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13 March 2004

Borrowing words


'Yes, even their names were never quite right. They imagined they had their own names - quite different from human names - but with half an ear you could tell they were borrowed. Even Uncle Hendreary's and Eggletina's. Everything they had was borrowed; they had nothing of their own at all. Nothing. In spite of this, my brother said, they were touchy and conceited and thought they owned the world.''

From The Borrowers. Etymology is the study of word borrowing. So too is HP Labs' Implicit Structure and the Dynamics of Blogspace

Posted at 06:23 PM in Collecting, Naming | Permalink


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Iam McDonald wrote a novel called Hearts, Hands and Voices (published in the US as "The Broken Land"), which I consider one of the great, underappreciated science fiction novels of the 20th Century. It is screamingly brilliant, and the first chapter opens with a parable of the Catholic-Protestant conflict in Ireland, in which all the streets and buildings in the protagonist's villages are renamed with words form the language of an occupying army. The description of the displacement of vocabulaary and the subsequent shifts in values is stunning, haunting.

Posted by: Cory Doctorow at 13 Mar 2004 20:18:24

Er, Ian McDonald, not Iam.

Posted by: Cory Doctorow at 13 Mar 2004 20:40:30

Thanks for the pointer.

Posted by: Foe at 14 Mar 2004 11:49:00