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Friday, 13 July 2012

Origin of the (Word) Species!


The average person uses apparently uses around 40,000 different words during their lifetime. Presumably starting with "Mama" and ending with "Argh". So that leaves 39,998 that have evolved from somewhere and become standard usage. Those figures apply roughly to all major languages, even though some languages may have 200 different ways to describe a snowflake, and some use tongue clicks instead of actual words which must be limiting.

A surprising number of words, certainly in English, were first used remarkably recently and since WW2, and many were borrowed from other languages (French and German in particular) and countries like India. Bungalow is an excellent example of an Indian word coming into the English language without most people knowing it, while other words like Tiffin and Punkka Wallah come from the colonial Raj days.
Latin and Greek also gave us the origination of many words such as Television (a combination of Latin and Greek), Coliseum (would you believe it!), but not Odeon surprisingly (that's made up of the man who developed the cinema chain!). So many words came from countries (and therefore languages) that have either invaded us, or whom we invaded many, many years ago. The We of course is the English nation, but it applied just as much to any other country / empire.

But what about swear words and where did they come from?

Sex
So many swear words are based on the male and female sexual organs. Some are extreme while others are almost mild and are virtually pally! But whereas a few years ago the use of the F and C words were designed to hurt and shock, they seem to be used in every-day use, especially by the younger generation. in fact in my local pub every other word seems to begin with "F" and that's just the girls. I kid you not! The words still shock the older generation, but their impact has virtually gone and they're now used as adjectives. The main two words have been in the English language since Saxon times and have been virtually unchanged since then. The less dynamic words are mostly fairly recent in origin and tend to be thee more mild and far less shocking.

Religion
It's often said that religion is responsible for so many deaths and wars. That's as true as a gun kills people. It's Man that kills, because Man uses religion as an excuse and the gun as a tool.
Man has also used religion as an originator of so many swear words such as::
Bloody - came from Blood de dieu (mix of French and English, probably Norman)
Cor Blimey - came from God Blind Me.
Jesus Christ - needs no explanation.

Politics
A fairly recent innovation, but the word Politician, or MP in England has become a pretty vile swear word almost on a par with  any noun derivative from a sexual act.

So the three sources of swear words are Sex, Religion and Politics. The three topics we are always warned to avoid in any group conversation.
Now we know why!

Blog on, Dudes!

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