Thursday, June 25, 2009

Five men of Words


During my school days someone once asked me a question which was kind of silly when I first heard. Was it a car or a cat I saw? But the fun in that sentence was the letters are in exactly the same order from both starting and end. It is the same as in the word Malayalam. I was very impressed to know such a line being the little boy that I was at that time. Today I attempt to create a silly question of my own based on etymology.



Will a maverick guy be lynched and end in mausoleum if he was a Casanova?


Well this sentence might not be as interesting as the earlier one but it does have something special in it. All the main words (italics) in the sentence have got something in common. They are all derived from name of persons who walked this planet once upon a time. This is an attempt to find out who they were and what they did to be part of the English language.



Samuel Augustus Maverick (July 23, 1803–September 2, 1870) was a Texas lawyer, politician, land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His name is the source of the term "maverick," first cited in 1867, which means "independently minded." Various accounts of the origins of the term held that Maverick came to be considered independently minded by his fellow ranchers because he refused to brand his cattle.



Guy Fawkes, or Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, belonged to a group of Roman Catholic restorationist from England who planned the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Their aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I and the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic, aristocracy and nobility were inside. Bonfire Night, held on November 5 in the United Kingdom commemorates Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. Several geographical locations have been named after him, including the Isla Guy Fawkes in the Galápagos Islands and Guy Fawkes River in Australia. The word "guy", meaning "man" or "person", derives ultimately from his name.



Captain William Lynch (1742–1820) was a man from Pittsylvania County, Virginia, who claimed to be the author of "Lynch's Law". This is an agreement with the Virginia General Assembly in 1782 that allowed Lynch to capture and punish criminals in Pittsylvania County without trial due to the lack of courts in that county. Lynch now means to hang someone in mob frenzy without a trial.



Mausolus (377–353 BC) was ruler of Caria. He took part in the revolt against Artaxerxes Mnemon and conquered a great part of Lycia, Ionia and several Greek islands and cooperated with the Rhodians in the Social War against Athens. Mausolus was the eldest son of Hecatomnus, a native Carian. He is best known for the monumental shrine, the Mausoleum of Mausolus, erected for him by order of his sister and widow Artemisia. The term mausoleum has come to be used generically for any grand tomb. Its site and a few remains can still be seen in the Turkish town of Bodrum.



Casanova de seingalt, giovanni jacopo (1725-1798), was a Italian adventurer charlatan and social climber, who wrote several books and translated the Iliad. But he is most notorious for his History of my Life, which focuses on his many romantic conquests and provided many vivid accounts of his sexual encounters. In 1725 Giovanni was born in Venice as the eldest child to his parents. His father belonged to a noble family and made a runaway marriage with the beautiful daughter of a Venetian shoemaker. With his precocious and lively intellect he passed his examination at 16 and entered the seminary of St Cyprian in Venice, from which he was expelled a short time afterwards for some scandalous and immoral conduct. All restrictions were irksome to his wayward disposition and began his existence of adventure and intrigue which only ended with his death. Casanova now means a philanderer, gigolo and an irresponsible lover who has many affairs with women.



I am thankful to the internet and all the recourses put up there by people from around the world.

8 comments:

  1. I must say i am enjoying reading your blog. You have an amazing eye for collecting facts and describing them into write details.

    Keep it UP!!

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  2. Very interesting and the question was extremely well formed. Looking forwrad to'My wonder years' blog

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  3. That was a really interesting post, esp to students of English like me, who had to study the history of language.

    You could have added "...eating a sandwich" at the end, because the word SANDWICH originated in the Earl Of Sandwich who was the first to eat a piece of meat between two slices of bread.

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  4. Silver,
    Your comment is very much appreciated. Do come back again.
    Swatantra,
    Thanks for your appreciation once again. I am glad that you enjoyed this.
    Sujata,
    Thanks. It was my humble attempt (am I sound like a typical Babu!)?
    Yes the “my wonder years” project has been in the horizon for a long time. Too long to be precise! I honestly hope to make it happen sooner than later.
    Sucharita,
    I am glad that you liked it. Yes I kind of knew that it was the Earl of Sandwich who immortalized the sandwich. I had scribbled that as well in the yellow (post it) but did not became part of the question. But yes I could have treated that Casanova to a sandwich. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  5. As always, brilliant.
    Suman, you are fast becoming my favourite blogger.

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  6. An award awaits you at my page!!

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