Thursday, November 29, 2018

Language of Confusion: -Fess

Time to fess up.

Confess showed up in the late fourteenth century (shortened as “fess” in 1840), coming from the Old French confesser, Vulgar Latin confessare, and classical Latin confess-. Now that’s from the verb form of confiteri, to acknowledge, a mix of the prefix com- (together) and fateri, to admit. So it’s “to admit together”? Fateri can also be traced back to the Proto Indo European bha-, to speak or say, which is a part of, like, a bunch of words. So many.

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 Latin professus, 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.

Profession is 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.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

From The Spamfiles

It’s the last Tuesday of November and I’m still so wiped out from Thanksgiving. So here’s some spam.

You guys used the wrong fake email address here.

Well, this is sketchy AF. Just the screenshot is enough to give my computer a virus.

Sext is a portmanteau of “sex” and “text”, so can one really get a sext via email? Because that’s not a text. It’s an email. WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME SO MUCH???

She lost 92 pounds after a tragedy… I mean… is she all right? Maybe someone should check on her, because that doesn’t seem like a good thing.

This can only end with me in a bathtub full of ice missing both kidneys.

The question mark is because it’s asking if the information contained within will prevent a heart attack in seven seconds. And the answer is no.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving Week Comics 1

I generally do something special over the week of Thanksgiving to celebrate (i.e. things I don’t have to put a lot of effort into) so here’s a bunch of one panel comics.
Like I’d let her get away with eating all the good stuff. That’s supposed to be my job.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


My sister’s landlord made her give up her cat ( :( ) so she gave it to my mom, who is pretty much the person you can give cats to.
 Most of the time the cats just sleep on the furniture. I mean, they are people after all.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Language of Confusion: Figs

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 French figure, 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 Latin figura, 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.

Figment showed up in the early fifteenth century from the classical Latin figmentum, figment or fiction, which is also derived from figura. Also, configure showed up in the late fourteenth century as to form or “to dispose in a certain form” because words are weird. It comes from the classical Latin configurare, to configure, a mix of the prefix con- (with or together) and figurare, to shape. To configure is to shape together. Which means reconfigure is to shape together again. Similarly, transfigure is trans- (across or beyond) + figurare, to shape beyond.

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.

We’ll get into those other words another time.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I Voted

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 for it.

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.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Language of Confusion: Foul

A relatively short one this week.

Foul showed up in Old English as ful, which means corrupt or impure (sometimes full was spelled that way, just to make things confusing). It comes from the Proto Germanic fulaz, which can be traced to the Proto Indo European pu-, 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.

And do you know what other words come from pu-? Pus, unsurprisingly. It showed up in the late fourteenth century from the classical Latin pus, pus (eye roll). Also related is putrid, which showed up in the early fifteenth century from the Latin putridus, bad or rotten, from the verb putere, to stink.

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”.

Laziness! It’s how language evolves!

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November Goals

Less than two months left in the year. How did this happen? What was I even supposed to do last month?

October Goals
1. Start with the beta reads. And as a corollary, don’t have a panic attack from the beta reads.
I 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 to be.

2. Figure out if I’m ready to start a new WIP.
Considering I started it, the answer would have to be yes.

3. Try to distract myself from the beta reading/imminent doom.
Kind of unnecessary.

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:

November Goals
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)?

Saturday, November 3, 2018


Seriously, how are these passing inspection? They need to do something about those brakes.
It even woke Veronica up and she’s going a bit deaf in her old age.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Language of Confusion: Atomic

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, indivisible.

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 European ei-, 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.