[PLUG-TALK] On the origin of words

John Jason Jordan johnxj at gmx.com
Thu Sep 19 10:23:29 PDT 2019


On Thu, 19 Sep 2019 07:24:56 -0700 (PDT)
Rich Shepard <rshepard at appl-ecosys.com> dijo:

>Etymology, n.:
>         Some early etymological scholars came up with derivations that
>  were hard for the public to believe.  The term "etymology" was formed
>  from the Latin "etus" ("eaten"), the root "mal" ("bad"), and "logy"
>  ("study of").  It meant "the study of things that are hard to
> swallow." -- Mike Kellen

The last part of that was partially correct. "Logy" comes from ancient
Greek 'logos' which, in the days of Homer, meant 'word,' and only later
morphed into 'study.' (Think of Homer's day when almost everyone was
illiterate, a time when to 'study' meant looking at words.) Of course,
the Romans borrowed it, and other later Indo-European languages did as
well, giving present day English gazillions of words ending in -logy.

For those really interested in etymology and historical linguistics,
the first part comes from ancient Greek ἔτῠμος [εtumos]*, 'true,
real,' and even in ancient Greek appeared in the compound ἔτῠμο-λογία
[εtumo logia]* 'true, real word.' Hence, English "etymology" was not
actually made up of individual morphemes, but rather, was borrowed
intact from ancient Greek.

*For simplicity, for the IPA here, I have left off the ancient Greek
tone diacritics, as English is a stress-accent language, not a
pitch-accent language like ancient Greek, so the tone marks would be
meaningless to most English speakers.


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