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Monday, November 7, 2011

G, g November, The Alphabet Project

During the month of November, I'll be blogging about etymology and the origins of the alphabet

G, g: By all that is reasonable and logical, G should derive from the Phoenician Gimel, "throwing stick," pictured left.  However, it does not.  Rather, it is the only letter in the alphabet attributed to a specific individual.  If we are to believe Plutarch, a freedman turned grammar-school teacher, Spurius Carvilius Ruga (parenthetically, the name Spurius means "false" or "illegitimate") created G from the Greek Zeta, (I) which resembles a majuscule I and is pronounced /z/.  Latin having no /z/ sound, Spurius reassigned it the hard /g/ of gold and glimmer.  (Plutarch also credits Ruga as the first Roman to get a divorce.)  In time, the leftward bars were lopped off, giving the letter a bracket look ( [ ).  Almost as if under the gravitional influence of C, which did descend from Gimel, G curved into a bow, retaining as a fish-hook bend in its lower half, the bottom bar of the original zeta.  The soft /g/ sound of gem and giant did not occur until Late Latin. 


God: By definition indefinable, the most that can be said is what God is not. For example, God is not a chipped white mug of Red Zinger Tea. Nor is God a vagrant standing at the access road to 285 with “Will work for food” written on cardboard with a magic marker. Unless God actually is those things, in which case, we’re back where we started. Derived from the Old Norse goth and ultimately from the Proto Indo-European, gheu, “to invoke, or call upon.” Hence, God is “the one prayed to.”

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Coming November 31st, THE RETURN OF THE STOOPID CONTEST!

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