Sunday, December 09, 2007

False etymologies, continued

I was reading Heather McHugh's "Broken, as English" (on Tom Phillips's A Humument and the fragments of Archilocus), in which she breaks down "together" as "to-get-her"...I thought of two other false etymologies:

"Bowdlerize" comes from the British practice of censoring translations of the seedy Baudelaire (mispronounced "bowdler").

And...I forgot the other one.

Heather = heat-her? That wasn't it.

A long time ago I wondered if Adam Ant's name was meant to play off the word adamant.

That wasn't it, either.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Hannah said...

Not so much false etymologies as seeing what isn't there:

I remember I used to read "malevolent" and "malevolence" as "male-violent" and "male-violence," which, I guess, got me close enough. I was less lucky with "benevolence."

Meanwhile, "determined" became "deter-minded," with "deter" pronounced like, say, "Dieter," which sounded to me like a hard, resilient word. That worked long enough.

Now, though, I'm trying to work out what "parenth-" could mean -- as in "parenthood" and "parenthesis."

11:38 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I remember one of those SNL "Deep Thoughts," where Jack Handy wants to look closer at the roots of the word "mankind," so he breaks it down into its constituent parts..."Mank" and "ind."

This is neither here nor there, but for a long time I read "sundried tomatoes" as though that adjective derived from "sundry" (as in "all and sundry").

5:16 PM  

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