The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Do you know why…
…a mortgage is literally a death pledge? …why guns have girls’ names? …why salt is related to soldier?
You’re about to find out…
The Etymologicon (e-t?-‘mä-lä-ji-kän) is:
*Witty (wi-te\): Full of clever humor
*Erudite (er-?-dit): Showing knowledge
*Ribald (ri-b?ld): Crude, offensive
The Etymologicon is a completely unauthorized guide to the strange underpinnings of the English language. It explains: how you get from “gruntled” to “disgruntled”; why you are absolutely right to believe that your meager salary barely covers “money for salt”; how the biggest chain of coffee shops in the world (hint: Seattle) connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what precisely the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.
message. This sheep-skin writing is all rather appropriate, given that the size of books depends upon the size of sheep. Paper was invented in China about two thousand years ago, but we in the West didn’t take up the invention until the fourteenth century. Even then, paper was considered an oriental oddity. The first English paper mill was founded in 1588. Before paper, readers had to make do with one of two alternatives. They could use the papyrus plant, which grew plentifully in Egypt. If you
Athenians wanted to banish somebody for not being classical enough, they would vote on the question by putting little black or white fragments of pottery in a box. White meant he could stay: black meant banishment. These tiles were called ostrakons. Hence ostracism. Ostracism has nothing to do with ostriches but is distantly related to oysters (both words relate to bone). The method and term survives to this day in blackballing. In the gentlemen’s clubs of London, an application for membership
King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples, the home of the pizza, a man named Raffaele Esposito decided to make a pizza fit for the lips of the queen. Esposito was the owner of the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Così, and he got over the garlic problem by simply not using any garlic, an idea that was previously unheard of. He then decided to make the pizza properly patriotic and Italian by modelling it on the colours of the flag: red, white and green. So he added tomatoes for the red (nobody
up into bite-size chunks. The fifth division begins with the words: Legem pone mihi Domine viam iustificationum tuarum et exquiram eam semper Legem pone (‘teach me, O Lord’) therefore became a slang word for a down-payment, because in the psalm-obsessed medieval mind it was the first two words of pay-day. In the centuries since then, the legem has been dropped, but that doesn’t mean that the phrase has disappeared. If you have ever been asked to pony up, it’s only a corruption of legem pone and
you fall overboard, it’s a good thing if somebody throws you a strap. And if you’ve fallen from the ship of solvency and are drowning in a sea of debt, then you very much want somebody to throw you a strap. Of course, it means that you’re currently in debt, but to be strapped for cash is better than to have no cash at all. Oddly, the same metaphor has been invented twice. These days, when a bank is about to go bankrupt, the government throws them a lifeline. This means that the bank survives,