or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Together

So I'm heading to work on the bus with my iPod running, as usual, and I'm listening to "Sorry" by Madonna (I'm not her biggest fan, to say the least, but that is a really terrific song), which starts with her apologizing in various languages, one of which is French: "Je suis désolée", she says.

The next song is "Killer 2000" by ATB, a Seal song remade with a kick-ass beat, and the chorus contains the word "solitary", and as soon as I hear that, I start thinking as follows: "'Désolée' must be related to 'desolate', which resembles 'solace', and surely they all have to have some connection to 'solitary'. Right?" But since I'm on a bus, I can't check it, so it haunts me for the rest of the day.

Here's how it stands, now that I'm home from work: "désolée" and "desolate" are pretty much identical, from the Latin "de-" plus "solus", "alone", forming the verb "desolare", "to abandon". "Solitary" is also, obviously, from this same root word, as are "sole" and "solo", "soliloquy" (what you say when you're alone), and, amusingly, "sullen".

"Solace", however, is entirely unrelated to "desolate", which is really a shame, but that's etymology for you. It comes from Latin "solari", which also gave us the verb "console", which has more or less the same meaning as the verb "solace". A related Greek word, "hilaros" (they both stem from the same Indo-European root), gave us, self-evidently, "hilarious" and "hilarity" and "exhilarate" too--and also, delightfully, the name Hilary.


Blogger Frank said...

There was an early pope named Hilarius. I was kinda hoping now-Pope Benny would go that route, just for the... hilarity of it! But he really isn't a Hilarius, is he? Still, I've often wondered what that ancient pope was like. Did he crack jokes during the sermon?

Sunday, March 04, 2007 3:12:00 AM  

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