etymology

The conscious mind of Emily Dickinson

There is an occurrence in Emily Dickinson’s verse; it is beyond mere coincidence or unaware habit. Noticed, it helps see her light musing with Greek and Latin.

 

(Time and Eternity, XVIII, Playmates) Latin: collusor, companion at play; condiscipulus, school-mate; angelus, a messenger, an angel; lapillus, small stone, pebble (marble?); lusus, a game;  Greek: ὁμηλυσία, omelusia, companionship.

 

God permits industrious angels
Afternoons to play.
I met one, — forgot my school-mates,
All, for him, straightway.

 

God calls home the angels promptly
At the setting sun;
I missed mine. How dreary marbles,
After playing Crown!

 

The inspiration is morpho-phonemic. Let us try a few more pieces. (Life, XXIII, Unreturning) ἀνάπλυσις, anaplusis, washing or rinsing out; ἀνήλυσις, anelusis, going up, return; ἤλυσις, elusis, step, gait; lenunculus, a small sailing-vessel, bark, skiff (the toddling little boat).

 

‘T was such a little, little boat
That toddled down the bay!
‘T was such a gallant, gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

 

‘T was such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the coast;
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!

 

We can compare the Greek -upo/ypo- for I asked no other thing (Life, XII, p. 213): ἰσότυπος, isotypos, shaped alike, συνυπόπτωσις, synypoptosis, simultaneous presentation to the senses; Latin cauponarius, a male shopkeeper, tradesman, ποπτερνίς, upopternis, a knob (a kind of a button that can twirl, in the modern use), and πo, below, looking a picture up and down (as Brazil on a map).

 

I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.

 

Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”

 

Feel also welcome to read Why I stay with the first print.

 

No men, women, children, or houses with the pie

William Jones was a reported hyperpolyglot. He learned Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and basic Chinese, says Wikipedia, adding he knew thirteen languages thoroughly, and another twenty-eight reasonably well. This makes a total of 41 languages.

 

William Jones

 

Mr. Jones wrote The Sanscrit Language, to tell that Greek and Latin had a common root with Sanskrit, and there must have been a Proto-Indo-European language, PIE in short, that originated contemporary European tongues.

 

Is there a root PIE vocabulary? A reasonably good acquaintance with a language should encompass the words woman, man, child, and house. Let us compare these words in Latin, Greek, English, Russian, Polish, German, French, and Sanskrit.

 

WOMAN

Latin: femina; Greek: gyne; English: woman; Russian: zenshchina; Polish: kobieta; German: Weib; French: femme; Sanskrit: nari.

 

MAN

Latin: vir; Greek: andros; English: man; Russian: muzshtschina; Polish: mężczyzna; German: Mann; French: homme; Sanskrit: naro.

 

I do not know Sanskrit. I can only compare resources. The morpheme man, quoted by supporters of the PIE, yet seems to refer to thinking, not gender, whereas it is common lore that masculinity is not strictly synonymous with pensiveness. 😉

 

CHILD

Latin: putillus; Greek: pais; child; Russian: rebionok; Polish: dziecko; German: Kind; French: enfant; Sanskrit: sutah.

 

Words for children would have varied, in Sanskrit. The language is to have taken origin in rigid social stratification, for status and ancestry. “Children of men” made another name, napraja. We thus could not say, let us look for a common root with the PIE, because it must have been a beautiful culture.

 

HOUSE

Latin: domus; Greek: do; English: house; Russian: dom; Polish: dom; German: Haus; French: maison; Sanskrit: vasati.

 

Vir or andros, child or rebionok, woman or kobieta ― the words do not resemble one another, and they are the basic vocabulary that hardly ever changes. This vocabulary is compared for language grouping.

 

Polish and Russian could make a group. We may compare the words muzshtschina and mężczyzna. There is not much point deriving Polish from Russian or Russian from Polish, however. We can compare rebionok and dziecko. Language groups work better than language families. “Families” derive languages, one from another.

 

Similarities in form as domus, do, and dom, or house and Haus, show geographic affinity; they are characteristic to urban or other developments, and do not decide on language grouping. Within evolutionary approaches, languages may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement. Language knowledge became shared, in the process.

 

Why derive European vocabularies from Sanskrit, while Sanskrit might have absorbed loan words?

Proto-languages are constructs. They are theoretical guesswork. Taking the Russian and Polish words for children as our example, to make up a “proto-language”, we would have to create a word form that might have preceded both “dziecko” and “riebionok”. Even if we created a form as *dieriebok, it would not mean such a form ever existed. Honestly, it is unlikely.

 

Decent linguistic work requires a source. However, the Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique, and it covered only the Ancient Egyptian ― the glyphs and the demotic ― along with Ancient Greek. The stone allowed translation, but not an etymological study. There never was anything like the Rosetta Stone, for “Indo-European” languages, and Marco Polo was probably not the first visitor to the Far East.

 

Carbon dating

Whenever possible, written resources should be carbon-dated. There is no philological method to affirm the original beyond evidence. Writings were copied in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and later, hand style and pen craft.

 

Oldest does not mean wisest

What rationale could we find to constructing probabilistic language forms? Linguistically, there is none. Machine or otherwise constructed, a code is not a natural language and thus does not belong with linguistic inquiries.

 

Regarding the psychological side to the human being, I also do not share in the enthusiasm or fascination with speculative ancient cultures. People were not more sophisticated in ancient times. Ancient languages were not more intelligent, either. Modern languages are far more economical and refined, at the same time. It is not true a language is the more advanced, the more flections it has. We can speak without looking up to “parent tongues”.

 

In actuality, supporters of the Proto-Indo-European “family” have gone into making own Proto-Indo-European religion. There is not a PIE root for the name “Earth”, however.

 

EARTH

Latin: terra or tellus; Greek: Gaia or Aia; English: Earth; Russian: Ziemlia; Polish: Ziemia; German: Erde; French: Terre; Sanskrit: vasudha.

 

It seems there was a pie, more than the PIE, in the times of Mr. Jones, and that pie was the Company rule in India. The India colonial era began about 1500, and there was much rivalry.

 

Space 1999 would show reading Proto-Sanskrit accurately… 😉

 


My YouTube: Sanskrit Readout

The holocaust in the clip is not the Holocaust.

Charles Thomson

A New People Come

“The Date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence, and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra which commences from that Date”, concluded Charles Thomson about his accepted design of the Great Seal. He never provided a translation, that is, he never wrote what the Latin phrase denotes exactly.

 

 

Wikipedia refers the Great Seal motto, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, to Virgil’s Eclogues and ancient pagan ritualists, sibyls.

 

ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo
(Virgil’s Eclogue)

 

 

Wikipedia adds, “The phrase is sometimes mistranslated as “New World Order”, by people who believe in a conspiracy behind the design; however, it does directly translate to “New Order of the Ages”.

 

Conspiracy theories are not reasonable, but they always feed on something. Here, the Great Seal belongs with US powers to involve the executive. Charles Thomson was a Presbyterian, not a mantic. He — same as many people, me included — would not have a sibyl for an elder, authority, or factor of strength. The rituals involved narcotics and burnt offerings.

 

More, we can say “an age” as well as “a century”. A “new order of ages” implies an altered approach to time, and we could not have Romanticism before Enlightenment, and Renaissance only after. It would be as trying to have the 19th century before the 18th, and the 14th century only after.

 

I have never interpreted the Latin as a “new order of ages”. However unbelievable this might look or sound for a university graduate, I realized my comprehension was different from the official a few years ago, over the Internet. The Seal never was of my special focus, and there was not a lecture on it at the uni, where you are expected to study mostly on your own.

 

I have looked up the details, and here, I yet would like to try defending my view. There is a feature in Mr. Thomson’s report that seems overlooked. His spelling did acknowledge the Latin digraph æ. We can see it in the report.

 

…the new American Æra…
(Charles Thomson’s report)

 

The “seclorum” in the Great Seal does not have the digraph. The “sæclorum” in the Eclogues has it. Possibly, the Eclogues are not the source.

 

There was a man who had a talent for persuasion, and his thought influenced the Framers. The man was Thomas Paine. He titled his work “Common Sense”. The links here allow downloading it from a Project Gutenberg file, as well as reading my translation for public domain.

 

 

If we search the Gutenberg Common Sense for “æra”, we get:

 

“By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new æra for politics is struck…”
“…the independancy of America, should have been considered, as dating its æra from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her…”

 

Let us search Thomas Paine’s Common Sense for the word “order”:

 

“Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation…
“It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages
“England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature…
“he who can calmly hear, and digest such doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality—an apostate from the order of manhood…
“Do they take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances…”

 

Thomas Paine would have written about examples from former ages, but he would not have put them into an alternate order. In his use, we could paraphrase the word “order” as a “pattern” or … “people”.

 

The “ordo” in the Seal is a Latin word. We can compare Cicero’s Second Philippic. In linguistics, we can call it learning from the usus.

 

“Accuse the senate; accuse the equestrian body, which at that time was united with the senate; accuse every order or society, and all the citizens; (…) at all events you would never have continued in this order, or rather in this city; (…) when I have been pronounced by this order to be the savior of my country; (…) when you, one single young man, forbade the whole order to pass decrees concerning the safety of the republic…”

 

Here again, if we tried to picture an “order”, we would think about people.

 

Marcus Tullius Cicero was of considerable influence on the Founding Fathers. Mr. Thomson might have been influenced with Cicero, or he might have followed the usus as he disambiguated it from Latin resources generally. Pointing at a particular source of usus might be impossible, without the author’s indication.

 

When we people speak, we do not take our words from books, magazines, or other resources. Latin was a dead language when Charles Thomson was making the motto, but he was alive. I think he formed the motto on his own.

 

Resources continue to differ in presenting the Latin language. We may compare The Rudiments of Latin and English Grammar by Alexander Adam, of about 1786. On page 141, he presents seclor as a consequent of sequor.

 

Seclor_sequor

 

We can compare the Latin secludere as to stand apart, and seclusus as separate. The form seclorum would be the plural genitive of seclum. The word is translated broadly, as “a race, generation, age, the people of any time” (see Perseus word study tool). Backtracking, the Latin verb secludere had a Perfect participle seclusus that became used as an adjective, which in turn originated the noun seclum.

 

The form seclusum would have been still an adjective, gramatically neuter: seclusus est: he is separate; seclusa est: she is separate; seclusum est it is separate. We can say that seclum generally meant “people who are separate / different with a regard”, be it features, chronological age, or even decisions made a given time.

 

With the Latin ordo as a group, arrangement, or class, we can have the Novus Ordo Seclorum for “A new people come”, that is, a new formation by people to have separated from others, to stand apart, as a nation, for example. Literal, word-for-word translation happens to be clumsy, also for ancient Latin (new form/order of/by the separate/separated?) In English, we have the form how come ― it can render the verb-participle-adjective-or-noun interplay.

 

“WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation”, says the Declaration of Independence.

 

 

We also might wonder, why did Mr. Thomson not use the word populus, if he meant people?

 

We derive the word form people from the Latin populus. Paths for word etymology and meaning happen to diverge. Today, we derive the word equal as well as the word adequate, from the Latin aequus. In practice, adequate remuneration may not mean equal money, and equal money might be inadequate for jobs of different specifics.

 

The Latin populus did not connote nationality in ancient times. It often referred to laying waste or degrading: perpopulor, to devastate, pillage; populabilis, destructible. The Senatus populusque Romanus, never a real power over the Roman military, can be associated with practices of times unpleasant to Christians.

 

Ancient Roman military did not have much sentiment for nationality. Their culture favored status. The Roman civitas was inseparable from the city of Rome. Latin had words as aerarius and aerarium, for Roman residents who had to pay tax, but were not allowed to vote or hold offices. The temple of Saturn had a special part to keep public offerings separate from those of the elites. Without legal rationale, caesars could give death verdicts among any people within their armed range. Ancient Rome was not as much or often a republic, as a practice at pretending it. We have to be very selective, seeking worthwhile aspects of the Antiquity. Feel welcome to compare the PIE, the Proto-Indo-European theory.

 

The word ordo had a dignified sense. Though translated scarce by Lewis and Short, we may compare Cicero, whose sense is obviously not that for just a few people to have convened with troops or monasteries. Ordo did not have to denote a linear arrangement, but it also could: Roman military, bringing territories down, happened to face local people in groups, or battle formations.

 

Nowadays, the noun people means a group of human beings, or a nationality. As a group, it takes a plural verb: The people here all speak English. The plural is for human persons, men or women. As a nationality or ethnicity, the noun may take on the plural itself: The peoples of Europe have formed a Union. Status can no longer decide on civil rights. The word sense of the present day does not translate into the ancient Latin populus.

 

Well, would the Declaration be for males only? “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal…” Feel welcome to practice on the civics, with my grammar course.

 

 

Interestingly, the Great Seal could make a rhyme, the people generally could remember along with children:

Out of many one,
With favor to the endeavor,
A new people come.

 

Learn to read the Seal in Latin.