pronunciations but has an A in the end. Why not cemetary? I mean cemetery. I
just did it again. Not making this up. I totally spelled it wrong in my post
about spelling it wrong as I’m looking at the correct spelling of the word.
I never remember
that there are two N’s. Or sometimes I spell it with the two N’s, but only one
L. I will never, ever get it right on the first try unless I look it up.
So that’s all I
can think of, but what about you? What words do you never get right?
It’s Christmas, but it’s also the
last Tuesday of the year and obviously
it’s more important for me to stick to my schedule than put up a filler post. I
mean, have you met me? Sticking to schedules is what I do.
If this year was any rougher I’d be
in court pointing to where it hurt me on a doll. Saying it was better than last
year is like saying being stabbed is better than being shot. I’d rather not
Anyway, this is what I had planned
for the year:
1. Figure out
some way to better keep track of my goals and resolutions. I used to use a
sticky note on my desktop, but I hate it looking cluttered…
I went back to the sticky note. I guess it’s not the worst.
It does help me remember what I should be doing.
2. Write a new
I’m more than halfway done with the first draft, so it’s
finish a book this year!
I didn’t, although not for lack of trying. I worked really
hard to get it to the point where it could have beta readers, and there are
still a million things I have to do with it!
4. Once again,
try to eat better. Cut back on sugar, and whatnot.
Takeover/destroy the world. Which it’ll be will probably depend on my mood.
It’s probably a good thing for people that I’m too lazy to
get off my ass and do this, because it definitely would have been destroy.
something fun to do in my spare time. I need more fun. We all need more fun.
Meh, kind of. I bought new games to play. That counts.
something every day. Well, at least this will be easy.
Pretty close to it, yeah.
I guess it was a
successful year in terms of writing, but that’s where it ends. What a nightmare
2018 has been. Wake me when the revolution begins because I’m going to go sleep
Have a nice holiday! Or Tuesday, if that’s what you’re celebrating.
This will probably be the last real
etymology post of the year. Enjoy it!
Pie showed up in the mid fourteenth century, or maybe even
older than that because in the twelfth century there was a thing called a piehus that meant bakery. It comes from
Latinpie, which was meat or fish
enclosed in a pastry instead of delicious baked fruit. It might be related to
the Medieval Latin pia, which meant
pie or pastry, but you know how words can be weirdly not related at times. It
also might be related to pica, which
means… magpie. Which was once just called pie in English. So that answers that question that no one thought to ask.
Cookie showed up in the early eighteenth century from Scottish, but back then it meant a plain bun and it’s not actually sure
that it’s related to what we know as a cookie. It wasn’t that until 1808, and
that was actually taken from the Dutch koekje,
little cake, which is from koke, their
word for cake. Speaking of which…
Pudding showed up in the fourteenth century meaning,
get this, a kind of sausage. We didn’t use it to mean a pudding like we know it
until 1670, when it started to mean other foods that were “boiled or steamed in
a bag or sack”. Which sounds pretty nasty to me. Pudding might be from the West
Germanic pud-, to swell, or the Old Frenchboudin, sausage, but it’s another one
that no one is really sure about.
Fun fact, in the sixteenth century brownie
meant a “benevolent goblin supposed to haunt old farmhouses in Scotland”. It
wasn’t until 1897 that it actually meant a brownie.
We don’t have a real explanation as to why, but I’m assuming it’s because it’s
Obviously there’s a lot more besides
these, but they’ll have to wait for another time. Go list your favorite delicious
baked good in the comments!
It’s last in the sense that it’s the
last spam posts I put up on my Tumblr, but hopefully not the last ever. I’d
like to find some way to continue it. Mostly because I have just so much more left on my hard drive and
I’d feel really stupid for collecting it if I didn’t at least post it.
Spot the Red Flags!
1. They call me “customer”, when
these places always call you by the name on your account.
2. “…your payment information we
hold on record” sounds off, like they didn’t quite get the translation right.
3. They forgot to capitalize the
name of their company. Even if it was only once, that is suspicious as hell.
4. The most obvious: my Netflix
account is not connected to that email address.
If I’m fed up with fake dating,
somehow I don’t think your website is going to help me.
The secret to managing your blood
sugar: putting spaces between every letter in every sentence.
Honestly, I have the opposite
problem. If I tried this stuff I’d go full yeti.
Look at this totally super real new follower I got on
Twitter! Not a single thing weird about it, from the
series of weird numbers after the name, to the fact that his name is “Gonzalez
Jonathan” instead of “Jonathan Gonzalez”, to the fact that he has “sugar baby” as
the only words in his profile.
It wouldn’t be spam if there wasn’t
at least one cancer widow. Granted, she doesn’t actually say that she has
cancer or that she’s a widow, but the spirit is there.
Honestly, I might be doing this one
because I’m cold. So very cold.
I actually did fire already, but it
was one of the first etymology posts I ever did and focused more on the
difference between fire and fiery and why they’re stupidly spelled so different.
I already explained the spelling thing in my other post, but here’s a
refresher: it wasn’t spelled fire until the thirteenth century at the earliest,
and before that it was spelled fier. For some reason the spelling changed for
that, but not for the adjective version of the word, because words are weird.
Fire comes from the Old Englishfyr, which
was pronounced the same way anyway. Before
that it was the Proto
Germanicfur and Proto Indo Europeanperjos, from the root paewr, which also means fire,
as well as egni-, another word for
fire. Yes, they had two. One was for “inanimate” fire, one was for “animate”
fire. I’m not really sure how you distinguish them, but that’s why we have the
words fire, pyro, and ignite.
But there are other words to look
at. Flame has a completely separate origin, coming from the Middle
Englishflaume (noun) and flaumen (verb). The words are from the Anglo
Frenchflaume/flaumbe or flaumer/flamber, hence the word flambé,
and come from the classical Latin flammula,
from the Proto Indo European bhel-,
shine, flash or burn, and origin of
words like black and bleach and just so many others. Such as blaze, which comes from the Old English
blaese, a flame or blast, from the
Proto Germanic blas, which was taken
from bhel- also.
Maybe you’ve heard about this, maybe
you haven’t. Tumblr was dropped from Apple’s app store for the appearance of
child porn on their website and as a result they decided to ban all adult
content (although in fact this had been brewing for a while, the Apple thing
just prompted them to do it sooner).
While getting rid of child porn is dear god always
a good thing, keep in mind that this website has a TON of users who have been
advocating for child abuse and Tumblr has done nothing—nothing—to stop them. People report them all the time and nothing
happens! No bans, no deletions. But the second Apple snaps its fingers, uh-oh,
better ban all adult content because that will also somehow double their user
base. I’m not making that up. They think that’s how it will work. It’s been
likened to Thanos’s snap in Infinity Wars due to both how arbitrary it hits
people and how ineffective it is in achieving the professed goal.
As someone who has actually been on
Tumblr, I know for a fact that there are a huge amount of porn bots. They’re
like, half my followers. I don’t really care because I’m not stupid enough to
engage them and frankly, they’re spam, and that’s literally what my blog is about. But in Tumblr’s pervious attempt to curb the
porn bots and adult content, literally nothing happened to them. But you know
what does happen? Click here for an example of the posts that get flagged. Yeah. Not porn. Not adult.
And go take a look at Tumblr’s
announcement about what’s no longer going to be allowed after December 17. First
of all, female presenting nipples? So does this mean that if the nipples have mustaches, they’re okay? Or is it
just an excuse to be able to single out trans people easier? Spoiler alert, it’s the latter.
LGBTQA+ people already get flagged for “adult content” all the time so you can
bet this so called algorithm is going to screw them over even more, and this is
especially bad considering that Tumblr was a major place where they connected
and shared with each other. But you know what isn’t banned or restricted on
Tumblr at all? White supremacists. You can’t find any boobs and the chronic pain tag is banned, but want to kill
all POC? Go right ahead.
For the kids, right?
I’m bummed about this. I generally enjoyed my time on there. It kept me
up to date on the freshest of memes. So what’s going to happen to the Spamfiles
after December 17. I don’t know, but I don’t think it’ll be on Tumblr anymore. It
does occasionally mention sex after all. What a sad way to end the year.
I must confess: I don’t actually
like coffee. I think it’s been twenty years since I last had a cup. But then my
mom’s coffee maker broke.
She did order a new one anyway,
which was good because the old one didn’t sound quite right. But she at least
got to have her morning coffee until it got there.
Oh, and that absolutely was her
response when I told her it worked for me. The only difference is that it was
by text, not voice, and definitely wasn’t censored. It’s just easier to convey
that way in comic form.
We’re going on seven months since
the last time I did one of these. How appropriate.
As a word, seven comes from the Old Englishseofon, which in spite of the f was
pronounced pretty much the same way. It
comes from the Proto
Germanicsebum and Proto Indo Europeanseptm, which also meant seven in spite
of the fact that a b and a p are very obviously not a v or an f. No idea why
they changed. They just did, and you can see it in words like September, not to
mention the replacement of the s with an h in the prefix hepta- (you can thank
Greek for that).
As for the numeral, the earliest
version is the Brahmi version,
which actually looks quite similar to our seven. In Hindu it looked a lot more like a 6 lying on its back, and then the Arabic
version is like a v. When the numeral system migrated to Europe, a lot of
different places used different versions of numbers, so it could look like a v
or y a 7 depending on where you were. Which makes sense. It’s not like they
were constantly connected to the internet back then. Places could go years or
decades without interacting with each other. Who would have thought to standardize
The other fess
word is profess, which showed up in the early fourteenth century meaning to take a religious vow. Obviously it’s related to profession, but will
get into that later. It’s also related to the Old French profess and before that the Medieval
Latinprofessus, avowed. It’s
related to the classical Latin profiteri,
which could mean volunteering, profess, profession, acknowledge, or make a
public statement of. The pro- is from per-, meaning forth, and with fateri, it would be something like “to admit forth”. Which makes sense
for the public statement thing, but not so much the other definitions.
even older than profess, having shown up in the thirteenth century.
Although back then, it meant the “vows taken upon entering a religious order”,
coming from the Old French profession
and classical Latin professionem. It
didn’t mean someone’s occupation until the fifteenth century in the sense of an
“occupation one professes to be skilled in”. Saying you have a profession is
publically claiming you have skill in something. And professor showed up in the
late fourteenth century meaning a
teacher of a branch of knowledge, coming from the Old French professeur and classical Latin professor (leave it to French to add
extra letters). The etymology dictionary doesn’t specifically say why professor
became another word for teacher, but I’d guess that a professor is someone who
is professing so much skill at something that they can teach it. Kind of ironic
since the one thing I’ve found professors to suck at is teaching.
Figure showed up in the thirteenth century, first just
meaning a number and then a century later meaning the image of a person, and
also the verb form. Although again, initially the verb didn’t mean what we know
it as (as in, to figure something out). It used to just to represent, then make
a likeness of. It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that it meant “picture
in the mind”, and then not until 1833 was it used in math. It comes from the Old Frenchfigure, which could mean shape or
body, the form of a word, or a symbol. Funny how initially only one of those
definitions was used in English. Anyway! Before that, it comes from the classical Latinfigura, shape or figure,
which is related to figurare, to shape or figure and from the Proto Indo European root dheigh-, form or build. Which is where we get the other words we’re looking at today.
There are a bunch of other words
that are descended from dheigh-. Effigy is ex- (out) plus fingere, another word that also means form or shape. Feign,
feint, fiction… But not significant. Which is from sign.
This isn’t a political post. I try
to stay away from that stuff on my blog as I find it too depressing. This is
just a story of an actual thing that happened to me when I went to vote.
Let me set the scene: I went up to
the table where they made me show them my license (an evil
practice) and sign in. I sign my name, take my license back. And…
Lady: Oh! You used cursive.
Me: It’s just a signature.
L: You never see cursive these days.
Me: That’s because there’s no use
L: Well… what if you have to read it?
Me: I’ve literally never had to do
that. Everything is digital these days anyway.
L: But… what if you went to
Washington DC? You’d have to read it then.
Me: …I can’t imagine a scenario
where I’d actually have to read something in cursive. Like, ever. Even DC has
to be digital these days. It’s the only way to survive.
Finally she shut up and gave me my
ballot so I could get the hell out of there. Seriously, what is with people
clinging to this useless, dead writing system like its ubiquitous and we’re
harming ourselves by not using it? I am not exaggerating when I say I’ve never
had to read cursive since I was forced to learn it in the third grade. There
are people who worship cursive like it’s some sort of deity.
Well, it’s not. It’s illegible,
pointless, and obsolete. Deal with it.
And if I’m going to DC, I’m going to
be bashing in skulls, not reading.
Foul showed up in Old Englishas ful,
which means corrupt or impure (sometimes
full was spelled that way, just to make things confusing).
It comes from the Proto
Germanicfulaz, which can be
traced to the Proto Indo
Europeanpu-, rot or decay. And
one theory is that that word is echoic, as in, people would make that sound
when smelling something bad, so it became a word.
Filth is also related, being derived
from foul. It was fylþ
in Old English (meaning it was pronounced the same as filth) and meant dirt, and that word was taken from ful. It’s also an example of what’s called
i-mutation, which is when
people get lazy with pronouncing the o/u sound and start pronouncing it e/i. So
instead of “foulth” we say “filth”.
Less than two months left in the
year. How did this happen? What was I even supposed to do last month?
1. Start with the beta reads. And as
a corollary, don’t have a panic attack from the beta reads.
actually didn’t do this because everyone I knew was busy or vanished somewhere
into the aether of the internet. The blog-o-sphere isn’t as active as it used
2. Figure out if I’m ready to start
a new WIP.
I started it, the answer would have to be yes.
3. Try to distract myself from the
beta reading/imminent doom.
Seriously, the beta thing was such a
bust. There are like three people who owe me reads who are just plain gone.
Plus the last time I did this, there was still a lot of those blog events
people hosted where you could find a bunch of like-minded people to exchange
stories with. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen one of those.
The above is kind of feeling like a
big old pile of excuses, so let’s just move on to next month:
1. Keep searching for beta readers.
2. Get up to 40K on my new WIP
(already at about 18K, so this is certainly possible).
3. <shudder> Thanksgiving.
So that’s what I want to do this
month. What are you up to? Want to do some beta reading (you can email me here)?
This week’s post is inspired by Liz,
who gave me a suggestion to etymologize the word nuclear over a month ago that
I’m just now getting around to.
Nuclear showed up in 1841,
although it didn’t have to do with physics until 1914. Back in the nineteen
hundreds, it just meant related to the nucleus of the cell and it was created
by mixing nucleus with the word forming suffix -ar, which means “pertaining to”
or “of the nature of” (the word nuclear itself was probably influenced by the
French word nucléaire). So the word
is pertaining to the nucleus. But what is nucleus?
Nucleus showed up in 1704 meaning, get this, the kernel of a nut and a few years later the head of a
comet. It’s directly copies from the classical Latin word nucleus, which literally means a kernel or
core and is from nux, which means… a nut. Did cells remind them of nuts or
something? And then that got transferred to atomic particles? And now we’re
left with a word that I will never be able to read again without thinking “nuclear
kind of means ‘nutty’”?
Speaking of atomic, atom showed up
in the late fifteenth century,
where it was only a hypothetical, indivisible, extremely small body. And they
turned out to be right about everything except it being indivisible, so good
job, fifteenth century scientists. It comes from the classical Latin atomus, which meant atom or an
indivisible amount, and the Greek atomos, indivisible. The a- is a prefix
that means not and tomos meant “a cutting”, from temnein,
to cut. So it seems that atoms were named for the one thing that they’re not,
Next, ion. It was
introduced in 1834 and
taken from the Greek ion. Which means
ion. But that’s from the word ienai, go, from the Proto Indo Europeanei-, to go, which is one of those word
pieces that shows up in a lot of stuff.
Ion also forms the back half of electron and proton, the names of which were
made up in 1891 and 1920, respectively. Electron is just
electric + ion, but proton actually comes from the Greek word proton, from protos, first (it’s where the prefix proto- comes from).
A proton was (back then) thought to be made of Hydrogen, the first element,
because back in the 1920’s they theorized that it made up all elements. Much
like with atom, they turned out to be wrong, but the name stuck because scientists
are nothing if not obdurate when it comes to names.
It’s the day before Halloween, you’d
think I’d have something spooky up, but I couldn’t think of anything good so
here you go. If you really want something scary, just read a newspaper. I’ve
been finding those pretty terrifying lately.
Dirty, filthy things like using a 0
in place of an O.
Charlina Mcdona… great name or greatest name?
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten
an email from a cancer widow (or a ‘long time illness’ widow). I love how she
misspells her own name.
Apparently general managers are
taking care of unsubscribe requests personally.
Certified mail by email! Yes that’s
a thing! Shut up.
Got to say, I’m nervous about hang
being in quotes. I mean, hang is more commonly used in its figurative sense
these days, which is usually what something being in quotes implies. I fear
that in this case, the quotes indicate that it is being used in the literal
sense, and I’m going to end up hanging from a belt if I reply.
If you want another example of that
f-v thing, then you can also look at devil, which was deofol/deoful in Old
English. Except that word came to English via a completely different route. It
was diabolus in Late Latin and diabolos in Greek, from the word diaballein, which
actually meant to slander, attack, or throw across. Seriously, the ballein meant to throw and dia means
Wow, some words sure do change.
Wicked showed up in the thirteenth century, although in
the twelfth century they had wick,
which meant the same thing. It’s thought to be from the Old English wicca, witch,
and interestingly enough was a past participle without a verb (that means that
wick was also always past tense, too).
showed up in the fourteenth century,
as a verb before it was a noun. It actually didn’t even mean treat in the sense
we know it as but as negotiate, or bargain—you know, like would be related to
treaty. It wasn’t until the
seventeenth century that it was something special that you gave someone, and
who knows why that was. But the word comes from the Old Frenchtraitier, deal with or act towards,
which is thought to be related to tract.
But not like a tract of land, which is something completely different. Instead
it was related to a tract that meant treatise,
and is thought to be related to the classical Latintractatus, treatment,
and tractare, to treat.
Man, this was a weird journey.
showed up in the late thirteenth century specifically meaning crystallized sugar. It comes from the Old French çucre
candi, sugar candy. So where does candy come from? It’s one of the rare
words English stole from Arabic, where it’s qandi,
from the Persian qand, meaning cane
sugar. And that one’s thought to be from the Sanskrit khanda, piece of sugar. So the word for candy comes from somewhere
in the Middle East/Africa and we should thank them for that.
Sweet comes from
the Old Englishswete, which means, well, sweet.
It comes from the Proto
Germanicswotja, which is traced
all the way back to the Proto
Indo Europeanswad-, sweet or
pleasant. I’m not even a little surprised that we can trace this word so far
And now for my
personal favorite, chocolate. It showed up in the seventeenth century from the Mexican Spanish chocolate,
which I’m assuming just means chocolate. Why am I specifying that it’s Mexican
in origin? Well, because chocolate is American (like, the continent). It comes
from the Nahuatlchocola-tl/cacahua-tl, which refers to chocolate and cocoa beans, with the a-tl part meaning water. It’s origins
beyond there are murky, although it might be related to the word xocalia, which means “to make something
bitter”, and chocolate in its natural state is supposed to be very bitter. But
then you add sugar and it becomes just the best thing ever.