or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sneezing Fit

I went to see "An Inconvenient Truth" today and thought it was very good: it certainly made me wish that Al Gore had been elected in 2000.

I can't remember the context, but Gore used the word "sound" in the sense of "healthy" or "secure", and ordinarily that would have gotten me to thinking, but I needed to attend to the movie, so I filed it away for later perusal. Thank goodness for short-term memory.

What I was wondering, naturally enough, was whether "sound" as in healthy was related to "sound" as in noise, though I couldn't imagine how it might be. The noisy one, I knew, was related to French "son", which came to us from the Latin "sonus", from which we get a great many words including "resonant", "sonogram", "consonant", "sonata", and "sonorous". I had no idea, though, where the healthy one might have come from.

German, it turns out, via Anglo-Saxon, and what a surprise that was, though I should have known: in English, when someone sneezes, we're liable to say "gesundheit", which means "health" (the "-heit" on the end is the same as English "-hood", which we attach to a noun to give it the sense of "having the quality of"). Gesund = sound = healthy. So simple when you know the trick!


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