Thursday, August 23, 2007

eating roots

Logic games. 2 + 2 = 5, for particularly high values of 2. Is that logic or merely understanding the difference beginning truncating and formatting, or perhaps that engineers abhor truncation? If you are scared half to death two times without opportunity for recovery in between, do you die? Logic or assuming a fact not in evidence, ergo, one cannot literally be scared half to death.

What passes for logic in this world is oftentimes specious. Did you know that “oftentimes” is a word? Why shouldn’t it be, eh? “Sometimes” is ok; “anytime” is fine. I think oftentimes will become my new favorite word. I will use it in sentences oftentimes.

Come to think of it, “often” is pretty cool. Sounds soft, like a pussy cat. This is from the Online Etymology Dictionary: c.1300, extended form of oft (q.v.), originally before vowels and h-, probably by infl. of M.E. selden "seldom." In common use from 16c., replacing oft. Extended form oftentimes is attested from c.1430.

I used a word that is coming up on 600 years old. I am so proud of myself.

I knew it! I was having a conversation with my twin last night and the topic of the etymology of “snot” arose – or rather, shot out. I suspected that it was shortened from another word (you reading this?). Ta da! But before I stand too tall, I did believe that perhaps it was rooted in the expulsion of an object, and was shortened and applied to that which was expelled. But I was partially right! O.E. gesnot "nasal mucus," from P.Gmc. *snuttan (cf. O.Fris. snotta, M.L.G., M.Du. snotte, M.L.G. snute), from the same base as snout. O.E. also had a verb snite "wipe or pick one's nose." Meaning "despicable person" is from 1809. Snotty "impudent, curt, conceited" first recorded 1870; snotnose "upstart" is from 1941.

Funny how language lingers. Old English, “gesnot.” And today, “What’s that?!” “Oh, jus’ snot.” Remarkable.

I love the word, “cellar”: c.1225, from O.Fr. celer, from L. cellarium "pantry, storeroom," lit. "group of cells," from L. cella. I read a long, long time ago that “cellar door” is the most melodic phrase in the English language. I don’t know if that is true, but I have adopted it. Beautiful phrase.

I remember being at work when I in my mid-20s. This girl who worked with me – nice enough, probably a good person, but we just annoyed each other terribly – her last name was Moreno. I remember a VP had her name in a doc and spellchecked it. He laughed a little too loudly and said, “Hey, the closest word to ‘Moreno’ is ‘moron’!” I really don’t think anyone else heard it, and he was a very nice guy just finding humor in it. I laughed at the symmetry. Yeah, I was young and northern.

Moron: 1910, from Gk. (Attic) moron, neut. of moros "foolish, dull" (probably cognate with Skt. murah "idiotic;" L. morus "foolish" is a loan-word from Gk.). Adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded with a technical definition "adult with a mental age between 8 and 12;" used as an insult since 1922 and subsequently dropped from technical use. Linnæus had introduced morisis "idiocy."

Boy, coin the word one year, and twelve years later the northerners get their hands on it. I never realized how fundamental the Mason-Dixon Line was to a well-lived life until recently.

Speaking of being from the north, I learned the other day that you’re not supposed to say “butt” in front of strangers. Go figure! I mean, it was a nurse in a proctologist’s office. It wasn’t like I said, “Would you stick that in my butt?” Or, “Does my butt look fat in these jeans?” Nothing like that. Well, come to think of it, it was a variant of the first one. OK. Some things I just have to accept. I’m learning.

Been drifting back to Marc Bolan lately. Thirty years ago next month he ate a tree at some nasty-fast speed. Glam rock. What a great period in my life. I really enjoy the videos on you tube – search on t rex.

Got things to do. Later.

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