Thursday, March 22, 2018

Language of Confusion: Vehicles

Sometimes I have trouble thinking up new words to etymologize. I think I have a good one and then I check my list of words and of course it’s there. But I haven’t done cars yet!

Vehicle showed up in the early seventeenth century, and back then it meant “a medium through which a drug or medicine is administered”. Can you believe it? It’s from the classical Latin vehiculum, which is vehicle and from veher, to travel. That word is from the Proto Indo European wegh, to move or transport. That also happens to be the origin word of wagon, if by a different means. See, wagon showed up in the late fifteenth century from the Middle Dutch wagen and Proto Germanic wagnaz, which is what comes from wegh-.

Car actually showed up in the fourteenth century, although back then it was just a wheeled vehicle. Because, you know. No engines. It comes from the Anglo French carre and Old North French carre, which is then from the Vulgar Latin carra, related to the classical Latin carrum/carrus, which mean handcart and vehicle, respectively. It can actually be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European kers-, to run, and is related to words like carousel, carriage, chariot, and charge. Also carpenter. But that’s a story for another day.

Truck didn’t show up until the seventeenth century—there’s another version of it that means barter or exchange that came several centuries earlier, but it’s not related to this one. The vehicle one is thought to be from the classical Latin trochus, an iron hoop, which of course was taken from the Greek trokhos, wheel, and trekhein, to run. So truck was originally a wheel, then it was the thing that the wheels were on.

Van didn’t show up until 1829, although that’s because it’s short for caravan. Caravan is older, having shown up in the late sixteenth century from the Middle French caravane, Old French carvane, and Medieval Latin caravana. The word was picked up during the Crusades from the Arabic qairawan and Persian karwan, a group of desert travelers. And now it’s the soccer mom’s vehicle of choice.

Sedan showed up in the midseventeenth century meaning a covered chair on poles. I think I remember a sedan being a chair in something I’ve read over the years, although I can’t remember what. Anyway, it’s thought to be from the Italian word sede, which means seat, which is from the classical Latin sedere, to sit, and can be traced to the Proto Indo European sed-, also to sit. As to why it became a word for a type of vehicle… because you sit in them?


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Epic Saga Continues

More conversations with my mom that I’m somehow not making up. This time we were talking about weekend plans and how she supposed to have lunch with one of her friends.

Her: I half expect her to cancel on me. I told her it was her birthday, I’d pay for it, but still she was all wishy-washy.

Me: Oh, it’s her birthday? That’s nice.

Her: Yeah, but her daughter’s birthday is the same day and she said on Facebook they were doing something.

Me: That doesn’t mean she’ll cancel lunch. Are their birthdays really on the same day?

Her: Yep. Her daughter had the decency to be born on the same day as her, unlike some people who came four days too early.

Me: Five days.

Her: Five days too early.

Me: …Are you really yelling at me for not having the same birthday as you?

Her: Yes!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Winter Forecast

Spring is almost here! Not that you’d know it where I live.
Okay, really it happened over an entire day. But STILL.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Language of Confusion: Proper

[whoops didn't set the time properly on this one; well here it is, a bit later than usual]

Proper being related to private of course got me thinking about that word, so here we go.

Proper first showed up in the fourteenth century from the Old French propre and classical Latin  proprius, which can mean proper or individual. That word is actually taken from a phrase, pro privo, which could mean things like to deprive or private, because yes that privo is from privus, the origin word for private. Interestingly enough, while proper showed up in English meaning apt, it morphed into meaning “pertaining to oneself; individual” and then separate or distinct, which as we all know is very appropriate for a word related to private. Even though we don’t generally use proper that way anymore, that individual definition is where we get proper name from and probably proper noun, too.

Next, property also showed up in the fourteenth century as properte and it meant a quality before it meant something that was owned. It comes from the Old French propriete, individuality or property, and classical Latin proprietatem, property. That word comes from the above mentioned proprius, which means that it’s also related to private, so at one point the phrase “private property” would have been redundant.

Appropriate showed up in the early fifteenth century, first meaning to take possession of (like to appropriate something) before meaning suitable or apt. It comes from the Late Latin appropriatus, the past participle of appropriare, to make one’s own. The a comes from ad-, to, and the rest is from proprius. Appropriate is… to proper? To individual? I guess appropriating something is taking it to an individual. As to why appropriate now means proper, I guess that’s just because the word’s just intertwined in there, even in English.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Another Game

Didn’t I used to do regular posts full of distractions? I should start doing that again. And I am. Here’s another game, Planaris.

I like the creativity of this game, taking something familiar and going in another direction with it. It’s like Tetris in a way, both in the shapes of the pieces you’re given and the fact that you’re supposed to gain points by clearing lines. But the pieces don’t fall down and when a line is cleared it doesn’t drop down, which also means that you don’t lose when you hit the top.

Instead, you can move the pieces anywhere and when you clear a line, everything stays where it was. You don’t lose until there’s no spaces left for you to fit a piece into. Also the fact that everything doesn’t drop down means that if you clear a single line along the bottom, then you’ll have a hard time getting pieces that can fit in there.

The description for this game says it’s “easy to learn but difficult to master.” And while most of the time I think that’s overstating things, in this case it’s perfectly accurate. If you want something really challenging, then this is the game for you. It might also be good if you want to kill five minutes, and I wouldn’t call it super addictive, but that’s a YMMV thing.

That means Your Mileage May Vary. I’ve been on TV Tropes recently and they use that a lot. Don’t click that link though. You’ll never leave. I shouldn’t have even brought it up but it was on my mind.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Time To Write

There was a bad storm last week and I’m not even kidding this is exactly what happened.
The power was out for almost two days! It was cold! And boring!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Language of Confusion: Privates

I feel like I deserve credit for not naming this post Private Parts. But that I lost it all by mentioning it here.

Private first showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the classical Latin privatus, which in a revelation that shouldn’t shock anyone means private. It also comes from privare, to deprive or separate, and privus, individual (not like a person, like each separate thing). That word can be traced back to the Proto Indo European prei-wo-, separate or individual, and the prei- is what gave us per-, you know, like one per customer. As well as a billion other words that I’m not getting sucked into right now.

Then there’s deprive, which showed up in the mid fourteenth century. It’s from the Old French  depriver and Medieval Latin deprivare. It’s basically just privare with a de- in front, but this time the de- means entirely, which I think is weird because de usually means undoing something. Separate entirely…deprive. Also related is privy, which actually showed up more than a century before private. It came to English from the Old French privĂ©, intimate, private place, but that just came from the Latin privatus, which means private and is related to privare and privus.

That’s it for this week. I must still be exhausted from the leg- thing. Which reminds me that as I revealed a few weeks ago, privilege the leg- word is related to private, too. It’s private + leg (technically legal). There’s no escaping leg! Although even weirder is how private is somehow related to proper. I’m not making that up, although I totally could because it’s one of those etymology things that’s so weird it has to be true.