or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rough and Tumble

The other day I discovered that the Polish word "Rudobrody" means "Red Beard". I don't know if it's an actual, usual word, or if it was composited out of two words (or parts of words, or word stems, or what), but there it is on the movie poster, and presumably Polish people can translate it without any effort.

Today I wondered about the English word "rude". "Rudo-" seems pretty clearly related to "ruddy", meaning "reddish" when applied to the complexion, and "ruddy", and also "red", are from Indo-European "reudh-".

Now, "rude", in its usual English sense of "ill-mannered", doesn't have anything to do with this, that's obvious. But there is another sense of "rude", not heard so much any more but still in currency, meaning "vigorous"; it's generally seen in the expression "rude good health". So my question to myself was, is this rude related to "ruddy"? Seems like it ought to be.

'Tisn't, though. Every sense of "rude" in English is from the same source: Latin "rudis", meaning rough, either in manners or in surface texture. "Rude good health" simply means that its possessor isn't effete and coddled, but is strong and robust in an earthy way, a sort of Rousseauvian natural man.


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