Follow posts tagged #etymology, #mythology, and #linguistics in seconds.Sign up
Blood is thicker than water
A lot of people assume this is an expression that means “Family before everything else”, but they would be surprised to learn the true origins.
“Blood is thicker than water” is shorthand for the expression “The Blood of the Covenant is thicker than the Water of the Womb”
Basically meaning the blood you’ve shed with comrades, or the blood you share in oath (blood brothers) is a stronger bond than the bonds of family which is kind of the total opposite of what people presume from the shorthand.
The term "riding shotgun" was applied originally to the movie depiction of stagecoaches and wagons in the Wild West, in danger of being robbed or attacked. An employee or passenger would sit beside the driver, carrying a shotgun or rifle, to provide an armed response in case of threat to the cargo or passengers.
So next time you call shot gun remember that you’ve got responsibilities
submitted by Nat and Rob (no tumblr)
Happy International Women's Day!
To celebrate, here’s a factlet about the English language:
The word female is not etymologically related to the word male.
Femele is first cited in 1350 in the OED, and although male was first cited around the same time it was written maal, masle, madle or mawl in Middle English. They came to English from completely different Middle French words, and have eventually converged in terms of pronunciation and spelling.
Links to the Word Roots
1. GREG (group)
12. DOL (pain)
13. VOR / VOUR (eat)
14. PAN (all)
15. FOLI (leaf)
17. FID (faith)
18. CULP (blame)
19. CORP (body)
20. CIS (cut)
21. CHRON (time)
It kind of bothers me when people call their subsequent month-long intervals of their relationship, their ‘anniversary’. Because in Latin, anniversary is derived from the adjective, ‘anniversarius’ (returning yearly). Loosely it has been accepted as meaning “they’ve been together for a month” or whatever, but I feel as if this has only come about out of ignorance and incorrect application. I know it’s not really that big of a deal, but the degradation of language really bugs me for some reason.
The Racial Etymology behind the word "zombie"
Most people think of them as the walking dead, a being without a soul or someone with no free will. This is true. But the zombie is not an alien enemy who’s been CGI-ed by Hollywood. He is a New World phenomenon that arose from the mixture of old African religious beliefs and the pain of slavery, especially the notoriously merciless and coldblooded slavery of French-run, pre-independence Haiti. In Africa, a dying person’s soul might be stolen and stoppered up in a ritual bottle for later use. But the full-blown zombie was a very logical offspring of New World slavery.
For the slave under French rule in Haiti — then Saint-Domingue — in the 17th and 18th centuries, life was brutal: hunger, extreme overwork and cruel discipline were the rule. Slaves often could not consume enough calories to allow for normal rates of reproduction; what children they did have might easily starve. That was not of great concern to the plantation masters, who felt that children were a waste of resources, since they weren’t able to work properly until they reached 10 or so. More manpower could always be imported from the Middle Passage.
The only escape from the sugar plantations was death, which was seen as a return to Africa, or lan guinée (literally Guinea, or West Africa). This is the phrase in Haitian Creole that even now means heaven. The plantation meant a life in servitude; lan guinée meant freedom. Death was feared but also wished for. Not surprisingly, suicide was a frequent recourse of the slaves, who were handy with poisons and powders. The plantation masters thought of suicide as the worst kind of thievery, since it deprived the master not only of a slave’s service, but also of his or her person, which was, after all, the master’s property. Suicide was the slave’s only way to take control over his or her own body.
And yet, the fear of becoming a zombie might stop them from doing so. The zombie is a dead person who cannot get across to lan guinée. This final rest — in green, leafy, heavenly Africa, with no sugarcane to cut and no master to appease or serve — is unavailable to the zombie. To become a zombie was the slave’s worst nightmare: to be dead and still a slave, an eternal field hand. It is thought that slave drivers on the plantations, who were usually slaves themselves and sometimes Voodoo priests, used this fear of zombification to keep recalcitrant slaves in order and to warn those who were despondent not to go too far.