Wor d’oeuvres

Hey folks: listen, I look up etymologies basically daily. And I’m always like couuuuld this be a whole post and doooooo I have that in me? And the answer is usually “god I don’t know but now I feel bad that I haven’t written one and probably won’t.” And then everyone loses! So guess what, I’m going to try just telling you about five or so rad things at a time. Word tapas. WORD’OEUVRES!!

Here for example are a few things I’ve recently noted about words. Many of these notings have come in the course of reading the Spanish translation of “The Golden Compass,” which is delightful. It’s also horrifying, because I now know Pullman wrote it as an indictment of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Anyway, some notings:

1. “Nafta” was already a word in Spanish, before the agreement. It means naphtha–which in turn can refer to a bunch of petroleumish things, both archaicly and modernly. It currently means “gas” in several South American countries.

2. Google Translate’s camera function is banananananas. You look through it and see this for a second:

and then you see this:

It’s not especially accurate, but it can help.

3. “Commode” and “commodify” have the same root, meaning “useful” (among other things).

4. “Zumba,” though listed as an invented word probably combining “zoom” and “samba,” is sooo much like the Spanish for buzz (zumbar, buzzer=zumbador, etc). I mean: that’s gotta be a thing.

5. Zorro means “fox.” I’ve never watched a Zorro anything so I don’t know if that is already obvious, but here’s the part I like: entries about it as a Spanish word say “masc. of zorra.” Ha!

6. Rabies and the Spanish word for rage (rabia) share a root (Latin rabere, “be mad, rave”).

7. “Gander” as in “take a gander” does indeed come from craning ones neck like a goose!

That’s it; more soon ♥️.


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