Thursday, July 30, 2020

Language Of Confusion: This and That

How about a bunch of little words that we use all the time?

This comes from the Old English þis, which is just this where the th has its own letter. It’s thought to be from the North Sea Germanic pronoun tha-si-, which is a mix of the base word þa with an -s at the end. Once upon a time, this had tons of different forms, Masculine, Feminine, Neutral, and Plural, and of course in all the different tenses. I am just so glad we pared it down to one. How annoying would it be to have to conjugate twenty different forms for this???

That is from the Old English þaet, which is that much like we use it. It comes from the Proto Germanic that, from the Proto Indo European tod-, which is from the root word -to-. That also had masculine and feminine forms—the masculine form was actually se and the feminine seo, with an S! That with the th is actually the neutral form. And we should now all take a moment to thank Middle English for getting rid of gendered articles, because that is a stupid idea that makes things overcomplicated.

Next, we’re looking at the, which was þe in Old English. At least, that was one of its forms. In fact, þe was a later form, and earlier it was se—yes, the same se that came from. It’s from the Proto Indo European root so-, which you know is the origin of this and that. I guess that’s where all these words come from.

Now let’s look at some non-th words. At comes from the Old English aet, which is just at. It’s from the Proto Indo European ad-, to, near, or at, which is part of just so many words that start with a- or ad-. Anyway, that’s at. Fairly sensible origin, and almost completely unchanged in thousands of years. Impressive.

From comes from (ha!) the Old English fram, which is just from with a different vowel. It can be traced to the Proto Germanic fra, forward or away from (kind of contradictory there) and Proto Indo European pro-mo-… Seriously??? It’s actually from pro-, forward, and get this, frame is from the same place. Well, technically, frame is from the already mentioned Old English fram. As in, this is where the frame you use for pictures comes from. I am one hundred percent not making that up. The frame thing is something I’m going to have to get into another time because holy crap is that a journey.

Okay, let’s end with something more sensible. For comes from the Old English for, meaning… well, for. What were you expecting? It’s from the Proto Germanic fur and Proto Indo European per-, forward. Which is also where pro comes from.

Nothing much else to stay here. My mind is still reeling from the from/frame thing.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

From The Spamfiles

I definitely enjoy digital spam more than real spam.

Well, then you’re barking up the wrong tree, because I have neither of those things.

…Ever feel violated by a spam? The emojis in particular feel like a slap to the face.

“Congratulations” is not something you would normally hear from an unsubscribe request. Also, I love how they say it’s been “granted”, then immediately switch to it being “in process” and I have to confirm.

Pintoso? Am I Pintoso? What even is Pintoso???

Of all the unfortunate names I have ever seen in my life, “DR DAVID KUM” has to be the worst. There are no more contenders. A winner has been declared.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Language of Confusion: Terms

Now, I already did terminate a while back, but I never looked at the other words it’s related to, so it’s time to do that. For a refresher: terminate showed up in the late fifteenth century. It’s from the classical Latin terminatus, terminating, and terminare, to terminate. That’s pretty much all that’s known about it.

Term itself showed up earlier, in the thirteenth century, from the Old French terme and classical Latin terminus, which means border. Whether it’s used for school or elected office, a term has a fixed ending—a border, if you will. Now, term is also used to mean a word/phrase usage. That actually started in the fourteenth century, and unsurprisingly it has a weird reason why. Okay, first of all, Medieval Latin used terminus as a translation for the Greek word horos, which was a word for boundary used in math and logic. Somehow that morphed “in terms of” into meaning “particular phraseology”. I guess a phrase is limited by its meaning? Also in that vein, the word terminal. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century, again just referring to the end of something. Then in 1888, it started to mean the end point of a railway line, which is why it’s still used in different methods of travel. Then 1954 gave us computer terminal. No real reason why, but maybe because it was a stopping point like a train terminal. But that’s just a guess on my part.

Exterminate… well, okay, it’s kind of a weird story, big shocker. It showed up in the mid sixteenth century along with extermination. Exterminator on the other hand showed up in the fifteenth century. Where it meant “an angel who expels people from a country”. Yeah. The job exterminator didn’t actually show up until 1848. In any case, all the words can be traced to the classical Latin exterminare, which means exterminate, but also to banish or expel—Late Latin was the one to make the word lean towards destroy. Exterminare is a mix of the prefix ex-, out of, and termine, boundary. To exterminate is to kick someone out of a boundary.

Determine showed up in the latefourteenth century as determinen, from the Old French determiner and classical Latin determinare, to determine or set limits to (determining something sets limits to it, I suppose). The de- means off, and the rest of course is limit/end/boundary. To determine is to boundary off something.

Finally, interminable. It showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French interminable and Late Latin interminabilis, endless. It’s a mix of the prefix in-, meaning not here, the suffix -able, and of course term. Interminable is literally not-boundary-able. And unlike most of these words, there are no weird transfers of meanings.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

From The Spamfiles

Ah, it’s nice to have something to post that doesn’t matter at all, it’s just a laugh.

Well, maybe not all of them are a laugh. This one just creeps me out.

Okay, so much to unpack here. First, what is a pis and why would I bite it? Second, if it’s online, how are you going to rip my f’ing clothes off? Finally, and most distressingly, the emoticon boobies, pointing in different directions. I just… I need a drink.

I get that these spammers generally aren’t English speakers, but… come on. Reply. There’s an R in it. It shouldn’t be that hard.

See? This one doesn’t have any ridiculous misspellings. The idea of an “ATM Card Department” is kind of ridiculous, but at least they put some effort into it.

Is this from a kitty? Because I’d actually be interested in that.

When I get spam like this, that tells me I have to write somewhere to unsubscribe, I really have to wonder: is there someone somewhere who actually does it? Seriously, I want to sit on top of a mountain and contemplate the type of person who would write a physical letter to unsubscribe from an email list. Forget the sound of one hand clapping, THIS is the riddle to achieve another plane of mental awareness.

Saturday, July 18, 2020


I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this really happened.
Seriously, you’d think I’d have this down by now. I personally blame spelling for being stupidly illogical.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Language of Confusion: Do-, Part IV

Last one! Not a single one of these has “do” in it, and half don’t even have a D. But they do come from do, the Proto Indo European root meaning “to give.” So there’s that.

The first few words are pretty obviously connected to each other. Betray showed up in the early thirteenth century, where it could also be bitrayen. The first part is from be-, which is just, you know, be, while the rest comes from tray, a Middle English word that isn’t used anymore (and has nothing to do with, like, a serving tray). Tray is from the Old French traine, from the verb trair, betray, from the classical Latin tradere, hand over. That word is also a mix of other words, and the tra- is from trans-, meaning across, and the rest is dare, to give, and that one’s from do-, making the word to give over. To betray is to be a give over-er.

Traitor’s origin is of course the same. It showed up in the thirteenth century from the Old French traitor/traitre, from the classical Latin traditor, a noun meaning traitor that’s just from tradere. Then there’s treason, which also showed up in the thirteenth century, from the Anglo French treson and Old French traison. That’s from the classical Latin traditionem, which actually means delivery and is also from tradere. And that traditionem looks an awful lot like tradition for a reason.

Tradition showed up later, in the late fourteenth century, from the Old French tradicion, which is just from traditionem. A tradition is something you “deliver” or hand down through the years. As for why it became treason in one word and tradition in another, well, another definition of traditionem is literally giving up/over. Which, yeah, could be a betrayal. It’s just so weird how differently you can interpret words.

The next word is a complete departure from the above. Add showed up in the late fourteenth century, from the classical Latin addere, to add. The ad- means to, and the rest is from dare, to give. To add is “to give to”. Makes sense!

Now for the last of the do- words, and perhaps the one that seems the weirdest: die. Wait, did you think I meant like to cease to live? Oh no. Not that one. I mean a die, like you roll in a game. The first die has its own origin. A die showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French de. Now, de is of “uncertain origin”, so no one’s sure, but it’s thought to be from datum, which I mentioned weeks ago as the origin for date and data. I have no idea why it would have anything to do with a die though, so maybe this speculation isn’t true. Still, weirder things about words have been true. I mean, who would think that add and traitor would be related?


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mid-Year Check In

Boy, am I not looking forward to this. What even are my 2020 resolutions?

1. Get WIP-1 ready to be published.
It’s getting there. I think. Who knows if it’ll ever get published, though.

2. Finish editing WIP-2 to get it ready for beta reading.
I haven’t done nearly enough on this, but in my defense, 2020.

3. Finish editing the other WIP that kind of got pushed aside after I decided to write WIP-2.
Same answer as above.

4. Write the two short side stories I have planned, and edit everything.
Started on this, but got distracted. Because. You know. Everything.

5. Maybe write the sequel to the other WIP. I don’t know, I’ll have to see if I have the time.
Didn’t work on the sequel, worked on another new book entirely, because of course I did.

6. Work on my health and hopefully get better.
Wow, this was a goal? Wow. Frankly, the fact that I haven’t gotten sick with the deadly disease infecting the entire planet is probably a win. Hope I can keep that going.

7. Not back down when I know what’s right. Ever.
Did not think this one would be tested as much as it was.

So. Yeah. 2020, man. What a frigging year. I want to go crawl under the covers and hide for the rest of the year. No, that won’t do any good. For the rest of my life. Yes, that should finally make things better.

How has this year gone for you? Punch to the gut? Kick to the shins? Something in between?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Language of Confusion: Do-, Part III

Back again! Quick reminder: the prefix do- (no relation to the word do) is from the Proto Indo European word for give. It shows up in a lot of places. Although as you’ll see, we’re almost out of words that actually have do- in them. Some of them don’t even have a d!

First today, condone. It showed up in 1857, surprisingly recently, meaning forgive or pardon (to condone something was to forgive someone for doing it), although it actually appeared in dictionaries in the sixteenth century—people just didn’t use it normally—and then by 1962 people were using it to mean to tolerate something. It comes from the classical Latin condonare, pardon, a mix of the prefix com-, which is probably just intensive here, and donare, to endow, which we’ve actually talked about already since it’s also the origin for endow. So I guess by condoning something you’re… really giving it?

Speaking of pardon, it’s also a do- word. And also the last word we’re looking at that actually has do- in it. Pardon showed up in the fourteenth century specifically referring to the forgiveness of sins, and then in a more general sense in the late fourteenth century. It’s from the Old French pardon, from the verb pardoner, to grant or forgive. That’s from the Medieval Latin perdonum, and from the Vulgar Latin perdonare. The per- means forward, and the rest is also from donare. To give forward is to forgive. Oh, wow. Par-don. For give. Mind = blown.

Next we’re looking at render, which is not related to rend in the least. Render has kind of a confusion origin. It showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning to repeat or say again, and in the late fourteenth century started to mean to hand over or deliver. In the late fifteenth century it was to return (like a verdict), and in the late sixteenth century it meant represent or depict (to render something). As for render’s origins, it’s from the Old French rendre, from the Vulgar Latin rendere, from the classical Latin reddere, to return or give back. The first part of the word is from re-, back, and the second part is from dare, previously mentioned as meaning to give. To render something is to give it back!

Surrender is from the same place. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century from the Old French surrendre, to give up. The sur- means over and the rest is just render. To give back over. To surrender. Not much more to add to that. If you want weirder prefixes, we can look at vendor, which is just from vend. Vend showed up in the early seventeenth century from the classical Latin vendere, tosell. It’s actually a contraction of venumdare, also to sell, and the venum means sold (and is actually the origin word of venal) while the dare is to give. To vend is to give for sale. Basically, this one was a long word and people kept shortening it.

Finally today, we’re looking at rent. Not like the past tense of rend, because much like render, it is in no way related. No, this is rend like people pay for lodgings. It’s a very old word, having shown up in the mid twelfth century meaning income or revenue. It’s from the Old French rente, from the Vulgar Latin rendita, and that one is from our old friend rendere—as in render. Rent is something rendered. And for some reason the French replaced the D with a T.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July Goals

Right, it’s goals day. Let’s see what I didn’t do last month.

June Goals
1. Finish new WIP. Not thinking this will be any problem.
And it wasn’t. Really, writing this was the best part of my month.

2. Actually work on one of my old projects this month! The exclamation point means I’m serious!
Not serious enough, it seems. It was just a lot more fun to work on the new WIP.

3. Update the etymology page. I keep forgetting to do this!
Hey, I did this! Yay!

So not bad really, considering how tough June was to get through.  Sometimes you have to take wins where you can get them.

July Goals
1. Finish first round of editing notes on WIP. I have over four hundred of them, mostly me telling myself to add more descriptions.

2. After finishing the above, complete the next round of structure edits on the WIP.

3. Look at the yearly goals I’m supposed to be working on that I’m sure I’ve made no progress on. Eep.

Stay tuned next week for when I actually see what my goals are for this year. Wow, I can’t believe more than half of 2020 is gone. It really seems like it’s been a lot longer. A lot longer.

What are you up to this month?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Language of Confusion: Do-, Part II

Part two of looking at do-, the Proto Indo European suffix meaning to give that shows up in a lot of weird places. I mean, last week kind of made sense, but trust me. Things are getting weird.

First, let’s look at date. Um, not the fruit. That’s not related. Anyway! It showed up in the early fourteenth century meaning a time period (a romantic date didn’t come about until 1885). It’s from the Old French date, Medieval Latin data (gee, why does that sound familiar?), and the classical Latin datus, which means given. So it originally meant given, which makes sense considering do- means to give, but the evolution from that to a time is weird. Apparently, it was because the Romans ended their correspondence with the word “given”, and then the day and month, possibly as in given to be messaged on that time. And because of that, date means time.

Now, data showed up later, in the mid seventeenth century, also from datum and its verb form dare, to give. Originally it meant “a fact given as the basis for calculation in mathematical problems”, so data was basically a math theorem, and then in 1897, it meant “numerical facts collected for future reference”, which is more or less what we still use it as. Kind of funny to think that data, which we use so m uch these days, is only about 120 years old. Also in this vein, mandate. It showed up in the sixteenth century from the Middle French mandat and classical Latin mandatum, command. The man- part actually means hand, and the rest is from dare, to give, so it’s “to give by hand”. I guess a command is given by hand?

Next we’re looking at edition, which yes, really is related. Edition showed up in the early fifteenth century—edit actually showed up much later, in 1791. Originally it meant a version or translation, and then in the mid sixteenth century it was publishing. The word comes from the French édition and classical Latin editionem, edition, from the verb edere, produce. The e- comes from ex-, out, and the rest is from dare. This means the word is to give out. Which… yeah, editions are given out.

Perdition showed up in the mid fourteenth century in a theological sense, and then in a general sense a little after. It’s from the Old French perdicion and Late Latin perditionem, ruin or destruction. In classical Latin, it’s the verb perdere, to destroy or waste or lose, with the per- meaning through and the rest from dare. To give through means destruction? That doesn’t really make sense. I’d like to know what the Romans were thinking with that one.