Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just the Fax, Ma’am

We’re going on a wild one today.  Buckle up!   The P.I.E. Root dhe- carries a meaning of to set or put.  Let’s start with a modern word that is pretty straightforward – do.  When you do something, you take action to set or put.  Think of a “hair do” or getting your hair “done” – the stylist sets it or puts the hair in a certain way.  It appears that abdomen belongs in this group – it is a thing that is put or set inside the body.  Another clearly related word is deem.  When deem a matter concluded you put or set judgment on it.  Closely related is doom, when a person or thing’s fate is set.  Another word fits in here – condiment.  “Com” means together. The “di” in condiment is our root dhe-.  A condiment is something you put together with the main thing you are eating – such as putting mustard together with on a hot dog.

The rest of our words today are going to do a little “sliding sideways”.  If you’ve read my prior SS posts, you’ve discovered how letter sounds can shape shift occasionally – a dh sound (where the h is often silent) becomes a ph/f sound.  (And see this post where we saw bhel- become phel-) If something is said to be a fact, it is set, like “set in stone”.  A factory is a place that puts things together.  Not surprisingly, the idea “to make” is one the most common ideas in language.  A benefactor [bene (good) + factor (make)] is someone who makes (or gives) something good to someone else.  A malefactor [mal- (bad)] is one who makes bad for others.  A facsimile [simile (same)] machine sends the same image somewhere else.  An artifact [art (skill)] is something made, usually implying made long ago.

This idea of make goes much, much further.  Suffixes like –fice, -fect, and –fy tip us off to make words.  If something suffices, it makes (-fice) up to (sub) expectations.  Watching  “The Opfice” sounds funny, so we change the p to another f and watch people  working (making) together [op (work) + fice (make)].  An effect [ex (out of)] is a result that is made out of something else – think sound effect.  Perfect [per (completely or thoroughly)] means to set or put something all the way, lacking nothing, and reaching the intended effect.  Affection [af (a variant of ad-, to)] suggests making toward someone else (uh, sorta like “making out”… sorta).  Oddly enough, a confection is the same word formula as condiment (together + make), but has a much sweeter meaning.  When you satistfy [satis (enough) + fy (do)] you do or make enough to meet the expectations of others.  When you amplify [ample (large)] you make something louder / bigger / larger.  When you do something stupid and you try to justify yourself, you are trying to show how your action was just or right.  Many other words such as feasible, feasance / malfeasance, notify (make notice), manufacture (make with hands - like manual labor), orifice (make an opening - like oral), qualify (make an amount), and rectify (make right) all point back to the idea of “make”. 

A faction is a gang made out of a larger group.  Fashion means to make something and has come to refer to clothing (and more) that has been fashioned.  A face reveals the form of something – facet, façade, facial, deface, and surface all carry this sense.  A faculty is a group of people who facilitate learning experiences – hopefully their classes are not to difficult [dif (from dis meaning away or negative) + fic (from fac… make)]. 

Now, did you ever mistake hearing a d for t*?  That’s another way letters in words can slide sideways.  Let’s roll all the way back to our root dhe- and make it the- as in theme or hypothesis where you make or put forward an idea.  Do you remember ever hearing the wonderful word apothecary.  Literally, apothecary means "put away" [apo (away, as in apostasy) + the- (put)].  In Latin, an apothecary is any shopkeeper (who puts away the wares in their stores – “store” itself meaning a place of holding / keeping), but especially those who deal with herbs and other medicinals.  The apothecary didn’t put away his medicines because they were dangerous, but because they were perishable and needed to be stored carefully.  The t/d sound in boutique and bodega (also meaning store) come directly to us from this ancient root for set or put.

*As if anyone cares, d and t are very similar phonetically.  D is voiced alveolar plosive.  T is a voiceless alveolar plosive.  Don't worry, I'm not going to start a blog on phonic sounds and relationships, but their similar sounds explains why bodega and boutique look quite different but sound similar and mean very similar things.

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