Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My name is Alberta and I'm a nerd....

We have no Halloween decorations so this year we made Jack-o-lanterns and stuck them on the boy's window. Ever since we did those simple little constuction paper pumpkins, my oldest ds has been going crazy making Jack-o-lanterns of every size and color. Don't get me wrong, these are very cute pumpkins, but frankly I'm getting tired of it. So I've been trying to come up with an equally simple Thanksgiving project to replace them, something my older ds can do himself without my help. Of course, the first thing I thought of was a turkey, but I couldn't think of a way to put it together that would be as simple as sticking cutout eyes and mouth on a circle pumpkin. So next I thought maybe a cornucopia. I couldn't figure out how to make that one simple either, but it got me thinking about the origin of the word 'cornucopia'. I figured it was probably related to 'cornet' (a type of trumpet) and 'copious'. So I pulled out my Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories to look it up. 'Cornucopia' itself was not in there, so I looked up 'cornet' (which it turns out comes from the Latin 'cornu' meaning 'horn') and 'copious' (which comes from the Latin 'copia' meaning 'plenty'). So 'cornucopia' (horn of plenty) comes into modern times directly from the original Latin unchanged! Wild! I wonder how many other words do that? Rob?

Thanks for joining my stream of consciousness ride.
Alberta

4 comments:

liz said...

I am impressed. When Becky and Rob were much younger, they attempted the same thing with the word "Rancor" (from Return of the Jedi). They decided it meant "able to kill cow." I don't remember all of their reasoning, but it was a little less reality-based than yours. It was very funny to hear them explain it, though.

Becky said...

lol!!!! Liz, I had forgotten all about that! But if I recall correctly, the word Rob and I devised a new definition for was actually rancid. I'm not sure how we connected "ran" with cows (Rob, a little help???), but the "able to kill" came from cid (like cide in homocide or suicide, just without the pesky "e" at the end). Ahhh, good times.....

rob said...

I don't remember how "ran" refered to cows. =( But I do remember that we created the etymology for "rancid" because of someone's breath. It was "rancid" meaning "able to kill a cow". Hopefully you remember whose breath we were describing. I won't incriminate anyone on this blog. ;-)

About direct Latin->English, that's outside my expertise. It does seem that words that are invented have a great chance of being given a french/latin flare. So maybe the originator of "cornucopia" thought that "horn of plenty" was too mundane?

crochetfreak said...

I pulled out my trusty dictionary of word histories and looked up 'rancid'. It's from the Latin 'rancidus' which means 'stinking'. Also related to 'rancour' from the Latin 'rancor' (Liz wasn't far off in the first comment) meaning 'rankness'. Not as humorous as 'able to kill cow'. Oh well!