Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kristy's Etymology #11-20

#11 universal

c.1374, from O.Fr. universel (12c.), from L. universalis "of or belonging to all," from universus "all together, whole, entire" (see universe). In mechanics, a universal joint (1676) is one which allows free movement in any direction; in theology universalism (1805) is the doctrine of universal salvation (universalist in this sense is attested from 1626). Universal product code is recorded from 1974.

In storytelling I hear a lot of talk about finding the universal truth of the story. What is it in the story that connects the audience to it, even if it is about something specific that happened to you. The goal is to have the story be an experience for the whole, entire audience. So, thinking of storytelling as an experience for all involved I wanted to look up experience. It seems like the sense of "feel, undergo"

1377, from O.Fr. experience, from L. experientia "knowledge gained by repeated trials," from experientem (nom. experiens), prp. of experiri "to try, test," from ex- "out of" + peritus "experienced, tested." The v. (1533) first meant "to test, try;" sense of "feel, undergo" first recorded 1588.

#13 speak

O.E. specan, variant of sprecan "to speak" (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, pp. sprecen), from P.Gmc. *sprekanan (cf. O.S. sprecan, O.Fris. spreka, M.Du. spreken, O.H.G. sprehhan, Ger. sprechen "to speak," O.N. spraki "rumor, report"), cognate with L. spargere "to strew" (speech as a "scattering" of words; see sparse). The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from infl. of Dan. spage "crackle," in a slang sense of "speak" (cf. crack in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in M.Du. (speken) and O.H.G. (spehhan). Not the primary word for "to speak" in O.E. ("Beowulf" prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" cf. Gk. agoreuo "to speak," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").

Interesting that rumor comes up and so does to scatter or to strew. Rumor has a negative connotation but scatter and strew makes me think of storytellers who tell others to share the stories they heard them tell with others. It spreads.

1602, "the science of morals," pl. of M.E. ethik "study of morals" (1387), from O.Fr. ethique, from L.L. ethica, from Gk. ethike philosophia "moral philosophy," fem. of ethikos "ethical," from ethos "moral character," related to ethos "custom" (see ethos). The word also traces to Ta Ethika, title of Aristotle's work. Ethic "a person's moral principles," attested from 1651.

We talk a lot about the ethics of storytelling, especially when it comes to telling other people's stories. Looking at what ethics is made me want to look up morals because that shows up a number of times in this etymology.

#15 moral (adj.) Look up moral at
c.1340, "of or pertaining to character or temperament" (good or bad), from O.Fr. moral, from L. moralis "proper behavior of a person in society," lit. "pertaining to manners," coined by Cicero ("De Fato," II.i) to translate Gk. ethikos (see ethics) from L. mos (gen. moris) "one's disposition," in pl., "mores, customs, manners, morals," of uncertain origin. Meaning "morally good, conforming to moral rules," is first recorded c.1386 of stories, 1638 of persons. Original value-neutral sense preserved in moral support, moral victory, with sense of "pertaining to character as opposed to physical action." The noun meaning "moral exposition of a story" is attested from c.1500. Moralistic formed 1865.

Proper behavior. So when we talk about ethics within the storytelling community we are talking about what is proper along with customs and manners.

#16 brain

O.E. brægen, from P.Gmc. *bragnam, from PIE base *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (cf. Gk. brekhmos "front part of the skull"). The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Fig. sense of "intellectual power" is from 1393; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. Brainstorm "brilliant idea, mental excitement" is 1849; verb is from 1920s; brainsick (1483) meant "mad, addled." Brain-dead is from 1976; brain teaser is from 1923. Brainwashing is 1950, a literal translation of Chinese xi nao. Though it had been occasionally used since early 1900s, brain trust became current 1933, in ref. to the intellectuals gathered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as advisors.

I think about the memory a lot and the role storytelling has to play in memory. We talk about which part of the brain controls what and where storytelling fits in. I love how in this it says that a brainstorm is "mental excitement".

1749, from L. sensorium, from sensus, pp. of sentire "to perceive, feel" (see sense).

Elizabeth Ellis shared with us last session that we need to high five our stories, add the five senses into it. This helps the audience perceive or feel what is going on.

c.1250, from Anglo-Fr. memorie, from L. memoria, from memor "mindful, remembering," from PIE base *men-/*mon- "think." Computer sense is from 1946.

"I am grown old and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it." [Mark Twain]

Memorize is 1591 in sense of "commit to writing," the mental meaning is from 1838.

This ties in with the brain. I'm interested in learning more about how storytelling fits in with memory. How does it help us remember things or be mindful of things?

O.E. gemynd "memory, thinking, intention," P.Gmc. *ga-menthijan (cf. Goth. muns "thought," munan "to think;" O.N. minni "mind;" Ger. minne, originally "memory, loving memory"), from PIE base *men- "think, remember, have one's mind aroused" (cf. Skt. matih "thought," munih "sage, seer;" Gk. memona "I yearn," mania "madness," mantis "one who divines, prophet, seer;" L. mens "mind, understanding, reason," memini "I remember," mentio "remembrance;" Lith. mintis "thought, idea," O.C.S. mineti "to believe, think," Rus. pamjat "memory"). "Memory" is one of the oldest senses, now almost obsolete except in old expressions such as bear in mind, call to mind. Phrase time out of mind is attested from 1414. To pay no mind "disregard" is recorded from 1916, Amer.Eng. dialect. To have half a mind to "to have one's mind half made up to (do something)" is recorded from 1726. Mind-reading is from 1882. Mind-boggling is from 1964.

Sticking with the theme. "Have one's mind aroused" is that what storytellers do? Through story they help arouse a mind in a means of engaging the audience? Or getting the audience involved? The audience uses there mind to find that universal of the story?

1412, "coming from the eye or sight" (as a beam of light), from L.L. visualis "of sight," from L. visus "sight," from visus, pp. of videre "to see" (see vision). Meaning "relating to vision" is first attested 1603. The noun meaning "photographic film or other visual display" is first recorded 1951. Visualize (1817) is first attested in, and perhaps was coined by, Coleridge

We create pictures with storytelling. I've been told to visualize myself in a story, get to know it before I tell it. The audience as well is visualizing the story as they hear it.

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