W is for…

W The wind blew, and you won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding…  I’m obviously poking fun at all of the videos that plague my Facebook feed. I mean, some of the videos are actually super-cute, but actually, having not just fallen off the turnip truck, I can believe what happens next! And that hyperbolic headline writing just makes me not watch said video.

Which is sad, cuz that video could indeed be the very video that actually does change my life for the better. (Tho I doubt it.) (And I guess said “videos” could have been my “V” topic, but oh well.)

Anywho, I digress:

W is for Word Origins

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love love love words. (Hence my tagline: “plays well with words”.) And I also love learning where the words come from, and where/why we (the collective “we”) decided something means something in particular.

There’s a meme going around Facebook that says that much of the way we use words today comes from the Bard himself, Shakespeare. That he like, invented some words that we still use today. Mental Floss has this interesting article on 20 words in particular that we owe to him, with the intro:

Endlessly imaginative and not overly concerned with grammatical convention, Shakespeare’s scripts contain over 2200 never-before-seen words—a diverse collection of loan-words from foreign languages, compound words from existing English terms…

Language itself is fluid and ever changing. For instance, {and I mean no offense to anyone by using this word}, “queer” has quite a different connotation today than it did in my grandmother’s time. And when she uses it, I have to stop and think for a second as to what she means.

New words are created all the time and enter our common lexicon and then sometimes are actually added to the real dictionary. According to Oxford Dictionary’s blog published 28 August 2013, the following words have been added to the dictionary, which means they are “real” words: selfie, squee, and even FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Even srsly is now a word!

A lot of people argue that we need to keep the language “pure” and not allow “srsly” to become a word, but instead must use the full word, “seriously”, to get our intent across. Some people would also argue we need to follow the comma conventions in place back in 1921 (see the image in my “Q” post), but heavens knows I don’t agree with that.

Postcard from the show. I was intrigued by the image and the good design. Image stolen from https://sites.google.com/site/playersofgsu/

Postcard from the show. I was intrigued by the image and the good design. Image stolen from their website.

So, back to Shakespeare. Thursday night I dragged my artist friend SusanElaine along with me to see GSU’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

And what a delightful production it was. Full of humor and interesting dress and gender changes and a playground set and a little rap thrown in for good measure… but using Shakespeare’s own words. (My fingers were positively itching to take photographs cuz of the lighting and the crazy-fun set, but I abstained… even tho ’twas awfully difficult.) (And too bad there’s only a couple showings left; if you’re in Atlanta, you should try to see it.)

And what SusanElaine and I decided is that … we were glad we knew the story, because otherwise, we would have had no idea what was going on. Although the play and the story stands up, the language is hard to follow. I mean, it’s believed the play was written in the late 1590s. Like, a long long time ago.

I have a copy of the book Word Origins: The Romance of Language, first published in 1949 and reissued in 1962. It belonged to my mother (a gift from her parents in 1965) and she gave it to me (I’m not sure when). The interesting thing is that it’s not so much a list of words, but, as it calls itself, a “Dictionary of Word Makers”.  (I checked; Miley Cyrus and “twerk” isn’t in there. LOL)

So, for instance, did you know that “Adam’s apple”, or the “projection of the thyroid cartilage of the larynx”, derives from the idea that Adam choked on that piece of apple he ate in the Garden of Eden? And did you know that the name “Juno” (yes, the name used for the film), is not just a quirky name for a pregnant teen, but actually the wife of the god Jupiter, and she was a “woman of stately beauty” as well as the “queen of heaven”? And that “Nimrod” did not start as a pejorative, but was actually a great hunter? Per dictionary.com, the word “came to meangeek, klutz’ by 1983 in teenager slang, for unknown reasons. (Amateur theories include its occasional use in “Bugs Bunny” cartoon episodes featuring rabbit-hunting).”

And of course, there are quite a few words and people in the book that I’ve never even heard of… I guess their usage has fallen out of favor in the past 52 years.

If you’re interested in more word origins and why we have expressions like “face the music” and “dead as a doornail” and “between the devil and the deep blue sea” and “go whole hog” and “behind the eight ball”, I highly recommend the very enjoyable – and quite thorough – book, 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance.

I’ll take my break for Sunday, and then be back on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for the last three days – and letters of the alphabet – for the #AtoZchallenge2014. Any guesses what I’ll write about for X, Y, and Z? And are you proud of me for making it thus far? I know I am!  :)

More ramblings / other posts you might want to read...


About dSavannah

~ #disabled #spoonie fighting numerous, chronic, painful #InvisibleIllnesses ~ also #wife #feminist #ally #advocate #papyrophiliac #DogCatTurtleWrangler
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6 Responses to W is for…

  1. Betsy says:

    What a perfect blog from you….right up your alley. Thanks for the interesting info. Learn something new every day (or night).

  2. Elaine LeDoux says:

    Srsly, if I used that word in my very combative games of Words with Friends my daughter would surely make a fuss, and send me back an ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? rant. I would have to forward her rant to you for verification. I learn so much from you….find myself wishing I lived closer so I could take your class!!! It was very interesting to learn about Shakespeare and I found myself wondering if the dictionary of words by the ever noteworthy AJ Aalto (who comes up with some doosies), and is still a work in progress, will at some point overtake Shakespeare…..A question to ponder. Or should I say, TO PONDER OR NOT TO PONDER….THAT IS THE QUESTION :)

    • dSavannah dSavannah says:

      One (or rather WE) can only hope that AJ Aalto‘s words will someday rival if not overtake those of Shakespeare.

      As for Words with Friends… well, there are actually different dictionaries. Srsly has been added to the Oxford online dictionary, but not necessarily to other dictionaries, including whatever dictionary WwF references. :)

      As for living closer… wow… that’s so nice, and not at all stalkerish. :)

  3. I am proud of you. We’re on the home stretch!!!

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