Etymology

by Anton Wills-Eve


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/play-lexicographer/”>Play Lexicographer</a>

WordPress wants me to invent a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

                                            Etymology

“Hugh, what does etymology mean? It’s a word I’ve never heard of before?” I smiled  at her helpless lack of vocabulary but still found it incredible she could talk as well as she could. We were  in the same hospital ward being treated for brain damage, she from a dreadful illness with which she had been born and I from the mental confusion caused by a car crash. We had been together for nearly three weeks now and were both struggling to overcome our disabilities.

“Heavens, Glen, that’s a tricky one. Oddly, it’s the study of the origin of words, which is a very apt subject for both of us. Let me give you an example. The etymology of the word ‘holiday’ is the contraction of two other words, holy and day. In The early years of Christianity a Holy Day was a special day like the feast of a saint, or Easter when Jesus was crucified and rose again from the dead. Such days were so important workers were often given the day off to go to church and then pleasantly enjoy themselves. You see over the centuries Holy and Day were gradually joined together and meant a day off work or, as we now say, a holiday. That’s an example of etymology. Understand?”

“Hugh, what do contraction and crucified mean?” We both laughed out loud and then I got a total mental block. I hadn’t a clue what we were talking about. I had to ask her, much to my embarrassment, and she said ,”Oh Hugh I can’t remember. You were explaining something to me as usual but I don’t know what. It couldn’t have been all that important.”  But by this stage in the conversation I could note a very definite sadness in her tone and almost a sense of despair that she would never be able to communicate like ordinary people. She was probably thinking that I would eventually get better, but she had been stuck with her illness for thirty seven years already and with no real prospect of it improving very much if at all. But our situations were not as different as might at first have appeared. I had lost my wife in a car crash and, although married for ten years, we had never had children. In truth I was very lonely  and not being able to remember what Renee had even looked like made me wonder if I was ever going to picture her again. I was nearly forty myself and my career in journalism had taken a serious blow with my injuries. I was covered by a good insurance policy for another three years but then the future was really bleak if I did not pick up and return to being able to write. We were both sitting idly not trying to do anything constructive at all that afternoon when Glenda jumped up and blurted out,

“I know what it was. I didn’t know what etymology meant and you tried to tell me. But I can’t remember what you said, but I do recall that I didn’t understand some of the words. But I don’t know which.” As you can imagine exchanges like that were depressing in the extreme and a couple of days later I remember finding Glen sitting on the seat in the hospital garden crying her eyes out. She desperately tried to stop me finding her like that  but I was too quick.

“Hey, Sunshine. Cheer up. It may be hell at the moment but we’ll pull through. And I sat beside her and held her hand tightly. You’ll see Glen. Something will turn up.” But she floored me with her next remark.

“Oh, Hugh it has. It’s you. You’re clever, cheerful even when you look like death you act like somebody who is still trying to get better. But look at me. I’ve given up Hugh, I really have. If  I can’t have a normal life with you I just want to curl up and die.”

And then the thunderbolt hit me and I smiled and grinned at Glen all at the same time. “Tell me, Glen, seriously, what does ‘monplushioned’  mean?”

She could see I hadn’t been drinking and wondered if I was alright. “What did you say? Hugh say that word again,” I repeated it,

“Monplushioned.What do you think it means?” She hadn’t a clue. She thought I was taking the Mickey and trying to make fun of her, but still the whole diversion intrigued her. I said it again very clearly and slowly, “Mon plush ion ed. What does that mean to you  Glen? Not to me, or anybody else, but to you? Make up an answer if you don’t know, but give it a meaning. Please, just for me.”

A flicker of hope that I thought I could help her flitted across her face and she replied,”Okay Hugh , it means ‘scrancloonging’, but only at low tide when the moon’s out and the wind’s in the West North East.”

I nodded. “Almost, but more towards daybreak and before sunset. The etymology is from the Venusian  words , karr and smynthing, from which we also get ‘golhumptying.'”

“Hugh, what does etymology mean?”

That week we discharged ourselves from the hospital together for ever.

Anton Wills-Eve

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