Why do some words steal away?

As writers we all appreciate that the English language is in a constant state of change. We maybe think that this change comes about gradually over decades or centuries. But it is apparent, now that we have the busy frantic world of cyberspace to contend with, the changes are in fact very rapid; or has it become more rapid because of cyberspace?

 I have been intrigued, in the last year, over some of the language, which I still use on an everyday basis, which is considered obsolete and archaic. Especially by editor software programs. Some of you will remember the consternation I suffered on finding that the word ‘founder’ was misunderstood by so many of you. Used, in the way that I wished it to be understood, it meant something foundering on an immovable and deadly obstacle, such as a ship foundering upon the rocks. But so many people only knew the word meaning somebody who began something as in, someone who foundered a university. This would of course turn my sentence into total nonsense. Some of you did, of course, still know the other meaning of this and that founder is not yet an obsolete word. And I only had to change the order of the words for the meaning to become clearer.

 Then quite recently somebody was asking if there was any suggestions for a new word for friends who were closer than kin. We know our kin, they are our blood relatives. Unfortunately we don’t always like them that much. And friends can become very important. Very close friends, more important than kin whom we don’t like very much. When I was growing up they were kith.As in kith and kin.

I was intrigued and went to the dictionary, to find out that kith is considered obsolete and is only known because it goes with kith and kin. I have always used it for my very close friends. Investigating further I discovered that originally it meant

 Kith: knowledge, know, familiar country, friends and acquaintances.

 The whole ‘kith and kin’ expression originally meant native land and people.

 So maybe we do a new word to describe very close friends who are closer than the kin we don’t like very much.

 About 12 months ago I followed a discussion online about the word ‘quick’. There was a teacher reporting that her children had asked what quick meant in the expression ‘quick and the dead’.  She didn’t know, and neither did any of her many followers. I ascertained that she was far younger than I was, most people on cyberspace are I have to say. But it amazed me that they didn’t know the expression. You do not have to follow the teachings of Christianity I would have thought to know the expression.  (It is in the Book of Common Prayer and it is mentioned at least 3 times in the Bible.) We were taught the Bible as part of our education when I was a child, not just for religious reasons but because it is one of England’s finest pieces of literature. Well, when I was a child, the King James’s version of it was considered to be so. In the same vein as Shakespeare. Many, many, of our expressions, proverbs and sayings originate from this version. So many quotes, illusions and references, drawn from this work, enrich our other literature

 So I’m thinking, okay the powers that be decided we were all too stupid to understand the King James’s version of archaic English, despite its richness and beauty and the fact that many centuries of us had managed to learn what it all meant! And brought various new versions out since then, maybe they don’t say the ‘quick and the dead’ any more, but, what about biting your nails down to the ‘quick’- has that also vanished?  We do still say ‘quicksand’ and ‘quicklime’ – well I think we do. Do people bother to question why quick are in any of those? It can’t mean just fast, speedy, it would make no sense; you are sucked down by quicksand it is not fast and speedy, you are slowly consumed.

 So what does quick in the ‘quick and the dead’ actually mean.

 The ‘quick and the dead’ originally meant all souls alive or dead. Jesus is supposed to be able to judge the quick and the dead when the day of judgement comes.

 This is because the original meaning of quick meant

endowed with life or alive, so quick meant alive.

The alive and the dead. In the old days, no not when I was growing up:)  a woman would ‘quicken’, which was when they first felt their baby move in the womb.

 Quicksand is quicksand because the sand appears to move and was deemed to have a life of its own. Quicklime bubbles therefore it has a life of its own. And when you bite your nails ‘down to the quick’, you are biting them down to the tender, very sensitive part under the nail, which is ‘alive’ as opposed to the dead part that is the nail. In the dictionary ‘quick’ in this alive sense is referred to as archaic.

Maybe some of you reading this also did not know that it meant alive and also think the only meaning of it is fast and speedy. It is going the same way as founder (meaning to come to grief on something sharp like rocks.) Probably before I cast off my mortal coil, kith, quick and founder will  have vanished. Along with many others that I have discovered while I’ve been up here listening to the chatter of the web.

What makes one word leave us and one stay? – we all know dead, kin and the founder of an institution.  Why did the others fold their tents in the night?

 I’m not complaining, well not very much! Because I do like the fact that English changes all the time and many of the new words coming in I have gathered to my self with great glee, much to the disgust sometimes, of my friend from forever/editor.  I have to confess to a little sadness at losing some of them. But hey, if English is to be a ‘quick’ language as opposed to a ‘dead’ one, we have to put up with these things.

 Row80 update

 I have achieved wondrous word counts this week but very little else. I have to go back for some more tests for this old ticker of mine and in the meantime the doctor has given me some new pills. Which haven’t yet kicked in. So my energy is way, way down.

Last week I waxed lyrical about my Dragon, my new bestest friend. And this week, because of my new friend, I have managed to finish another four short stories for my folktale book. An amazing 16,000 words:)

 This was accomplished in four one hour sessions over two days. The only two days I had the energy to write anything. I couldn’t have managed this word count if I had been feeling well, not in two days, so I am well pleased. It means word count wise I am well on track.

 I have this time around completed the music of a new trailer before I even have the storyboard, but the music has inspired the storyboard. And I have been playing with layering and pasting the photographs, so the trailer for The Storyteller’s Tale is progressing well. This was also something I could do sitting in the armchair without too much effort.

 I have been absent a lot from places like Facebook and Goodreads, only just managing to keep up with Triberr, I feel as I have committed myself to these tribes I do have to do those as often as possible.

 I am managing to keep up with the garden, 30 mins a day and walking the dog for the same, so I am getting fresh air sunshine and exercise which I know is doing me good even if I don’t appreciate it:(

 Next week

 I will have to start editing the short stories, and write two more.

 I would like to get back to posting, reviews, depends on these new pills.

 I would like to write more of Ancestors Tale and possibly edit some more Blue Moon, which might be possible now that I’m so far advanced on the folktales.

 I do hope everybody has had a good week, and that the coming week will be all that they wish. Keep smiling everyone.

6 thoughts on “Why do some words steal away?

  1. Julia Indigo says:

    I think you mean that a university has a founder – but that person didn’t founder the university. S/he founded it.

    (Yeah, I’m behind in my blog reading!)

    The quick and the dead always gave me a start – in my mind I translate it to ‘the living and the dead’, i.e. everybody. :)

    • alberta says:

      Sorry spelling mistake:( um the way I had originaly wordered the founder word I thought left no doubt which meaning was needed but of course one does need to know each meaning, so confusion occured – the quick and the dead from the bible certainly means living and dead =everyone – well every soul, alive and already dead – it was for judgement day – even if you had been dead for a million years you could still be judged so don’t even think you safe then, if you have sinned you will be found out – I think it is a great phrase:)

      wouldn’t worry about being behind – I slip further and further back along the road – can barely see the dust from the blogs ahead:(

  2. Very nice with the word counts! I loved this post because, as you know, I adore learning about the English language. I’m also fascinated by our phrases, etymology, and the fluidity of language. I am saddened that particular idioms are no longer understood, such as sounding like a broken record. I was unaware of the word “kith” but I think it’s awesome. Let’s add it back in! I also adore the word “kench”–an obsolete word that means “to laugh loudly.” I use it whenever I can!

    • alberta says:

      I hadn’t realised ‘broken record’ wasn’t understood – ‘spose that’s going to be inevitable – sad tho’ – I really liked records still have my collection of vinyl but of course they melt rather than break! – got some of Dads breakable one ustairs, Think the idea of resurecting the obsolete a great idea ‘kench’ is a good word – will try and include. of course the words I grew up on I still use and just have to explain myself to blank faces every now and then, I won’t accept obsolete easily:)

  3. Interesting. I always assumed, “the quick and the dead” referred to the fact that in a fight (specifically US “Old West” gunfights), one was either quick (fast) or he ended up dead. Crazy Americans. ;-)

  4. I love the variety of English. And I think that the internet will keep a lot more archaic language alive — because we have access to references without any trouble at all. Also, we have more and more access to dated texts, and to things written by people in other countries.

    In the meantime, take care of your health! Sounds like you are making very good progress under the circumstances.

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