Language is a funny thing. Both funny peculiar and funny amusing. You’ll probably laugh at this, but it’s okay. Until recently, a certain person thought etymology was a hospital department. Sounds like one doesn’t it? “We’ve got to get him down to etymology!” the doctor shouted.
It’s curious how our brains come to put words in different categories when we hear them for the first time. The etymology thing was probably my brain forming a malaproprism — in this case for epidemiology. And isn’t that an odd word, malapropism? If you don’t know what it means, I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up: n. the comic misuse of a word by confusion with one of a similar sound. Malapropism comes from a play by some dead guy called Sheridan. There was this funny woman called Mrs. Malaprop in his famous play “The Rivals.”
There are countless examples of how words spring from invention, boredom, altered states of mind or any manner of what is almost always a matter of some necessity. A lot of English words stem from German and Latin. Shakespeare is responsible for tons of expressions we use today but never realize they stem from Shakespeare (we’ll save those for another time).
Like Shakespeare, any form of art — whether it be composing a song, painting a landscape, deconstructing SpongeBob or blogging — is bound to give us new words. “The Rivals” fits in there.
So, I got wheeled down to etymology by Eric, who introduced me to the word and who pushed me through those doors into this strange yet interesting place. I could see the sign above as he wheeled me in: etymology.
A note of warning and/or encouragement: Words will occasionally be made up here. We’ll all have a chance to contribute to this ageless thing called language. Think of it as simply a barroom conversation, not an exercisein erudite analysis. Please join us. You can always pull out your I.V.’s and leave. We hope you stay. You more than likely will turn out to be the surgeon. Afterall, it’s just language.