Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Etymology and Acronyms and Innocence

At fifty nine and three quarters exactly,  I might have realised by now that 'Jaundice' comes from the French for Yellow.
I was born with Jaundice.
I learnt French at school.
But it took John Humphries and a question on last weeks 'Mastermind' to help me put two and two together.

Similarly, when I was about 55 and three quarters and was probably on my way to the Post Office, I had the dull thud  exciting 'ting' of realisation that an envelope was called that because its 'en-vel-opes' whats inside.
I'm interested in the origins of words but that commonplace one hadn't ever made me think before.

So you may not be surprised to know that on a recent visit to an unfamiliar health centre, I saw a notice for a gum clinic.
I went to the counter to ask about it for someone I knew who hadn't been to the dentist for a long time and was suffering.
They looked at me pityingly and pointed to the bigger picture. The whole board was a campaign for young people, against STDs. (And I do know that does not refer the old fashioned name for direct phone calls).
I wondered what people might be doing that would cause them to have gum problems.

The other night I strayed into the distant areas of the TV network to a programme called ' Embarrassing bodies' and now I know that it has nothing to do with Gums. Google it if you don't know what it means. (But cover your eyes if you are of a nervous disposition)

I have an embarrassing mind.

That last post was so boring.
I could have called it 'Canvassing opinion' but I didn't think of it until I replied to a comment.

24 comments:

Mermaid's Purse said...

Well I learnt something new today lol! And the last post wasn't boring ....... some of us like to see how one arrives at the destination! x

Shoshi said...

Oh Jackie - a lady after my own heart!!! I have a passion for etymology that I got from my dad, and we've spent many happy hours sharing various discoveries! It's funny how the most obvious ones often pass us by until prompted by something quite simple.

My dad was once president of a professional society whose badge of office was a ribbon with an amethyst hanging from it. He decided to look up the etymology of "amethyst" and discovered that it is a combination of two Greek words, "a-" meaning "without," and "methystos," meaning inebriation or drunkenness. Further research revealed that the ancient Greeks used to believe that if you drank wine out of a cup made of this mineral, you would not get drunk!

I have to say that I have not yet tried this.

I'm really glad to have found your blog! So much of interest! Keep the posts coming!!

Shoshi

Rachel said...

Language is so weird sometimes that it's a wonder it works at all, isn't it!
I enjoyed that post, by the way...

Carol Q said...

having worked in a hospital or thereabouts all my working life your post made me chuckle Jackie. everything gets shortened in medicine and you end up sounding like you're talking a foreign language sometimes.

Heather said...

I have never found your posts boring. The current use and misuse of words gets ever more confusing. So many words seem to have half a dozen different meanings, I'm amazed that people from other countries ever master our language. Quite a few fellow countrymen and women haven't mastered it either!

Deb said...

I love it! Often a word will get my attention for no reason at all and I'll look at it from as many perspectives as I can find. Hold it up to the light and suss it out thoroughly. Dig up it's roots.

Rosie said...

I've done EXACTLY the same, and drawn the same (wrong) conclusions. Thank you for enlightening me .... but as a a 57.5 year old I still think its confusing. Why can't they say what they mean???

Twiglet said...

My ex-nurse sister will be laughing at me but I didn't know that's what they call it these days!!

Jennifer Tetlow said...

I love those realisation about things moments - makes me feel all clever and then suddenly afraid and too wary to mention it as mostly others have arrived there ages ago. Whenever I asked my mother 'why' she would reply, be...cause, stressing both syllables with a pause between - and for many years I thought she was saying Big Horse, and made this my reply when I was asked any question!

Greedy Nan said...

I'm with you [and Rosie]. I had no idea what gum clinic was and why would we? I looked it up on google to find out.

Kat Campau said...

I enjoy knowing the history of words too. I love your work. It is fantastic, makes me happy.

Su said...

I love words and all things connected with them too! I only realised the other day that definite and finite must come from the same root, at least I can now remember how to spell definite!

Menopausal musing said...

I had to look it up and my little eyes widened....... you live and learn..........

Chrissie said...

What a giggle!

I had similar 'dohh' moments with Finisterre and delicatessen.

Locket Pocket said...

I love words too and drive Dottie mad explaining them to her (the other two little Lockets have yet to benefit from my teaching on this subject!!!) A very funny post! Lucy x

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

I'm feeling a bit naive now. Perhaps I won't get enlightenment until I am in my fifties ;o)

Have a lovely Easter weekend
Spring blessings
Carolyn ♥

Gina said...

Haven't a clue what Gum clinic could possibly mean... off to check with Mr Google!

A time to dance said...

I am with you Jackie...but my discoverys always me look so silly ...I am a constant source of amusement to those around me...

Emma said...

Having lived with 3 teenage boys I've watched the 'lets talk about sex' type programs & found out things I really could have lived without & then felt like my grandparents.

Love you loving your stitching.

Robin Mac said...

What wonderful posts Jackie, and how naive are we oldies - I had to google to find out about GUM clinics too! I had to laugh though. I love words also, but I get very cross at the constant misuse of them these days, but have to remind myself that language lives and has to evolve! If I say it often enough, perhaps I will not get so cross. Have a happy Easter.

diane.ca said...

I had to check out what GUM clinic meant as well. Live and learn ;-)

Jan said...

I guess at a mere 56 years old I am not old enough (or too old?) to know what you are talking about. I had to look up GUM and embarrassing bodies. I guess that is the "learn something new every day" bit for today.
Have you heard of the daily email called "A Word A Day" or AWAD. I get an email from them every weekday with a new word, it's origins, how it is used and various other info about it. The words for one week are somehow related. Anyway,it is a fun thing to read each day and I learn from it. It is free, btw. I can send you a link, if you'd like.
I always enjoy reading your posts and looking at your photos. I never find them boring, keep 'em up I say!

Cathy said...

Those embarrassing bodies really are embarrassing aren't they. It amazes me that people don't mind the world and their mother seeing their most intimate bits and being privy to personal snippets that should remain secret..I think anyway. You won't be seeing my embarrassing body anywhere near a TV camera..haha.

I am with you on words. Fascinating things. Our English language is such an amalgam of so many different cultures. I have heard that the French hate "Franglaise " and have tried to stamp it out but I enjoy the French elements of the English language. It gives it a certain je ne sais quoi.

Wabbit said...

Sometimes I wonder why those particular sounds came to mean what they do. Yes, we are soul sisters!
;-))



Mo
st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Dear Anonymous.....

....don't waste your time...I have a spam filter.