Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Steve Evans: Etymologies 4-9

Here are some more words I was curious about:

4. Folklore

1846, coined by antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-85) as an Anglo-Saxonism (replacing popular antiquaries) and first published in the "Athenaeum" of Aug. 22, 1846, from folk + lore. This word revived folk in a modern sense of "of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally," and opened up a flood of compound formations, eg. folk art (1921), folk-hero (1899), folk-medicine (1898), folk-tale (1891), folk-song (1847), folk-dance (1912). Folk-music is from 1889; in reference to the branch of modern popular music (originally associated with Greenwich Village in New York City) it dates from 1958.

5. Folktale

Interestingly, when I typed folktale into the Online Etymology Dictionary, “myth” popped up:

1830, from Gk. mythos "speech, thought, story, myth," of unknown origin. Myths are "stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial ... the result is religious legend, not myth." [J. Simpson & S. Roud, "Dictionary of English Folklore," Oxford, 2000, p.254] General sense of "untrue story, rumor" is from 1840. Mythical first attested 1678.

However, the Guide to Literary Terms says:

Folk tale - a traditional legend or narrative originating among a people, usually part of an oral tradition and subject to variation in transmission. Folk tales include legends, myths, fables, and the supernatural. Folk tales make up the folklore of a people. The etymology of this word is the same as that of folklore. Examples of folklore include the “Johnny Appleseed” and “Babe, the Blue Ox,” stories of the Old West American culture. See: fable, folklore, legend, myth

6. Tale

O.E. talu "story, tale, the action of telling," from P.Gmc. *talo (cf. Du. taal "speech, language"), from PIE base *del- "to recount, count." The secondary Eng. sense of "number, numerical reckoning" (c.1200) probably was the primary one in Gmc., cf. teller (see tell) and O.Fris. tale, M.Du. tal "number," O.S. tala "number," O.H.G. zala, Ger. Zahl "number." The ground sense of the Mod.Eng. word in its main meaning, then, might have been "an account of things in their due order." Related to talk and tell. Meaning "things divulged that were given secretly, gossip" is from c.1350; first record of talebearer "tattletale" is 1478.

7. Contextualization

From Latin con- "together" and textual "of a written document". It is the act or process of putting information into context; making sense of information from the situation or location in which the information was found.

8. Linguistics

Linguist - 1588, "a master of language, one who uses his tongue freely," from L. lingua "language, tongue" (see lingual). Meaning "a student of language" first attested 1641. Linguistics "the science of languages" is from 1847. The use of linguistic to mean "of or pertaining to language or languages" is "hardly justifiable etymologically," according to OED, but "has arisen because lingual suggests irrelevant associations."

9. Culture

1440, "the tilling of land," from L. cultura, from pp. stem of colere "tend, guard, cultivate, till" (see cult). The figurative sense of "cultivation through education" is first attested 1510. Meaning "the intellectual side of civilization" is from 1805; that of "collective customs and achievements of a people" is from 1867. Slang culture vulture is from 1947. Culture shock first recorded 1940. "For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of the intellect." [William Butler Yeats]

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