Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Elections & such


Elections & such

I must admit, I find humor in the fact that last week’s post covered demons & devils, & this week’s post moves to politics.

The word Election came to English in the late 1200s, from the French word elecion, meaning choice, election or selection. This term came from the Latin word electionem, which has its roots in the Latin word legere, which meant to choose, or read. I’m inclined to think that with teleprompters, handlers, editing, and the inherent bias of media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a truly good read on candidates.

Vote entered English in the mid-1400s, & comes from the Latin word votum, a vow, wish, promise or dedication. This suggests a much more active role than most modern Americans appear to understand. Imagine the difference in mindset if we all envisioned each vote as a promise or vow.

While researching vote & election I stumbled upon the term suffrage, which has always intrigued me. Suffrage came to English in the 1300s and meant prayers or pleas on behalf of another. It comes from the Latin word suffragium, which refers to the right to vote or to lend support. Prayers, pleas, & support seem to reflect a different understanding of voting, again, an understanding closer to the idea of a promise or vow. Interestingly, suffrage also suggests the elections of the past weren’t entirely sweet & light, as the word parts that add up to suffragium are sub- & -frangere, which respectively mean under & shouting.

The word ballot comes from Italian word pallotte, or small ball, due to the Venetian practice of voting by casting a particular colored ball into a bowl or basket. From this we have the term to blackball.

Dear followers, please have something to say this voting season. Here on Wordmonger, you can feel safe, free from shouting & blackballing.


My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Etymoniline.com, The OED & The Ottawa Citizen.

5 comments:

  1. I love it that legere means both to choose and to read. Maybe people who don't read shouldn't be allowed to make choices for us? We'll all have a little less suffer-age. :-)

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  2. Ha!
    Thanks for dropping by, Anne. I, also, am fascinated by the idea that electing the right candidate has a direct relationship to reading.

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  3. YES, JEFFERSON WANTED AND EXPECTED ONLY "EDUCATED" PEOPLE TO VOTE. IF YOU JUDGE THAT BY BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONSTITUTION, ETC., WE'D PROBABLY HAVE ABOUT 1/3 THE EDUCATED VOTERS WE HAVE NOW. GAWD, I'LL BE GLAD WHEN WEDNESDAY COMES.

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  4. A vow, wish, promise or dedication. Wouldn't it be grand if those we voted for took our votes as vows and promises to actually do those things they assured us they are dedicated to. Like democracy! Thanks Charlie. I always look forward to your posts!

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  5. Hey Christine & SK,
    Yes, Christine, I love the idea that as voters, we are making vows upon voting & the flipside you mention. Steve, that "educated voter" concept has always fascinated me, both from the perspective of keeping out the riffraff & through the premise that such a stance requires true education of the entire populace. Thanks to both of you for coming by.

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