Thursday, October 31, 2013
An Etymological Blast Back to the Past
with Guest Eva Maria Hamilton
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!!!
I’m honored to have been invited to guest blog today!
Thank you, Seekers!
But I can’t believe it’s the last day of the Birthday Bash! What will we do with all the party decorations, the left over food, the music that keeps playing in our heads?
How about we use them to get through NaNoWriMo!
Is anyone participating? I can’t since I need to finish my WIP. Nevertheless, even if you’re like me and can’t fully participate, we can still write along with everyone else, feel the camaraderie, write incredible amounts of words, and speed to the finish line.
And speaking of speeding, my poor truck driver told me he got a ticket bringing the supplies for next month here. So please, since I have to pay the ticket anyway, stock up for next month. It’s going to be a ton of work, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, now would we?
But that’s enough talk about the future. It’s time to take a trip back to the past. We’ll be visiting my favorite Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/ This is where I look up every word in my historical romance novels to make sure the words I use existed when my story took place.
And for those of you who don’t write historicals, I hope you’ll still find it useful. And of course it’s fun. There are tons of words I come across by accident where their origins or meanings surprise me.
So let’s take a look at a few:
Writer (n.)- Old English writere “one who can write, clerk; one who produces books or literary compositions,”…
Writer’s cramp- attested by 1853
Writer’s block- by 1950.
Don’t you love the fact that before 1950 writer’s block didn’t exist. Jane Austen you were so lucky! ;)
Novelist (n.)- “writer of novels,” 1728…Earlier in English, it meant “an innovator” (1580s)
An innovator- sounds good, don’t you think?
Novel (n.)- “fictitious narrative,” 1560s, from Italian novella “short story” originally “new story” from Latin novella “new things”…Originally “one of the tales or short stories in a collection” (esp. Boccaccio’s), later (1630s) “long work of fiction,” works which had before that been called romances.
So the novel was born from romances! Well then, let’s look into that…
Romance (n.)- c. 1300, “a story, written or recited, of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc., often one designed principally for entertainment,”… Literary sense extended by 1660s to “a love story.” Meaning “adventurous quality” first recorded 1801; that of “love affair” is from 1916.
Romance novel attested from 1964.
Anyone else, think that the term romance novel existed earlier then 1964?
And now, what about love:
Love- Meaning “a beloved person” is from early 13c. The sense “no score” (in tennis, etc.) is 1742, from the notion of “playing for love,” i.e. “for nothing” (1670s).
For love or money- “for anything” is attested from 1580s.
Love Seat- from 1904.
Love-letter- from mid-13c.
Love-song- from early 14c.
To fall in love- from early 15c.
To be in love with (someone)- c.1500.
To make love- from 1570s in the sense “pay amorous attention to;” as a euphemism for “have sex,” it is attested from c.1950.
Love life- “one’s collective amorous activities” is from 1919, originally a term in psychological jargon.
Love affair- from 1590s
No love lost (between two people)- is ambiguous and was used 17c. in reference to two who love each other well (c.1640) as well as two who have no love for each other (1620s).
Well, even though “make love” meant something different before 1950, I don’t think I’d use the term, considering what modern readers would assume it meant!
And therein lies some of the fun.
So let’s have a quiz.
Who came first, the hero or the heroine?
I’ll answer that at the end. But in the meantime, let’s look at some words that might accidentally creep into an historical novel. Here are a couple I’ve had to delete from my manuscripts and my writing vocabulary. And let me tell you, sometimes it’s easy to find a replacement word and sometimes it’s next to impossible.
Quite: early 14c., adverbial form of Middle English quit, quite (adj.) “free, clear”. Originally “thoroughly;” the weaker sense of “fairly” is attested from mid-19c.
I can’t quite tell you how many times I’ve wanted my characters to use this word. But since I haven’t written a manuscript later than 1814, I can’t, which of course is quite unfortunate.
And here’s another phrase that I dance around quite frequently.
You’re Welcome: as a formulaic response to thank you is attested from 1907.
Can you believe it’s as late as 1907? My poor characters must come up with so many other ways to express this common response, unless of course I just argue that they’re ahead of their time. ;)
And now back to heros versus heroines.
Hero (n.)- late 14c., “man of superhuman strength or physical courage,” from Latin heros “hero,” from Greek heros “demi-god” (a variant singular of which heroe), originally “defender, protector,”… Meaning “man who exhibits great bravery” in any course of action is from 1660s. Sense of “chief male character in a play, story, etc.” first recorded 1690s. First record of Hero-worship is from 1774.
Heroine (n.)- 1650s, from Latin heroine… “a female hero, a demigoddess” (e.g. Medea), from Greek heroine, fem. Of heros… As “principal female character” in a drama or poem, from 1715.
So the hero wins! No surprise there for anyone who’s ever studied women’s history. But let’s not delve into that today. This is still a party! And anyway, it’s your turn now. Look up a word you’re curious about and share it in the comments. I can’t wait to see what everyone uncovers! And someone will get a chance to win a copy of my novel, Highland Hearts.
So Happy NaNoWriMo Eve!
I wonder when that term will enter the online etymology dictionary?
Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, is an Historical Romance Finalist, as well as an Inspirational Traditional Romance Finalist in the Heart of Excellence, Reader’s Choice Contest, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
The Battle of Culloden is over, but one Highlander’s fight has just begun…
Logan McAllister survived years of indentured servitude in the Americas to reach this moment. Now he’s returned to Scotland, ready to redeem the secret promise from Sheena Montgomery’s father – that his years as an indentured servant would earn him Sheena’s hand in marriage. But when he arrives home, he learns that Sheena’s father has died, his contract has been lost… and Sheena is engaged to another man.
To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at www.evamariahamilton.com