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August 09, 2010


This kind of thing fascinates me. I am one of those people who can literally get lost in a dictionary or thesaurus. I think that probably makes me a nerd.

Yes, derivations are fascinating - how words change over the centuries, and go back to a common origin. The Russian word for bread, "khlyeb", sounds remote, but is related to our "loaf" (Gothic "hlaf", says my dictionary - common Indo-European origin). But I'm glad I don't have to actually study linguistics! If you look up a language on wikipedia, there are the most complex tables of vowel and consonant changes - people must have an extraordinary memory to deal with them and get degrees in the subject. Thank goodness I can just browse over it!

I liked your latest landscape painting very much. Vivien (Oxford, UK)

PS - I think we have to be so grateful to linguists who fathomed the derivation of languages - it might seem a rather dry lengthy academic struggle to us, but they deciphered the Rosetta Stone, and developed theories about the inter-relation of languages all over the world.

Does this mean you still have to look up "criticize," or is that conversation over and done? I like searches to resolve minor disagreements (especially when I know I must be right) because I end up learning so much in the process. Thanks for sharing these delightful tidbits.

Kim, well, welcome to the dictionary-nerd club!

Vivien, thanks a lot for your comment, I agree with everything you said about gratitude for the linguists! (And I'm delighted that you liked that last painting. Thank you.)

Jan, yes, I *think* the conversation is finished...and I'll leave it to you to guess what it was about to begin with!

I too was wondering about your and J's conversation, of course - even out of testy conversations can come play and creativity and new knowledge :-)

Beth, and 'piangere' in Italian means to cry.

Beating the breast, crying, lamenting....all so far removed from Customer Complaints Departments of airlines, department stores, internet providers, telephone companies etc. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they changed their title to The Lamentations Department? Or even to the
Moan, whine, kvetch, beef, bellyache, chide, yammer, carp, grouse, rail, crab, quarrel, nag, gripe, bespeak, bitch and kick Department?

So many of those are delightfully onomatopoetic! No complaints here - thanks for sharing this.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.