Etumon

I think my love of words and their histories began in school, right around 6th or 7th standard. Our English textbooks had a section called ‘Word Attack’ that listed obscure or simply lengthy words and encouraged us to guess at their meaning based on their context, or what other words they sounded like.

It was a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed and still do. Just yesterday a friend used the word 'Rogered', slang for when someone is chastised, punished, or pulled-up in some way. I spent the next 10 minutes not really listening to the conversation, lost instead in wondering where that turn of phrase might have originated.

Etymology is the field of linguistics that studies the history and origin of words, their meanings, and how those meanings have changed over time. I thought it might be fitting for the first post on this site to look into the etymology of that word itself. Etumon, a Greek word meaning ’true sense of a word’, itself derived from etumos meaning true, is the origin of the word Etymology.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the origins of 'To Roger', that's going to be my next post, see you soon!

Rogered

You’ve probably heard someone use the phrase ‘getting rogered’, to mean going through something unpleasant or being chastised for something. I had a conversation with a friend recently where she used the word and while I’ve heard it used before, something about the context or the way she said it, made the word stand out, and I found myself pondering its origins.

The two contexts in which I’d come across the word were as a name (Roger), and the verb, the way my friend had used it.

I like to try and guess word etymologies before I look them up. In the case of rogered, I began with two assumptions:
1. That it was related to the name ‘Roger’ (I safe assumption, I thought)
2. That it’s use as a verb was a fairly recent one (based purely on the fact that I could’t remember seeing it in any period movies or books.

My guess was that it was derived from a particularly powerful/dominant ‘Roger’, some famous warrior, general, or perhaps even an athlete? (i.e. Andy Roddick got totally Rogered at Wimbledon).

I looked it up, and while my reasoning was pretty far off the mark, both the name and the verb are related. Roger’s roots lie in the Germanic Hrotger, meaning “famous with the spear”. Hruod (fame or glory) and ger (spear) are its roots.

You can probably see where this is going now.

The name likely originates from the the literal meaning of the phrase and has been around since the early 1600s. The verb form was first observed around the early 1700s (thought I sincerely doubt that nobody thought of the joke in the intervening 100 years) and means, obviously, ‘To Fuck’.

Now, there is one other situation in which I’ve heard the word used, and that’s in radio communications. When a character in a war movie hangs up the field telephone, he doesn’t say “Theek Hai” or “Ok”. He says “Roger”. That particular usage of the word first appeared during the second world war, and is probably directly connected to the name (which was in common use by that time). The phonetic alphabet used by the United States armed-forces in the 1950s used ‘Roger’ as the ‘R’ equivalent (instead of ‘Romeo’ as they do now). In this case, the ‘Roger’ is shorthand for ‘Message Received’.

Tour of the ISS

In 2012, just before returning to Earth, Sunita Williams, then commander of the International Space Station, recorded a pretty detailed tour, of everything from the bunks to the toilet.



The bit at ~11:50 when Sunita is in the Cupola reminded me of one of my favourite pictures of all time, this iconic image of astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson. Images like this are often accompanied by over-the-top descriptions about how seeing the Earth at that scale makes you feel small, or how 'her eyes have an expression of wonder'. To me, this is "just" a picture of someone staring at the Earth. And I get that, because it's probably what I would do. Just stare and stare and stare.