Words Are Interesting · 24 February 2024

Words are interesting. But do not take my word for it.

I mentioned the origins of worrywart in my previous blog post. It comes from a comic called Out Our Way, by J.R. Williams and ran from the 1920s to the 1970s. I looked at a couple of the single-panel comics, and decided that they do not necessarily translate to today. At least for me. Of course, the small sample size does not mean that they are not applicable to us today.

Many words have interesting origins. Worrywart is just one of those words. But just think about it. Anybody can make up a word and if it catches on, it might make the English lexicon. Of course, it might help if you spoke Greek or Latin. Then, you could claim that your word was from the one or both of those languages. (Like lexicon. It comes from the Greek lexikon, which means book.) You could make up your word and if it sounded like it might have a Greek or Latin origin, you could just claim it did and make up its origin story. And voilà! A new word is born. (Actually, I am glad it is not that easy.)

I do not have enough word prowess to make up a word that might fit into that category, but I am sure there are people who do. People who obsess over words and have enough creativity to make up some word and its plausible origin, its etymology.

Which is another interesting word. Not because of its origin (which is probably not very interesting), but because of its closeness to the word entomology. Think about it. The two words are just a couple letters apart. One has nine letters, the other ten. The longer word has an added ‘n’ and one different letter (an ‘o’ instead of a ‘y’). And yet the two words mean completely different things. Etymology deals with the origin of words. Entomology is the study of insects. They both come from Greek through slightly different paths, but it is so interesting how they can sound so similar and yet be so different.

Which makes me glad that I do not speak a language that is completely dependent on tones and nuance. Yes, English has nuance, and people certainly need help in enunciation and pronunciation (but that is a completely different story). Then again, enunciation and pronunciation are interesting words in and of themselves. I always wondered how pronunciation lost its ‘o’. Think about it. We pronounce words, but words have their own pronunciation. What happened to the ‘o’ when the verb became a noun? Such horror.

Well, I know that there is much more to thinking about words. People study words. They may even make their careers out of studying words. Which I am not making fun of. I take words seriously, even when I am making fun of them.

I am sure there are many more interesting things about words and many more interesting words than I could ever mention here in a simple blog post. But however much fun I may or may not have made about words. I do think they are interesting. You just need to be curious and find out more. And like I said in the beginning, do not take my word for it. (By the way, is it clever word play, if you did not notice it until later? Especially if it was your own inadvertent word play? Hmm.)

© 2024 Michael T. Miyoshi

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