Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Another curious bundle of historically related words that I find amusing:
the "thesis" in metathesis, synthesis, prosthesis, parenthesis, etc. comes from Greek tithenai "to place, to set", which also got used together with biblio- to give us the word for library in Romance languages (biblioteca/bibliothèque, etc.) and also with apo- to give Latin apoteca, which comes down into English via several different routes as apothecary, boutique, and... bodega. Which was the word I looked up in the first place. Dunno why I find these random collections of different-sounding-but-connected words so endearing. It's like lexical family reunions or something. Also it's just impressive how far across time cause and effect can stretch, when it comes to human-to-human mimesis: the act of my lips coming together when I refer to the bodega on the corner has something to do with ancient greek babies learning to imitate ancient greek parents' mouth noises while they teach them about near and far. Greek gods have no relevance to me, greek philosophy very little*, but greek prepositions still govern the way I speak.

*Okay, you could probably quibble about this one. It still seems to my gut like the total amount of change that words undergo over such vast temporal distances is relatively, impressively small compared to the revision and reworking that ideas experience.
Tags: words

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