Thursday, March 30, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Cence, Part II

And now the conclusion. Of words that end in -cence but aren’t related to essence. I have to be specific because there are a ton of those and none of them are mentioned here.

Convalescence is one of those words that the N was just kind of thrown in there at some point, which seems to be a recurring theme for these words. It’s from the Middle French convalescence and Late Latin convalescentia, regaining of health. It comes from the classical Latin convalescere, recover, the origin word for convalesce, which we don’t really use that much these days. It’s a mix of the prefix com-, although that’s just an intensifier here, and valescere, grow strong. That word is actually related to valere, to be strong/healthy, which just happens to be the origin word for valiant.

Reminiscence first showed up in the late sixteenth century from the Middle French reminiscence and Late Latin reminiscentia, remembrance or recollection. That in turn is from the classical Latin reminiscentem, recollecting and reminisci, also recollecting. The word is a mix of re-, again, and menisci, which is from mens, or mind. So it’s to mind again. Or…remind. Man, you don’t often get one that makes total sense no matter how you look at it.

Reticence showed up in the early seventeenth century from the Middle French reticence and classical Latin reticentia, reservation or silence. The verb form is reticere, keep silent, a mix of re- (I think it’s just intensive here) and tacere, be silent. Which, you know, is where tacit comes from.

Magnificence showed up in the mid fourteenth century from the Old French magnificence, splendor, nobility, or grandeur, and before that, it was the classical Latin magnificentia, which meant splendor or beautiful (something nice, is what I’m getting at). Magnificentia comes from magnificus, majestic, a word that’s a mix of magnus, great, and facere, do or make. Magnificence is something that was made great.

TL;DR: Still none of these words are related. And every other -cence word is related to essence.

Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


You know what you should do when you have a million things on your plate? Take on more work!

No, wait. That’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do.

Liz and I want to do a series of posts next month about a lot of important topics--basically anything that’s been thrown under the bus by the current people in power, you know, like the arts, healthcare, basic human decency. If anyone wants to contribute on a topic or topics they’re passionate about we’d love for you to join in, just let me know.

Anyway, now I have to go off and write about a million posts.

Ha ha, please help me. Send cake.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Waiting Room

And people wonder why I hate going to the doctor.
Hey, it could have happened. I had to fast before going in there so I could get my blood drawn. I was ready to bite someone’s head off.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Cence, Part I

There are a ton of words that end in -cense or -cence. Like, this is definitely a two-parter. And we’re not even getting into words like luminescence or iridescence since those are related to essence and a whole other post on their own.

License is kind of funny. It showed up in the early fifteenth century as a verb that meant to grant authorization to do something. No big surprises there. But it comes from a noun that’s spelled licence, with two C’s (which, frankly, just accentuates how stupid and redundant C is). Apparently there were tons of spellings for the word in Middle English, including lisence, lissens, and licance, which exemplifies why we had to start formalizing spellings. Anyway, licence is spelled that way because it comes from the Old French licence, liberty, freedom, or permission, which in turn comes from the classical Latin licentia, which means the same thing, in other words, a license. The verb form of it, licere (to allow) can be traced back to the Proto Indo European leik-, to offer or bargain. Which…makes sense, I guess.

Innocence showed up in the mid fourteenth century meaning specifically the “freedom from guilt or moral wrong”. It comes from the Old French inocence, innocence, and classical Latin innocentia/innocens, which are just innocence and innocent. When you break up the word and look at its roots, it gets seven better. The in- means not in this case, while the centia/cens part of the word comes from nocere, hurt. That fits since innocence is non-harming, right? Well, nocere comes from the Proto Indo European nek-, which means…death. It’s where necro- comes from!

Incense first showed up in the late thirteenth century meaning something that gave off a sweet scent when burned. It comes from the Old French encens, from the Late Latin incensum, that which is burnt. That in turn is from the classical Latin incendere, to burn, which might sound an awful lot like incendiary to you. And it should, since that word is from the same place. This time the prefix in- means in while the rest is from candere, shine, glow, or be on fire. And of course that’s where candle comes from. It can also be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European kand-, glow or shoot out light. So light = fire = stuff burning.

TL;DR: None of these words are related. Like, at all.

Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Web Comics I Like

I’m going to post about some of the web comics I’ve been reading lately because I have nothing else to post about and this is more positive than me ranting about how people are ignoring racism.

Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen
A woman’s observations on being an awkward introverted worrier. I…identify with her A LOT. Her second book just came out and I’m hoping to pick it up soon.

Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand
Various random jokes. The most popular recurring characters are the bear Ernesto and his friend Kevin the bird, as well as Trash Bird, who is just Trash Bird. Look, it’s really hard to explain and totally ridiculous. Just check it out.

Apparently the creator just wanted to use the longest name she could find. In any case, she’s hilarious. Her creature “selfie bee” is a kind of author avatar that reflects her often ridiculous reactions (like promising not to buy more books and then leaving the bookstore later wearing a sash that says “Mayor of Failuretown”). Also, for Harry Potter fans, she does tons of spoofs of the series, especially of Dumbledore being just the worst person to be in charge of children.

Books of Adam by Adam Ellis
Things that happen to Adam totally overdramatized, flamboyant, and hilarious. I think my favorite is the one where the cat is asleep all day, until three a.m. when he’s going totally crazy. It’s very relatable.

Another comic where the typical things that happen to the creator are exaggerated to hilarious levels. I think that might be my favorite type of comic. The best ones to check out is the comics she drew while staying up for thirty two hours in order to fix her sleep schedule. It’s basically a decent into madness.

Anyway, that’s what I read all day. I like comics. What about you?

Saturday, March 18, 2017


There’s a rat or a mouse or something in the attic right above my bedroom. It likes to chew on wood. Loudly. While I’m trying to sleep.

I’m not sure how I expected her to get the thing. It was three a.m. I was tired. Leave me alone.

And no, I can’t get the other cat to do it. Veronica is fourteen years old and fat. The only thing she can catch is sleep.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Language of Confusion: Where Music And Biology Collide

Organ…it can be something you play, or a part of your body that keeps you alive. Why is that?

Organ is actually a fusion—seriously. The Old English organe and Old French orgene came together to form a stronger, more powerful word than either could be separately. Both words had the same meaning, a musical instrument, and both come from the classical Latin organum, instrument. Latin stole it from Greek, where it’s organon, which means instrument in a very general sense, not just musical. And back then it could be a tool or a body organ, which means that over the years it changed from having several definitions to only meaning musical instruments and then went back to having several definitions, including one very specific musical instrument. I think it’s funny that organon comes from the Proto Indo European werg-ano-, which comes from werg-, to work, because that makes way more sense as an origin for these words.

And it’s not the only word originally music related. Take organic. It showed up in the early sixteenth century meaning serving as a musical instrument, coming from the classical Latin organicus and Greek organikos, and while both mean organic, both also originally had to do with instruments, not what we think of organic as. In fact, it wasn’t until the late eighteenth century that it applied to living beings (although they used “organical” for that before, and tell me that word isn’t funny).

Finally today we’re looking at organize. It showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning construct or establish, which makes it weirder that organized originally specifically meant “furnished with organs”. It came from the Middle French organizer and Medieval Latin organizare, which in turn is from our old friend organum. Okay, I can almost get how it went from construct to put into order, but I have no idea how we’re supposed to get from instrument to construct/establish. Makes. No. Sense.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English