Etymology

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Etymology

Postby Azrael » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:10 pm

I didn't know where to put this thread, so I put it here. The management can feel free to move it to a more suitable location.

This thread is about Etymology. Here's a useful online etymology dictionary.

I was inspired to start this thread by a conversation I had with a good friend of mine where we agreed that it was funny how a city in Florida (Boca Raton) was named after a rat's mouth -- the naive literal translation of "boca raton" from Spanish to English is "mouth of a rat".

As it turns out, Boca Raton was not named after the mouth of a rat, in spite of the urban legend to the contrary.

"Boca" is usually used to mean mouth, but in this context it means inlet. "Ratones" is a Spanish nautical term for sharp rocks which could damage a boat. So, "Boca Raton" was probably named after "a shallow inlet with sharp rocks". It would make sense for a sailor to put this on a map, to be aware of hazards.

"Ratonar" means to gnaw at like a "raton" (a rat), which is what "ratones" do to the ship.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Parodite » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:23 pm

Thanks for starting this thread. Interesting.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Juggernaut Nihilism » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:07 pm

I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.
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"The Mullet"

Postby Farcus » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:49 pm

Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.



And rightly so. It's never appropriate to badmouth the Queen Mum.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Ibrahim » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:00 am

Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude


No!
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Re: Etymology

Postby Juggernaut Nihilism » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:32 am

Farcus wrote:
Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.



And rightly so. It's never appropriate to badmouth the Queen Mum.


His Facebook name was Preachda Troof. No lavender. You would have liked him.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:56 am

Parodite wrote:Thanks for starting this thread. Interesting.

You're very welcome. I have a feeling that this will be a fun thread.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:00 am

Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.

Primitive is a fascinating word.
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A Rose is a Rose. - Mo Zingi

Postby Farcus » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:57 am

Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:
Farcus wrote:
Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.



And rightly so. It's never appropriate to badmouth the Queen Mum.


His Facebook name was Preachda Troof. No lavender. You would have liked him.



I was thinking more of the 'kinship-based tribal societies' side of your remark when I mentioned the House of Windsor. House of Tewdwr would perhaps have been zingyer. :lol:
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Re: A Rose is a Rose. - Mo Zingi

Postby Ibrahim » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:40 am

Farcus wrote:
Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:
Farcus wrote:
Juggernaut Nihilism wrote:I recently got tsk tsk'd by some kind of back to Africa black power dude on Tinker's Facebook page because he apparently didn't know the etymology behind "primitive" and became offended at my use of it to refer to early kinship-based tribal societies.



And rightly so. It's never appropriate to badmouth the Queen Mum.


His Facebook name was Preachda Troof. No lavender. You would have liked him.



I was thinking more of the 'kinship-based tribal societies' side of your remark when I mentioned the House of Windsor. House of Tewdwr would perhaps have been zingyer. :lol:


Maybe they will square off in the race war that will inevitably follow an Obama victory and the Stalinization of America.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Enki » Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:37 am

In all fairness, 'primitive', as a word has been used to oppress people throughout the ages. I didn't want to weigh in on that conversation because you weren't using it that way, but as Malik said, it's a dogwhistle.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Ibrahim » Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:46 pm

Enki wrote:In all fairness, 'primitive', as a word has been used to oppress people throughout the ages. I didn't want to weigh in on that conversation because you weren't using it that way, but as Malik said, it's a dogwhistle.


What was the sentence? I've observed previously that Juggs' language re: African-Americans is suspicious to say the least, but it could also be an unjustified accusation.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Juggernaut Nihilism » Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:41 pm

Because I'm a masochist, and because I've realized this place is boring if I don't fight with Ibrahim... The background is Erek posted one of those annoying Facebook meme pictures with a story about how an anthropologist offered some African children a basket of fruit for winning a race to a tree, but instead of competing, they joined hands, walked to the fruit and distributed it evenly amongst themselves. Erek's only question was if anyone knew the name of the anthropologist, and the back to Africa black power friend of his came in to call him racist because, he said, if it were a story of white children sharing, Tinker would have accepted it as gospel without demanding to know who the anthropologist was (this really happened). My first response to Erek was that the story seemed apocryphal, since it was unattributed and a little to perfect, and that it would seem more realistic if the kids had raced to the fruit, but then the winner had chosen to distribute the fruit to his friends, since the prestige of being a provider is still a healthy feeling in many tribal societies. Then, surprise, I got called a racist too. Tinker said something about how the whole world should be like those kids, and I bent to my usual task of disabusing the delusional:

"However, the wish that "the whole world" could be "a little more Ubuntu" is unfortunately based on a misunderstanding of the way these traditional people usually worked. Traditional tribes are kinship-based societies. All affection and sense of egalitarianism was reserved for those within the kin group. The primary mode of interaction with non-kin tribes was outright hostility. There are many people in the world today, most people even, who share what they get with their own family while ignoring the needs of others. And we are, in many ways, less hostile to non-kin than most traditional peoples (since, in the nation-state system, kin ties have been loosened and replaced with competing loyalties to state, religion, party, which are merely symbolic substitutes for the same in-group/out-group dynamic going on in simpler kinship-based traditional societies... we are more tolerant of non-kin neighbors, though we project our collective shadow onto other nation-states, religious groups, etc).

Idealization of primitives is usually based on this failure to acknowledge that their positive feelings were reserved for an "in-group", which is simply the way virtually all human beings work since that is a basic aspect of human nature. The mistake was generally made because when anthropologists observed such peoples, they were isolated and only among others in the "in-group", with "out-group" contact being rare. We interact with people with whom we have no real shared identity on a daily basis in our society and, in many ways, we do a halfway decent job of keeping things civil...

It can certainly be applied meta-ethnically. We've been working on that project for some time. But we cannot transcend basic in-group/out-group thinking, IMO. We can substitute ethnic in-groups (which is simply the normal mode of operating for all mammals: giving preference to one's genetic line... I assume even you would, if faced with the choice, save your child instead of a child you don't know) for symbolic in-groups (like nation-states, sports teams, street gangs, religions), but in order to maintain group trust and cohesion, man seems to have a need to put all his negative feelings "somewhere else". Whether this means putting it on a scapegoat in an annual ritual and running the wretched beast out of town or sacrificing it, or imagining another national or religious group or political party to be the receptacle of all human evil, people have always worked this way and have shown no sign that this can be changed (although the target can be changed, and the way they are dealt with can be sublimated).

I think that the best thing that can be hoped for is that we can find less destructive ways to deal with hatred. Eliminating hatred among men is simply not one of the options (unless aliens invade and we are able to decide that all mankind is now a family compared to the alien threat). So if we can, say, hate another group and imagine that they are despicable and not to be trusted (unlike our own group, which is comparatively good, peaceful, well-intentioned, etc and therefore worthy of common affection, and which I am happy and proud to be a part of, etc), but instead of fighting a war against them, beat the lavender out of them in the Olympics or the race to the moon or the competition to create a technology that will filter CO2 out of the atmosphere, etc... that would be the best thing we could hope for."
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Etymology of "Berlin" vs folk etymology

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:13 pm

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from wiki.answers:

The etymology of Berlin is unknown. It is almost certainly derived from a Slavonic language, probably the Polabian stem berl- meaning swamp, marsh. In folk etymology in Germany it is (wrongly) said to be derived from Bärlein - little bear. However, the diminutive ending -lein is South German and the stress on the second syllable (cf. Demmin, Lehnin, Stettin) make this most implausible. This has not prevented the bear from being adopted in the arms of the city.

from wikipedia:

Berlin's name is recorded in Latin language documents as "Berolina". The etymology of the name is uncertain, but may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl- "swamp".

from etymonline:

Berlin: city in Brandenburg, capital of Germany, traditionally by folk-etymology from Ger. Bär "bear," but likely from a Slavic source, cf. Old Polabian berl-, birl- "swamp," in reference to the old city's location on low, marshy ground along the River Spree. A flashpoint city in the Cold War, the Berlin airlift ran from June 28, 1948 to May 12, 1949. The Berlin Wall began to be built Aug. 15, 1961, and was effective until Nov. 9, 1989.
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podunk

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:34 pm

Podunk: legendary small town, 1846, originally the name of a small group of Indians who lived around the Podunk River in Connecticut; the tribe name is in colonial records from 1656 (as Potunck), from southern New England Algonquian (Mohegan or Massachusetts) Potunk, perhaps an alteration of ptukohke "neck, corner of land;" or, on another authority, from pautaunke, from pot- "to sink" + locative suffix -unk, thus "a boggy place." Its popularity as the name of a typical (if mythical) U.S. small town dates from a series of witty "Letters from Podunk" which ran in the "Buffalo Daily National Pilot" newspaper beginning Jan. 5, 1846.
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Etymology of "Admiral"

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:39 pm

Admiral: c.1200, "Saracen commander," from O.Fr. amirail (12c.) "Saracen military commander; any military commander," probably ultimately from Arabic title amir-ar-rahl "chief of the transport," officer in the Mediterranean fleet, from amir "leader;" influenced by L. ad-mirabilis (see admire). Italian form almiraglio, Sp. almirante are from confusion with Arabic words in al-. Meaning "highest-ranking naval officer" is from early 15c. As a type of butterfly, from 1720, possibly a corruption of admirable.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Juggernaut Nihilism » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:22 pm

My favorite word is "ma". It's a false cognate, meaning that it means the same thing in several languages that have no known historical connections. "Ma" refers to "mother" in languages as diverse as English and Swahili. There are a few theories about this, but the simplest (and, IMO, most convincing) is that "ma" is simply one of the first "words" a human infant begins to make and that this became associated with its primary reference, the mother. "Ma" is simply the word that results when you make a sound with your mouth closed and then open your mouth: mmmmm-a... mmmmmm-a. So, according to this theory, it is the mother who learns her title from the infant, rather than teaching the infant to call her "ma" or "mama". The number of languages in which this phenomenon is present, and the rich religious and philophical traditions that have grown out of it, indicates that this development must have taken place very early in the history of human language.

The Sanskrit root "ma" means "to measure", as in "maya" - "to measure forth", or to measure out and demarcate a part from the whole. There is an element of name magic here, I think, the idea that the giving of a name brings something into being: that is, the world exists as a whole and individual "things" separate out from that whole and come into being when they are named, marked off, and called into the foreground by consciousness. Anyway, the Sanskrit root "ma" also means "to make, to create, to bring forth", and we can see that these two senses of the word are related. So, according to the theory above, it is likely that infants taught their mothers their title "ma", and that the word then came to be associated with creation and bring forth. This, rather than the opposite situation, in which the society had the word "ma" which meant "to create or bring forth", applied it to mothers for obvious reasons, and then taught babies to call their progenitors "mama". This is an important distinction because it indicates that motherhood is the primordial model for all creative action, rather than simply being one example of the abstract concept "to create".

Mother continues to get more interesting as she develops. From "ma", we get "mater", "matter", and "material". But we also get "matrix". Now, "matrix" is defined as "A situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained." It is not content, but context. It refers to the underlying, in-forming structure which allows forms to come into being all. In Bronze Age cosmologies, the primary cult was of the goddess-as-matrix. The goddess herself was the universe, time and space, the matrix within which we live, breathe, and have our being. The gods were secondary; mostly they were operative principles that existed within the same structural matrix as man, though their place on the hierarchy was more exalted. In Egypt, the great god, the solar disc, passed through the body of the goddess each night to be reborn again each morning. And then we have "matter". The association of the female with the realm of matter - that is, life in the world, in time and space, in the cycle of birth, maturity, death, and regeneration - is ancient. But its post-Bronze Age divorce from the realm of "spirit" - the divorce against which all of Heidegger's work is a protest - was an alteration that has shaped the social order for most of the last four thousand years.

When the nomadic hunters and herders swept down from the steppes and descended from the deserts upon the sedentary goddess-worshipping agriculturalists, they brought with them their active warrior gods. Where they conquered, they inverted the mythology of the primordial goddess, turning her and her titanic children into demons. The gods they carried with them were not associated with the ever-revolving and ever-recurring cycles of life and time, but were conscious actors, in the image of man, battling it out for supremacy. The deep, cthonic goddess, long associated affectionately with the serpent, was turned into a dragon or a Gorgon, slain by a conquering hero god who prototypically cut up her body and used its parts to build the universe. Indeed, in this mythological inversion, the universe was built, not grown. In these patriarchal cosmologies, we see a distinction drawn between the realm of matter and spirit. That is, between the heavy, earthly, time-bound, ever-changing world of life and death, and the eternal realm of light without shadow, of which the realm of matter was but a passing shadow. Thus, whereas in the the Bronze Age Aegean sacrifices were buried in the ground, with the coming of the gods of Olympus they are offered to the mountain tops. The female, tied inextricably to the lunar cycle, associated with her serpent shedding skin to be reborn anew, was irrevocably associated with the realm of matter, and was devalued in favor of one or another of her conquerers, and as man set about his task - the one we are near bringing to conclusion or catastrophe - of chopping up the body of the goddess to create the world in his image, that is, of setting to order the fearful chaos of nature, the female has been a source of distrust and fascination, awe and fear ever since. And we men, forever children - more on this - have generally handled the ambivalence the way any child would: unsure if we want to steal a kiss or pull a pigtail, so we burn witches outside the very cathedral where we venerate our most merciful mother MA-ry, seated with her holy infant (who is her husband in his Father form) like Isis with Horus, and countless other goddesses with their son-spouse. Mary, by the way, does not seem to be related to this ancient root, but is the English version of Hebrew Miriam. Miriam is traditionally associated with the verb "mara" which means "to be disobedient or rebellious". So here we see the prototypical woman represented from the perspective of the post-Bronze Age patriarchy.

This is all very useful for us men as we go about setting the world aright, blissfully unconscious of how our very own religions have been playing a trick on us. For as we play our games, nodding our heads and silently agreeing to keep pretending that our games of primary importance, something in us knows that our role is secondary and almost superfluous window dressing to the real main event of the human species, which is the continuation of life through female. It took us until Freud to elucidate something that had been known to prophets and embedded in our language since time immemorial. An infant's primary reference is mama. The rules and dictates and rituals and roles of the social order - that ordered realm of consciously conceived gamesmanship - are so many gods competing for precedence, each insisting in its own primacy. But the basic structure of the mind in which these ideas live is nothing less than the mother herself, that primary reference interiorized. And since the world we experience is a projection of the whole psyche, it was not a simple superstition to say that the goddess-mother was the universe, but the expression of a basic psychic fact.

So what we have here is a very interesting possibility: Mothers learned to be called "ma" from their infants, and the word - as well as the female and motherhood - then came to be the model and basis of all creative acts, and we furthermore understood in our language something which eventually became utterly rejected or repressed, namely that the Mother is the informing matrix of all our experience and our model for the world. The extent to which this was repressed - that is, the success with which one Father or another pressed his claim to primacy - is perfectly proportional to a number of disastrous social neuroses, though it has enabled much of the cultural and technological progress that has taken place throughout history.

Incidentally, "papa" is also a widespread false-cognate. It is theorized by some that there is a connection between the male being associated with an active principle and plosive nature of the word "papa". Also, it should be said that there are rare exceptions to these false-cognates, such as where the plosive "baba" refers to grandmother in Slavic countries, and there are a few places where "mama" refers to the father. But these are exceptions.

This is one of my favorite topics, but I ought to stop before things get out of hand. For more on serpents, and the ancient relationship to woman and the goddess, I wrote another long and boring post in another thread (I don't know how to make it link directly to the post so you have to scroll down):

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=878&start=50
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Re: Etymology

Postby Enki » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:44 am

The letter Mem in Hebrew is considered a 'Mother'.
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Re: Etymology

Postby YMix » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:58 pm

A not very philosophical exchange became peripatetic and moved to Hell.
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Re: Etymology

Postby noddy » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:26 am

ive mentioned before how much i enjoy how moot changed from the meeting of free men to argue out changes in society and law, to a pointless argument with no clear outcome.

it puts the whole power of rational discussion meme that is allegedly modern democracy into perspective.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Ibrahim » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:39 pm

noddy wrote:ive mentioned before how much i enjoy how moot changed from the meeting of free men to argue out changes in society and law, to a pointless argument with no clear outcome.

it puts the whole power of rational discussion meme that is allegedly modern democracy into perspective.


But do the two terms share the same etymology? Or are do they arrive at their present usage from different terms that were just homonyms?
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Re: Etymology

Postby Azrael » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:43 pm

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Re: Etymology

Postby noddy » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:35 am

yeh i saw the online dictionary summaries, ill have to try and chase it up fully one day.

i believe they all come from the same germanic root word, it does depend on exact usage history.
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Re: Etymology

Postby YMix » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:57 am

Romanian has a similar case: the words "catastif" (register) and "cadastru" (cadaster) both come from the Greek word "katástihon". The former came directly from Greek, while the latter came through Latin.
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Re: Etymology

Postby Enki » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:40 pm

noddy wrote:ive mentioned before how much i enjoy how moot changed from the meeting of free men to argue out changes in society and law, to a pointless argument with no clear outcome.

it puts the whole power of rational discussion meme that is allegedly modern democracy into perspective.


That's probably because non-hierarchical assemblies usually devolve into pointless bickering.
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