New beginning. Always a beginner. Be. Beg. Begin. Gin. In. Inn. Inning.
Begin is a rare word. Often used over times immemorial. It’s ancient and went through a lot. Begin is unlike many others. Belong. There is a long. Become. There is a come. Behold. There is a hold. Begin. There is only gin; and that does not even come close, only at the end. The be- is transparent. The -gin is obscure. Millenia ago, the Germanic peoples had a verb ginnan. To cut open. To open up. It must have started then. They also had – and we still do – a be-prefix. To cause or to make whatever the verb says it does. These two were merged into a rare word. To cause something to open up. To begin. To make it – cut – open. To begin.
Beginning in the second paragraph. Ing … ing … ing. Something is going on here. Progressing. Progressive. And it fossilized. A little. Into a noun. Static? No! Process—ing. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. Always doing. Changing. Progressing. Beginning.
At the beginning of 2022, wishing you all new beginnings. Many. Fruitful beginnings. Often. And a happy ending.
Wrote this in a San Diego writers group today. The prompt was – you guessed it – beginning. I am very grateful for and to this group.
Hey, Friend, Middle of a work day. I am using my lunch break to write. Thank you for your comment, Chris, on my previous post on the word herd immunity [which I have now also moved to this blog]. Sitting about 150 miles away from your home, I can picture your schedule (I might pick up on this later) and imagine the conversation with your son. The marvels of reading and writing…
The post heading gives it away: what caught my eye was: “It boils down to a coping mechanism for a yawning lack of ambiguity tolerance among us humans.” Fancy word that. Let me bounce it around a little.
I believe you are right. We are always trying to cope with ambiguity. We like to know what this virus is—exactly. What does it do the body, to my body, should I get infected? When will we get back to normal? On November 11? Or on December 14? And what does normal mean, anyway? And why did you throw another Latin word into my immunity?
So, I looked it up: ambiguity. It’s old. It can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European, the reconstructed ancestor of all Indo-European languages, such as English, German, Latin, Spanish, Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu, … Linguists hypothesize that PIE was spoken in the third millennium BC, 5000 years ago. *ambhi (around) and *ag (to drive, to move) In Latin, the word referred to “double meaning” already.
So, I guess even 5000 years ago, the nomads had to deal with unsteady things, that kept moving, struggled with deriving one meaning from the many they saw, and encountered phenomena of a doubtful or uncertain nature. So much so that they probably had a word for it.
5000 years. And we are still struggling and coping with ambiguity. Why? It’s everywhere. As they say: Words have more than one meaning. (Linguists call this phenomenon polysemy. And yes, it is pretty much all words.) Most phenomena in nature and in society are complex; development and processes in general are often nonlinear; each one of us can take a different perspective, develop a different — often only partial — understanding. Ambiguous.
So, what are we going to do with our lack of ambiguity tolerance? Tolerate it more? Eliminate ambiguity as drastically as we can? Struggle with it from time to time over the next 5000 years?
Or is there another way? What do you think?
As always, hanging in there and thinking of you (plural … again!)
This is the penultimate transfer of a post from the Panta Rhei Enterprise site. I had written this originally in July. I would think that apart from the dates being even further out, not much changed … for the better. I am still optimistic that it will. Eventually.
At least the tidying up of this blog and the one at Panta Rhei is nearing its useful conclusion.
It’s been another long work day. I had meant to write to you in the morning … Well, I am doing it now. So? How are you? Have COVID-19 and the general state of the little world we find ourselves in also impacted your daily schedule, workload, energy, emotions, expectations and even your ability to think as much as they have mine?
Am I really just one in a herd? And I am supposed to wait for herd immunity? I don’t know about that. Even the word irks me.
Immunity apparently came from Latin via French into English. Not very rare and interesting — for a word. What it meant first is interesting. Today!
immunitatem: “exemption from performing public service” or
immunis: “exempt, free, not paying a share”. What can I say? Is this where it is going this time?
Only in the late 19th century, the word immunity got its medical sense of protection from disease.
Don’t get me started on herd! What am I supposed to be? An ox? A bellwether? Or some non-descript cattle? What does it take to be part of this herd immunity?
Why are an animal metaphor and a strange old legal term being hooked up and dangled before us from time to time as a possible exit from a pandemic? Maybe, just maybe … there are better ways.
Hanging in there as always and thinking of you (plural, of course; but that’s a topic for another day…).
In any case. Just write. I want to know what you think. Can you derive any sense out of this?