Thursday, October 31, 2019

Language Of Confusion: Gourd-geous

Shut up, I’m proud of that name.

Since it’s Halloween (!!!), why not look at the origin of the word pumpkin, and other gourds that pop up this time of year?

First of all, gourd itself showed up in the fourteenth century from the Anglo French gourde and Old French coorde, which can then be traced to the classical Latin cucurbita, which just means gourd or pumpkin. It’s origin before there is unknown, although some people think it might be related to the word for cucumber: cucumis. Spelling-wise that makes sense, but the first lesson you should learn about etymology is that it never makes sense.

Pumpkin itself showed up in the mid seventeenth century, although it did appear in English before that as pompone/pumpion. No K though. It comes from the Middle French pompon and classical Latin pepon, watermelon. They of course took that from the Greek pepon, which means melon, and is thought to be related to peptein, to cook, descended from the Proto Indo European pekw-, cook or ripen. This one makes even less sense than usual.

Now, squash. Like the food, not what you do to something. Because those aren’t related at all. Remember what I said about etymology making no sense? See, the gourd showed up in the mid seventeenth century, coming from the Narraganset askutasquash, “the things that may be eaten raw”. It’s just a coincidence that it happens to be the same as squashing something, although I’m sure the fact that it was already a word in English helped people decide to just call that type of gourd a “squash”.

Finally today, zucchini showed up fairly recently, in the early twentieth century. It’s from the Italian zucchino, zucchini, from zucca, which means… pumpkin. We’ve come full circle.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Pre-Halloween spam!

Erasmo wants to tell Greg the thruth!

What even are those emojis? Like the first one… okay maybe they’re hands. I’m not really sure. But the second one? It looks like Pac-Man throwing up after a long night of drinking. I have no idea what that’s supposed to be.

Gasp! Not unmatched details!

In order to respect terms and conditions, I have to confirm “wither” I’m a subscriber. I’m sure if I click no, they’ll never bother me again.

Wow. I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong you are.

Danial Daniels. A name that was definitely not made up at the last minute and then spelled wrong.

May you will be a weekly winner.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It Does Now

Every year I get huge spider webs outside my house, and there’s usually a huge spider to go along with them.
Frankly, it’s a justified fear.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Language of Confusion: Crazy

Because… something.

Craze showed up in the late fourteenth century as a verb meaning to shatter, crush, or break into pieces, and not meaning insane until a century later, which is also when craze showed up as a noun (meaning to break down in health). Fun fact, the “break into pieces” definition really only survives in the term “crazy quilt”, a quilt made up of random pieces of fabric. As to why it was made a term for mental health… well, going crazy really does seem like a shattering of the mind. As for the origin of craze, no one really knows except that it might be Germanic or possibly Scandinavian (the Old Norse word for shatter is krasa). It also appeared in Old French as crasir, which exists in Modern French as écraser, to crush.

Fanatic showed up in the mid sixteenth century meaning insane person, coming from the classical Latin fanaticus, which generally just means fanatic. It’s from the word fanum, temple, and related to festus, holiday. Basically, if you were fanatical about something, you took celebrating it way too far. It’s also the probable origin of the word fan—as in, a fan of something—although that showed up in 1889 as a word for baseball enthusiasts.

Next today, eccentric. It showed up in the early fifteenth century as an old astronomy term meaning a “circle or orbit not having the Earth precisely at its center”. It actually didn’t mean an odd person until 1817! It comes from the Middle French eccentrique and Medieval Latin eccentricus, from the Greek ekkentros. That word was meant as the opposite of concentric (having the same center) and is a mix of ek—out—and kentroncenter. Eccentric is off of center.

I’m sure you’re all aware that lunatic is related to the moon. It’s kind of obvious. But let’s actually learn about the word, shall we? It showed up in the late thirteenth century meaning periodic insanity dependent on changes in the moon—that’s where the luna part comes from. The word itself is from the Old French lunatique, insane, and Late Latin lunaticus, moon-struck. Well, it’s still a sounder psychiatric theory than lobotomies.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Spamfiles, yo.

Did they… forget the a in learning? Oh my god, they did. I can’t even.

Is it that I’m trending? I wouldn’t really call that special. More alarming. What did I do to get trending?

Using a 0 in place of an O and a random capital S just screams legitimate.

Okay, I don’t have a car or car insurance, so I don’t know, but is the rapidly fluctuating variables of car insurance really a thing? Is it so vital to get it right that “real time” provides some sort of edge?

She has a terminal illness! I think we all know it’s cancer. And I’m sure her husband is dead, and he left her a fortune she wants to give to charity. Plus she’s Canadian! She’d never lie!

Knocking out all your teeth and then replacing them with glow in the dark dentures does leave you with whiter teeth.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Saying Goodbye

No matter what I do, no one will ever take the place of you.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Language of Confusion: Cruelty, Part II

Subtitle: Even more cruelty.

Spite showed up in the fourteenth century as a short version of the word despit—or, you know, despite. Despite actually showed up around the same time, meaning defiance or “an act designed to humiliate someone”, from the Old French despit and classical Latin despectus, which means overlook, as in, look down on. The de- means down and the rest is from spicere, to look. So, to look down on. Which got the down part removed.

Callous showed up in the fifteenth century meaning hardened in the physical sense, much like a callus is hardened skin. It didn’t actually take on the figurative meaning until the late seventeenth century! Both callous and callus are from the classical Latin callosus, which means thick-skinned.  Not really anything surprising about this one, either.

Vicious showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning unwholesome or corrupting, or, in the case of text, erroneous. Yeah, it didn’t mean savage until the early eighteenth century. It comes from the Anglo French vicious and Old French vicios, and before that the classical Latin vitiosus, vicious, faulty, or corrupt. That corrupt thing is important here, as vitiosus comes from vitium, fault, which just so happens to be the origin word for vice.

Finally today, harsh, which is ironically the least harsh of these words. It showed up in the sixteenth century where it actually originally had to do with texture, and that texture was hairy. Seriously! It didn’t mean what we know it as until the end of the sixteenth century, and no idea how it got from hairy to there. It’s thought to come from the Middle English harske, rough or coarse, which is Scandinavian in origin. That word is related to the Middle Low German harsch, rough or raw, and might be from the Proto Indo European root kars-, to scrape, scratch, or rub. Well, that makes more sense with harshness than it does with hairiness.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Spam is spooky. WoooOOOooooOOOooooHHH!

That was supposed to be a ghost noise.

Yes, call Microsoft for a critical error in Chrome, made by a completely different company! I love how there’s a “threat of private data stealth”. Do not spend your time!

“I can’t take my eyes from you” because you’re apparently in a place where you can see me instead of the internet? Hm. Actually, that’s a little concerning.

Tell them to keep looking.

Ah, the cousin of the cancer widow: the young woman in desperate need of help getting to her fabulous wealth if only someone would please help her.

Yeah. Real trusted sender here.

It probably will just bring up the above mentioned spammers.

The best recommendations in sexy pictures?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bugging Out

Anyone who follows me on twitter would know exactly when this happened, and how bummed out about it I was.
Yeah, that should make for some great tasting corn bread.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Language Of Confusion: Cruelty

I mean, I guess these are kind of scary. Look, I’ve been etymologizing words for a long time. There’s a finite number.

Cruel showed up in the thirteenth century (as did cruelty), where it meant stern, then of suffering or death, before meaning “inclined to make another suffer” in the fourteenth century. It’s earlier form was crudel—with a d that was lost because of French influence—from the classical Latin crudelis, which could mean unfeeling or cruel. Now, that word looks like crude with a -lis on the end, and that’s because in a rare show of sense, that’s where crude comes from, although via the adjective version—crudusundigested. That can actually be traced back to the Proto Indo European kreue-… raw flesh. Wow. This one took a dark turn. It was very Halloween appropriate after all.

Ruthless was one I really wanted to do because while people say ruthless all the time, you never hear anyone say someone is acting ruth. Ruthless showed up in the early fourteenth century, and it was just a combination of the suffix -less and ruth. Yes, ruth is a word. It showed up in the thirteenth century as ruthe, meaning sorrow for someone else’s misery. It comes from the Old Norse hryggð, which is from hryggr, sorrowful or grieved—and the origin word for rue. In fact, it’s thought that the word is a combination of that hryggr and the Proto Germanic suffix -itho, or -th in English. You know how there’s true and truth? Well, there’s also rue and ruth. And before anyone asks, no, ruth the word is not related to the name. Not even a little.

Brute and brutal both showed up in the fifteenth century, although the former was early and the latter in the middle, although back then both actually referred to being animalistic as opposed to human, and not meaning savage and cruel until the seventeenth century. The brutal words are from the classical Latin brutus, which meant things like stupid, dumb, or even heavy. It’s origin beyond that is uncertain, although it’s possibly Oscan—an extinct Italic language, meaning one of the languages Latin overtook in the Roman Empire. It may be traced back to the Proto Indo European gwere-, heavy. I guess it’s possible, although the only thing the words seem to have in common is the definition of “heavy”.

And I think that’ll be it for this week, because those words had kind of a lot of information to them. Come back for more next Thursday!


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

From The Spamfiles

It’s Halloween month! Let’s see what spooky scams people are trying to pull on me.

Spoiler: they’re not spooky. Mostly just dumb.

Starting out with another Greg one. I mean, Demetra? Demetra???

Twenty four million dollars! And I’m sure it’s 100% legitimate!

Compliment of the day! We don’t say that enough anymore.

Now, CBD Oil spam is so common that I don’t go a day without getting one touting its miracle benefits. I am however puzzled as to why “Gillette” is in there among the obviously foreign language. Is the razor company branching out?

Are those bombs? Local Ladies LLC must be mad at me.

If it were that simple to get rid of spam, I would have done it a long time ago.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Language of Confusion: Bad Luck

I’m kind of running out of Halloween adjacent words to look at, so we’re down to words that are just bad luck.

Jinx showed up in 1911, making it a pretty recent word. Well, kind of. It’s origin is weirdly muddied. I say weirdly because there’s a word jynx, but it’s actually not definite that jinx came from it, even though that would make sense. Jynx actually showed up in the mid seventeenth century, where it meant “wryneck”, which is somehow an actual word that I’ve never heard of before—it’s a mix of wry and neck, and apparently a type of bird that was used in “witchcraft and divination”. Jynx is from the Modern Latin jynx, from the classical Latin iynx, and the wryneck bird is a subfamily of woodpeckers that’s called Jyngidae. So to sum up: jinx might be from jynx, a word for a bird called a wryneck that has something to do with magic, because shut up.

Curse comes from the Old English curs/cursian, a curse, so it’s straightforward so far. But then of course no one knows where it came from previously, as there is no Germanic, Romance, or Celtic equivalent. One theory is that it’s from the classical Latin cursus, which means course and is the origin word for course, as cursus could also mean a “set of daily liturgical prayers”. I don’t know. Why not?

Hex showed up in the early-mid nineteenth century in American English, meaning a witch and not a magic spell until the early twentieth century. It’s from the Pennsylvania German hexe, to practice witchcraft, and in proper German, it means witch. That can be traced to the Middle High German hecse/hexse, from the Old High German hagazussa, hag—and yes, that’s the origin word for hag.

Bane comes from the Old English bana, something which causes death, from the Proto Germanic banon. Before that, it’s another big old mystery, although at least this one is somewhat straightforward.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October Goals

It’s the first day of October! Time to see how I did with my goals last month.

September Goals
1. Well,  now that I’ve started, I might as well finish WIP-2.
As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I did it! WHOOO!

2. Maybe actually get around to editing those old stories this time.
Nope. I was too busy editing WIP-1. So it’s kind of a win, just not the one I intended.

3. I should also update my etymology page. I don’t even have the case words up yet.
Yes, got this all taken care of.

So I did pretty good this month. I mean, I will get to those stories eventually. But the longer works take priority.

Anyway, new goals.

October Goals
1. Work on notes and edit WIP-1. I have some rewrites to do, and reorganizing, then I need to get more people to read it. Hint hint.

2. Start an editing plan for WIP-2 and possibly start editing that, depending on how much free time I have.

3. Start writing things like query letters, taglines, and synopses for WIP-1. I can’t believe it’s finally come to this.

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