Etymology. Let me enlighten you, for those who refused to pay attention in grammar classes, or those who used to step out and get a puff. By the way that thing is dangerous as hell; I guess you already know that. This is the study of words. The origin and usage. I might add the misuse too, which is highly rampant in the social media. Facebook being the main culprit. Many times a chat pops up, xaxa, uko pouwa? Where are we? 4th grade? I might not unfriend you but you must be sure you will never see me on your chat stream again. Social media is on life support as far as grammar is concerned, but that is not what this post is about. It’s about how we are going to eliminate grammar Nazi’s .I personally recommend we arrest them, line them on the wall, unmask them, and call them grammar super-heroes. I would like to be enlisted as one of the avengers, if you don’t mind. Preferably grammar Tony Stark. The post is not about that too.
I love words, how they twine and intertwine together to bring about rich sentences. How they turn out to be confusing and sometimes irrelevant. I also believe in their simplicity. The power to pass on loads of information without digging in to dictionaries. This brings me to the next mini-milestone of the post. Lexicography. The art of compiling dictionaries. Hunting and gathering of words, determining where they go and how we use them. Lexicographers are the captain America of language. They are Idd Amin of words, dictating how we use the words. Where they fit and where they don’t. Damn it, I envy them.
The words have always been there, continually shifting and changing. Through the Victorian age, much publicized by Shakespeare. Writing of Shakespeare, have you read Hamlet in Klingon? Have you said “tah pagh tahbe’ to be or not be? No? I thought so, you don’t know Shakespeare yet. To our age, the normal humans who use proper language and some unidentified species which is definitely not homo sapiens using things like ur, tho, y?,r and the ilk. We were not talking about this too.
We are talking about superstitious, a fascinating word isn’t it? It gets your word tongue dripping, or does it? Anyway, it’s a great word. Say it loud, okay, tell me you don’t feel like you want to laugh. Is it tickling your fancy? Yes? I knew it. Let’s forget lexicography, let’s forget its meaning. I can have real fun with it ‘superstitious, ingest the digested tomatoes’ ‘sleeping pill superstitious’. You can come up with anything and still feel good about superstitious.
To arrive at superstitious, the word has been having a centuries old journey. Evolving from the French in 14c, the word was superstitieux. Sounds fancier than the present word. It also evolved from latin, superstitionem. These are two scenarios. Whose idea was it to do away with the much cooler –eux and replace it with –ous? Were they drunk? Were they high on something cheap, or illegal like romulan ale? Did some sort of speech impediment catch up with the general populace and they were unable to pronounce the –eux? Did the English Kingdom fail to agree on something with French and it was decided all the words traditionally fancied up by French be dropped or modified? We might never know but we can be sure whoever dropped the fancier version was in no way affiliated to the French and he was also high on something, cheap.
Superstitionem, the latin version. Did it have another meaning before it was modified by the Englishmen? ‘Hey Joe, superstitionem me above the stool, I need to get a drink’. And Joe would superstitionem the subject over. You say the world is round, the church says its flat and we will fall off the edge, you superstitionem son of a …(feel free to insert any metaphor you superstitionem here)
See how lexicographers have a hard time dictating to you what you should use and what you shouldn’t? I would like to take one out, and not on a date.
The word truly had a very bumpy and uncomfortable journey to a point where you can use it freely without being guillotined.