or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh Boy

I think that cats are the most aesthetically pleasing of the animals we encounter in everyday life, and among the most beautiful of all the animals there are. I think that men in general are or at least have the potential to be aesthetically pleasing, and that men with beards are doubly so (in fact I think that with few exceptions all men require facial hair to reach their full aesthetic potential). Therefore, it makes sense that men, particularly bearded men, and cats ought to create a sort of ornamental synergy, and I am not the only person who thinks so, which is why websites like Boys with Beards with Cats exist and provide us with pictures like this, which is labelled "Cutest Cat On Earth?"

and also sites like Hot Guys With Cats which bolster my contention with pictures like this

and I rest my case.

Even without the beard, when you have a man who looks like Marlon Brando in his prime, you get pictures like this

and this

and, well, just look at them!

In a desperate attempt to tie this into my usual line of investigation I have a question for you. In the name of the website Boys With Beards With Cats, there are three nouns: which is the odd word out? I'll give you a minute. You can look at this picture while you think about it.

The answer is "Boys", because the other two are Germanic, and what's more, they even look like their modern German counterparts: "beard" is "Bart" and "cat" is "Katz". There are several contentious etymologies for "boy" and I'm not going to get into them, but none of them has direct roots in German (although Google Translate tells me that one of the synonyms for "boy", alongside the "Junge" and "Knabe" which I learned in university, is "Boy", leading me to assume that if Google Translate is correct, which is not a given, then German borrowed it from us).

But the origin of "with" is very, very interesting. It is also Germanic, related to modern German "wieder", "back" or "again", and it originated in Old English as "wi∂er" or "wither" (unrelated to the modern verb "wither", which is a variant of "weather"). And "wither" meant "against", as "with" occasionally does nowadays: you can fight with someone or fight against them, and it's the same thing. There are other remnants of against-with in English: "widdershins" means "counterclockwise", or literally "against the way", and "withstand" means "stand against".


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