The Life of Words
March 17, 2013
There’s something I love and had forgotten it had a name: Etymology, “the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.”
I often look up the roots of a word to get a more profound sense of what exactly is behind its normal, assumed, mundane meaning. When it comes to words and language, I think it’s important to remember that language is a living thing that evolves. Which means to say languages moves, it rolls, it twists, it changes. It never stays the same, and its purpose is not to stay the same, because that would mean that it’s dead. Like Latin.
So, 1. Language is a living being that evolves and 2. translating changes meaning considerably. If you’re the kind of person who’s interested in Truth, I think it’s of tantamount importance to remember that much, if not the majority, of historical texts we have have been translated, often many times. Take Jesus’ teachings, and the Bible. Both translated over thousands of years, many times. The more you translate, the farther you get from the original intended meaning.
What’s up with the Biblical talk? Well, this morning I somehow ended up in a conversation with a friend about Jesus and persecution… Oh yes – My 34th birthday is coming up in a few days, and this friend mentioned something about Jesus dying at age 33. I quipped, “Well, at least I haven’t been crucified yet.” Yet. I feel like I might be getting close here at the Ashram, as the pressure has been growing for me to make some Choices about what I’m doing here and what path I want to be on.
Anyways, said friend brought up how Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda all said that if you follow god, you’ll be persecuted.
So I asked: What does “persecuted” really mean?
Of course, we think of persecuted as a negative – punished, attacked, abused, jailed.
The current definition is:
1. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.2. To annoy persistently; bother.
Middle English, from Old French persecuter, back-formation from persecuteur, persecutor, from Late Latin persector, from persectus, past participle of persequ, to persecute, from Latin, to pursue : per-, per- + sequ, to follow; see sekw-1 in Indo-European roots.