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Anything goes Friday: I love etymology

As promised last Friday, here is my post on etymology.

Have you ever thought about how weird language is? It becomes especially obvious when you speak more then one language, and the languages in question are wildly different. In my case, those would be French and English.
Take the word “green”. Simple enough, right? I say that word, and you think of the color, and unless you are among the 2.5% of the population who are color-blind, you’re going to think of a color that’s at least similar to the one I’m thinking of. Did you ever wonder why we call this color “green”?
Tracing back through Middle English and Old English and Proto-German and even Proto-Indo-European, it is linked to the root of the word “grow”. Which makes sense; a lot of things that grow are green (plants, flowers, tree leaves, moss, etc.) and vice-versa. In French, however, the color is called “vert”, which can be traced back to the Latin word for “fresh”, and/or “vigorous”. What I find really interesting is that the reason French (and Spanish and Italian) draw so heavily from the Latin is the fact that the Romans invaded, and remained there for centuries. Yet the Romans were also in England for centuries, six of them to be exact, and almost no Latin roots can be found in the modern English language.
And think about the Celts. They occupied a pretty large portion of Europe, including both France and England, for at least as much time as the Romans did, and yet what trace is there of the Celtic influence in either language? Nothing, unless you count the math.
If you count up to 20, you see that each number is described by a different word. 21, on the other hand, is written in two words: twenty (20), and one (1). Only to more you think about it, the less it makes sense. We use Arabic numerals, we count on a base of ten, why is eleven even a word? Logically, 11 should be ten-one, the same way 21 is twenty-one. Who counts on a base of twenty?
The Celts, of course. In the Celtic language, 30 is twenty-ten, 40 is two-twenty, 50 is two-twenty-ten, 60 is three-twenty, 70 is three-twenty-ten, 80 is four-twenty, 90 is four-twenty-ten. And while that bit of counting was lost to the practicalities of modern mathematics, the individual names of numbers from one to twenty remain.
And in French, the link is even more obvious. Number from one to sixteen have their own name (it’s possible that 17, 18 and 19 also all had their names, but their are now ten-seven, ten-eight and ten-nine) AND the numbers between 60 and 100 are counted on a base of 20. 71 is sixty-ten-one, 83 is four-twenty-three, 95 is four-twenty-fifteen.
Isn’t this all amazing?! And what’s even more amazing is that France and England are really close to each other, they shared so much cultural background, and yet they developed languages so completely different from each other.
(It might have something to do with the fact that they spent over 500 years actively at war with each other, but that’s a story for another day.)

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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: more short thoughts

Because it’s one of those days again.

– I started to write about how much I love etymology, but then I realized that it would take too long to qualify as a short thought, so I’ll probably cue up a post on that for next Friday. For now, I’ll only say that language is a wonderful, improbable, amazing thing.

– I was shopping today, and I bought a bunch of movies, including “Frozen” and “Saving Mr. Banks”, which I then proceeded to watch back to back. Disney studios, who gave you the right to do this to my heart? How dare you?!?

– Sometimes I think about the fact that the majority of the Tumblr users I follow are younger then I am, by something close to a decade, and it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Sometimes, I overhear some conversations between co-workers, about how a girl who goes to a club and asks for a friend to help her get away from the creeps is apparently a hypocrite because “she goes on the floor with a big smile on her face” and “she should stop asking for it”, or about how a five foot nothing girl got her ass grabbed by a six foot plus guy and “it’s so funny” because “you know how he is”, and it makes me feels sick a lot. And then I imagine putting this conversation on Tumblr, how the social justice warriors would tear it to shreds if they caught it, and it restores my faith in humanity. Because those co-workers I’m talking about? They’re in their late 30’s early 40’s. In 20-25 years, they’re going to be retired in some trailer park in Florida, while the current teenagers of Tumblr will rule the world. It can only be an improvement.

(Yes, the etymology bit would have been ever longer then that. I have a lot of feelings about etymology, okay?)

I think that’s enough for today.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: I love Ireland

So … I had a thing planned for today, but it didn’t work. So instead I’m just going to post something real quick.

I love Ireland. I’ve been wanting to go there for almost half my life. (That makes me sound terrifyingly old.) (“terrifyingly” is a word? English language, you are so weird. Anyway.) I blame Nora Roberts; about 15% of her entire body of work is either set in Ireland, or features a predominantly Irish character. To sooth the inner, and possibly outer, hipster, I’ll add that I’ve also read The Princes of Ireland, by Edward Rutherford. I don’t think I’ve read The Rebels of Ireland, though, and I probably should. I probably should re-read the Princes as well.

I also love listening to Irish folk music, and I started collecting albums right around the time I started reading Nora Roberts. Add that to all the photos in Google images, and, well … I’m going there someday. It might not be like the pictures or the books or the songs (in fact I strongly suspect it won’t be) but I’ll see for myself how different it is. Someday.

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: The ideal week-end length

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before; I have a day job, one I actually enjoy. It’s a clerical job, so I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, which is my natural state of being, but it also requires me to walk around quite a bit, so my legs and butt aren’t all numb at the end of the day. As an extra bonus, I am on a friendly basis with my co-workers, especially the two girls who are sitting next to me.

When I see them on Monday morning, I usually ask “how was your week-end?” While one of the girls answers some variation of “good”, the other always answers “too short”. After a regular two day week-end. After a three day week-end. After Easter week-end. The week-end is always too short.

I have to admit, I don’t understand that. A two day week-end works perfectly for me: I can sleep in a little, I have the time to run some errands, to read, or watch some dvd’s, or play some video games, and then it’s back to the routine of work. When I do get a three day week-end, I tend to spend the extra day lounging in my pajamas, doing various computer stuff. Sitting in front of a computer may be my natural state of being, but I still need to move around, and my apartment isn’t as big as the floor at my job, so even if I get the motivation to move around, I don’t have as much space. I always end up spending too much time sitting, so my legs and butt get numb, and at the end of the day I feel lazy and cranky and not that good about myself.

And then there’s the fact that a full week of week-end would not feel like a week of week-end. Even if you don’t have to go to the office five days out of the week, you have to settle into some sort of routine, and drudgery builds up, and you get bored and wish for a change, because that’s how the human brain works.

Maybe I’m the weird one here, but I suspect that I’m also the happier one in the long run: I don’t spend so much time complaining about the length of the week-end.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: a few random thoughts

I have no idea what to make this blog entry about, so I figured I would just toss a few things out there.

Yesterday, someone I follow on Twitter posted this quote, by Gertrude Stein: “Literature- creative literature- unconcerned with sex, is inconceivable.” Reading that quote felt like a punch in the gut, and even though the person who posted this offers some really good writing advice and exercises, I’m debating whether or not to unfollow. I don’t need more people in m life propagating the pervasive and offensive idea that everything in the universe has to be about sex.

I found out today that someone made a meme generator using the Mongol from Crash Course World History. I love it. This is my favorite.

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I was thinking about Mythbuster (because a week later, I’m not done marathoning yet) and I wondered why the President’s challenge had to be Archimedes’ Solar Death Ray. They busted that myth pretty thoroughly, and more then once. The only thing I can figure is that the President’s challenge was mostly about acknowledging that the Mythbusters are popularizing science, and getting a class of school children participating in a myth without hurting themselves or causing any real damage, and there is little danger in letting even a child hold a mirror.

I should play more society games. The last time I’ve played a game was on Christmas day, when my family and I played Ticket to Ride. The time before that was the previous Christmas, when we played the same game. I don’t remember the time before that. I wonder if I should try to get my relatives to make a semi-regular gaming date. I have a sibling who lives out of town and works a lot, so that could make things problematic, but it might be fun to try and get together whenever everyone is in town, to play a game. I think I’l ask around, see if anyone is interested.

Well, that’s it for today.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: Marathoning Mythbusters

… is what I’m doing right now. Because I forgot that I had a blog post to write today, and I didn’t plan a subject. And also because I’ve bought every season that was available on iTunes, and since I’ve already spent that much money, I might as well enjoy the show. And enjoy the show I do. It really is one of my favorites.

That sentence was probably more impressive when I had a television, and when I watched more then Myhtbusters, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But you know what? Those other two shows have only started this season, and Mythbusters has been on air for over ten years, and I’ve been watching for almost that long, so that says something right there.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: Criticism vs Satire

A propos of nothing in particular.

Merriam-Webster, my dictionary of choice, defines criticism thusly: the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.

It also defines satire thusly: : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc.

I consider myself to be open-minded and reasonable. I can take criticism, not only of my own work, but also of my tastes, especially if I sense that the intent is good. If you think that something I like is problematic for reason XYZ, well, maybe I didn’t notice XYZ, and maybe it won’t affect my enjoyment of the thing I like, but at least I know that you are trying to make the world a better place. If you disagree with my on a matter of morality or of ethic, again I may disagree, but I’ll respect your position.

If you make fun of me, and try to make me look like an idiot for my tastes and my opinions, or my work, for that matter, the best you can hope for is that I’ll dismiss you as an idiot. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if it’s me personally: any kind of person who stoops to satire, I dismiss as an idiot, almost as a rule. (I make the occasional exception for Mel Brooks.)

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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