Thursday, January 08, 2009

Break for Lexicography

Fun with words.

Let's start (and end) with barbarian (or Barbara, if you know one of those whom you dislike intensely.) The word is a disparagement:

Disparaging terms for foreigners in some other languages also reflect their unintelligible speech. The best-known example is Greek βάρβαρος (barbaros),

...Hjalmar Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, compares Sanskrit barbara- (stammering), Sumerian barbar (foreigner), and Babylonian-Semitic barbaru (enemy).

The word is an adjective, a "reduplicative onomatopoeia" that captures how an exotic language sounds. A modern American creation would be something like "blah-blah-ous."

Well, now. "Blah-blah-ous" fits a lot of people, not all of them foreign.

Take, for example, Congress. Please take them.

Plenty more interesting stuff on 'barbarians' at the link below.

HT: Laudator

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