A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

The Hidden Troves of Etymology: Spirit

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The elucidating journey of etymology

To follow the path of a word through the ages can be quite an adventure. It usually reveals the unexpected beauty of the language we daily use. It is even more exciting when we research some common words that we all know and use in various situations. Consider the word spirit. It has the meaning of a ghost, or a more religious one as the holy spirit but we could also use it when referring to an alcoholic drink. Well, it all has its roots in the exchange of meanings and words between different languages and the historical evolution of connotations.

Below you can enjoy the story of one really popular word – spirit.

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Lost for words – the devastation caused by aphasia

Credit: Aphasia is still unexplored territory, but researchers are starting to get a better understanding of how the language system works and provide scientific bases for therapies that can give people a better quality of life; Gettyimages

Aphasia – a world without words

Aphasia is a devastating diagnosis that affects your ability to speak or understand language. It's a little-known condition that effects 300 000 Europeans every year and recently made headlines when actor Bruce Willis announced he was diagnosed with it.

Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by brain damage to the part of the brain that controls language. It often arises as a result of a stroke, brain tumour or a neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's.

The Hollywood actor and star of Die Hard, Bruce Willis recently announced his retirement following a diagnosis of aphasia. The condition affects a person's ability to speak or understand coherently.

Many had never heard of aphasia before learning this sad news, which is perhaps surprising given there are 300 000 new cases in the EU every year.

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What does Enantiodromia mean?

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Easy words,... difficult words...

Often, we hear words that seem to be incomprehensible or terms used by philosophers or scientists that are condemned as abstract or unearthly. There is a tendency, which praises the simplicity of popular language. Of course, if something cannot be described in a common and natural way, it raises suspicion. However, specialized scientific terms have their irreplaceable role in expressing exact notions and processes. Thereby, when mentioning words like apperception, transcendental, ontology, quantum continuum, etc., scientists (but not only,) are addressing certain phenomena that are hard to be described in simple words, or appear as vague as the terms themselves, if we use metaphors or some other literary device.

Here we've got one useful instrument for interpretation called hermeneutics – another foggy notion. In fact, it is not so difficult to understand that one. In our case, it is just to search for the definition or etymology of a given term and then put it into its specific context.

Today, we're going to take a look at the word enantiodromia. Have you heard that one, well, you could already say yes!

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The Secret Troves of Etymology: Symbol

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What does symbol mean?

We use a lot of words daily, we know what they mean in a particular case, however, once we go deeper into their meaning, we begin to lose ground under our feet. Here comes the help from Etymology. Some of the most abstract words we use today derive from natural or everyday life objects. For example, the word matter comes from the Latinmateria, which among other things, means "hard inner wood of a tree." Another one is the word electricitythat comes from the Greek ēlektron, which means "amber", or the word energy, which originates from the ancient Greek enérgon -"being active, into activity, working". The world of words is full of surprises, and the best aspect of that is that each one reveals an entirely new perspective towards what is known. Today, we will search for the elucidating history behind another one of these words –symbol.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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The Evolution of Words and Meanings

Words have their own history, which is as revealing and profound for the meaning they bring as, for example, the discovery of electricity for the rapid advancement of modern technology. Each step that language has made through the years left its footprint. A word is a bouquet of various senses and a multitude of connections with other words that eventually produces not only a notion of something but a feeling, imagery. Have you ever thought how is it possible that a given word describes its object so good, how irreplaceable it sounds? Well, it is not only that we have made a convention out of it. It is also the gradual sculpturing of meaning over and over through the centuries. Even though we are not always aware of all these transformations, we have adopted them when we learned to use language. It is a network that is erected upon a huge underground structure of nuances, contexts, and connotations, which are present although implicitly. When we use a word we give rise to a tremendous chain of meanings, that makes us perceive things in one way or another. Today, we will follow the long and captivating adventure of the word cosmos, which has always sounded so beautiful to me, and it turned out it has something to do with beauty.

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The secret troves of etymology

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Etymology of the word concert

There are many words that we daily use, words for which meaning we are sure of, and never ask where they come from. One of them is the word concert. I have no doubts that you all know that word and most probably you have used it recently. Well, of course, a concert means a public group (or solo) musical performance, a musical show. But what are the roots of that rather common word, where does it come from originally? Well, it turns out that the noun concert has a curious story.

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The hidden troves of etymology

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The word science

What do you imagine when you hear the word science? Isn't it people with white uniforms, peering into microscopes, surrounded by complicated machines and computers, checking statistics, and conducting complex experiments. Truly, that's part of its modern usage. But what does the word science actually mean, where does it come from? Maybe, some additional connotations could shed some light on the hidden processes that stand behind the visible action. As one could expect, this word has a long story that lays beneath it. Let's follow its history and see if there is something that we miss from first sight.

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Do you know how many words for love had the Ancient Greeks?

Credit: The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli c. 1485–1486 , Wikipedia

Our language defines the limits of our soul

The more we engage our minds with something, the better we fathom the depths of it, its infinity. We expand our understanding about something and when we reach its momentary limits we define it, we coin a word. Thus, we materialize our consciousness and mark its achievements for future generations. Our thoughts, our perception of the world, our actions, are in direct causal link with the language we have in use. As the Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein once said: "The limits of my language define the limits of my world." Well, it seems that ancient Greeks had a lot more interest in the different forms of love than us because these are not only synonyms but words of various perspectives towards the phenomenon of love. What about our contemporary culture? Which are the concepts that we develop the most? It's a pretty long topic, that we could discuss some other time. However, you could ponder over it and share your thoughts with us.

Below you can take a look at the richness of Ancient Greek concepts for one of the most important aspects of what we call humane.

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The Secret Troves of Etymology

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Etymology of the word Electricity

Have you ever wondered, which are the origins of the word Electricity? Is it coined especially for its modern usage? Had it been applied for other meanings in the past, as is the case with many other terms? My experience with searching the meaning and origins of words shows that the more common and used is a word in everyday conversations, the less we ask questions about it. As a result, we could easily find ourselves in the paradoxical situation of not knowing the real meaning of words we use on regular basis. And even more, a situation, in which most of the other people we are speaking to, don't know it too, though they, more or less, understand what we mean. So, let us dive once again into the puzzling world of language and its organic development through the years.

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The secret troves of Etymology

Credit: Unsplash by Brett Jordan

The word Method

One of the most commonly used words in the field of Science is method. Nowadays, we literally can't imagine how we could conduct an experiment or draw a conclusion without following some method. And not only in scholarly discourse but in everyday use, you can often hear someone describing another person or activity as being methodical or as lacking methodology. But what are the origins of this word, and how come it became so popular?

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Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
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