Tag Archives: etymology

Let there be language

Regarding the word “phenomenology” —

“Heidegger finds around that word a whole cluster of etymologies, all of them having an internal unity of meaning that brings us to the very center of his thought. The Greek word phainomenon is connected with the word phaos, light, and also with the word apophansis, statement or speech. The sequence of ideas is thus: revelation-light-language. The light is the light of revelation, and language itself is in this light. These may look like mere metaphors, but perhaps they are so only for us, whose understanding is darkened; for early man, at the very dawn of the Greek language, this inner link between light and statement (language) was a simple and profound fact, and it is our sophistication and abstractness that makes it seem to us ‘merely’ metaphorical.” — William Barrett, in his book Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy


Owen Barfield on Disputing the Meaning of a Word

In his essay “The Development of Meaning,” Owen Barfield wrote, “When we are disputing about the proper meaning to be attached to a particular word in a sentence, etymology is of little use. Only children run to the dictionary to settle an argument.” (Found in “Notes on Frey” by Daniel Nester.)

Barfield’s quotation reminds me a little of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s guidance on language, which he summarized with, “don’t think, but look!”

Etymology alert! Glutino wants you to know the origin of the word ‘gluten’

Glutino box gets into the Latin root word of "gluten"!

A box of Glutino Gluten Free Bagel Chips

The Parmesan & Garlic flavor, to be exact, contains this bit of insight:

“Gluten comes from the Latin word for ‘glue’. So think of yourself as eating glue-free.”

My intestines feel better just thinking about gluten-free foods.

I also feel better thinking about a smart use of etymology on product packaging.

On the other hand, having scanned the entire text of the Glutino box, I found no etymological attention was given to an ingredient with a fancy name: “disodium phosphate.” Maybe because that would require a lengthy scientific paper.