Etymology: the origin of words

We are surrounded by words and even if we don't think about it, they have much more to tell us. Because it is not about talking about its meaning simply, but knowing what its meaning has been. trajectory, its evolution and adaptation in each historical moment where they are. Hence, the study of the meaning of names gives us much more. Etymology comes from the Latin 'etymologia' and at the same time from the Greek composed of 'étymos' (element, true) and 'logia' (word).

Therefore, the etymology It is the specialty or science that shows us a complete study of the past of that word or words. Since we all need to know our origins and the vocabulary we use every day, too. A kind of genealogical tree, but the words are related, it is the path that the etymology shows us. Do you want to find out?

What is etymology?

Etymology The origin of words

Broadly speaking, we have already been announcing what it encompasses. It can be said that etymology is the study or specialty and also science that is responsible for study the origin of words. It seems very simple, but it is not so simple. Although we can say that it is rather something amazing, that it throws us many secrets. In order to make an analysis of that origin and follow the passage of time in each word, the etymology also has different aids. Since it is intended to analyze where the word comes from, how it is incorporated into a language and how it usually varies in terms of meanings and over time.

Etymology and historical linguistics

Both have a great relationship, since the historical linguistics, or also known as purchased, is another of those disciplines that study the change that occurs in a language as time progresses. For this, it is based on different methods, thus managing to find similarities in different languages. These methods focus on linguistic loanwords (words that are adapted in another language), on other occasions we have that it is chance that leads us to speak of similar words and of course, cognates. In this case, these are words that have the same origin but a different evolution.

Hence, historical linguistics has to begin to make a comparative formula. Then you will have to follow a reconstruction of isolated languages (those that do not have notable kinship with another language), to note all kinds of variation. Another step to understand evolutions is to study the words that are related and common in different languages. Only in this way, we will come to understand more where the vocabulary we use comes from.

Why study etymology

It is a fairly simple question to answer. Now that we know what it is responsible for, we will simply say that thanks to it, we will increase our knowledge. How? Discovering the meaning or meanings of a word, so our vocabulary will be increased. In addition to knowing the origins and contributions of other languages ​​to a specific one. Without forgetting that all this, too allows us to write better. Our spelling will reflect that study. Therefore, investigating the etymology gives us more than we thought at first. But there is still one more point, and that is that, thanks to this, the most historical part also opens. Making us see how a word has passed through several different peoples, several centuries with all its events, until reaching the present. Interesting, right?

First mentions of etymology in history

To talk about the first mentions, we have to go back to the Greek poets. On the one hand we have Pindar. One of the great lyrical poets that Ancient Greece had. His works have been preserved on papyri, but even so what has come down to us reflects the mixture of various dialects. So the etymology was very present in his writings. The same thing happened with Plutarco.

Another of the great names, who after his many trips was looking at the different sounds that words had, in each port. Although 'Vidas Paralelas' was one of his great works, without forgetting 'La Moralia'. In the latter, different works by Plutarch which were collected by the Monk Máximo Planudes. Be that as it may, in them he also makes allusions to etymology.

The Diachrony

In this case, it is also related and is closely linked to the etymology. But in this specific case, we can say that Diachrony focuses on a fact and its study over the years. For example, in the case of a word and all its evolution until reaching the present. Seeing and checking all those sound or consonant and vowel changes that you may have had.

If we think for a moment about the diachrony of Spanish, it is the study from the old Castilian, the changes it has had, the similarities or differences with the Romance languages, etc. After the publication of the work of the linguist Saussure, the one who makes a distinction between diachrony and synchrony. Since the latter refers to the study of a language but only at a certain moment and not throughout history as diachrony.