Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly

The English language borrows roots from many languages.   Therefore, the same meaning can be expressed in different ways, even in prefixes.  For example, pre and ante both mean before.
If something is good, two possible roots are the Greek eu and the Latin bene.  A eulogy is saying good things about someone who died, even the words are lies while a euphemism is a nice word for an ugly concept – collateral damage for civilian casualties and height-challenged for short.  (By the way, my favorite euphemism is expanded face for describing baldness.).  Similarly, a benefit is a money or privilege that makes life better while a benediction is a blessing, i.e. good words.
By contrast, malady, maladroit and malfunctioning are very bad, as is part of their root, mal.  I don’t know the Greek root for bad or whether it is used in English, but I would be happy to find out from someone.  So, have a euphoric and benevolent week and avoid mal-de-mer, otherwise known as seasickness.

No comments:

Post a Comment