tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Sep 06 21:53:44 1999

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Re: KLBC: mu'qaD Etymology

jatlh charghwI':
> While Okrand has definitely hidden puns into words [It just hit
> me yesterday that the use of {mI'} as both "dance" and "number"
> may be an intentional word play as the dance band "plays another
> number"]


 > The same is true in English. If I am disheveled, does that
> suggest that I was ever sheveled or heveled?

[entered English in the 15th-century]
Semantically, /dishevelled/ "with untidy hair" and /unkempt/ "with uncombed
hair" are closely parallel formations.  /Dishevelled/ originated as an
adaptation of /deschevele/, the past participle of Old French /descheveler/
"disarrange the hair."  This was a compound verb formed from the prefix
/dis-/ "apart" and /chevel/ "hair," a descendant of Latin /capillus/ "hair"
(from which English got /capillary/ [17th-century]).  In Middle English its
meaning was extended to "without a head-dress," and even to "undressed," but
its modern metaphorical application is the more general "untidy."  (The verb
/dishevel/ was a late 16th-century back-formation from /dishevelled/.)

/Unkempt/ means literally "uncombed."  It was coined from the prefix /un-/
"not" and the past participle of the now defunct verb /kemb/ "comb."  This
came from a prehistoric Germanic */kambjan/, a derivative of */kambaz/
"comb" (ancestor of the English noun /comb/).  It began to be replaced by
the new verb /comb/ in the 14th-century.

-Dictionary of Word Origins, by John Ayto, 1990

So, in fact, "dishevelled" ORIGINALLY came from "dis-" plus something like
"shevelled," but it can't be used that way anymore.

However, your point is correct.  In Klingon, one cannot peel apart
word-elements and expect them to mean something.  We don't know the
etymology of most Klingon words, and assuming that we can guess them is
foolishness.  The etymologies we DO know support this: they tend to be
complex enough that they'd never be guessed.

I love my new word origins book!

Stardate 99681.5

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