This blog post provides two good lessons from one simple example - a learning bargain. And it's multi-lingual, too.
Yesterday I was doing a bit of preparation for my upcoming canoe trip to the distant Canadian north, viz., looking up French words for some of the activities our group will be doing. This is a good way to improve one's vocabulary. One of the group has guaranteed that he will catch plenty of fish for food for a few meals. Another fellow seems skilled at fishing, too, as he speaks of various lures, etc., that should work. So I looked up the word for "fishing" in French. Lo and behold, I found that it's quite similar to the word for "sin". And for "peach", too. Here they are:
Le péché - noun - meaning "sin" and pronounced "payshay".
La pêche - noun - meaning "fishing" and pronounced "pesh" [The word for "peach" is identical, but I'll stick with fishing and sinning.]
Lots of derivative words exist, too: pécher - verb for "to sin", le pécheur - a male sinner; And pêcher - verb for "to fish", le pêcheur, a male fisherman.
So what does this mean ? Do the concepts of sin and fishing have some connection in French culture ?
Hmmm ... speculating lazily, one could wonder if the Christian religion that dominated French culture and society for centuries might have produced some connection, via the notion of Christ "fishing" for souls, or from St. Peter being a fisherman, or the ancient sign for Christians being a fish. That's what a slothful pundit or blogger would bloviate. Not your writer.
I decided to check the facts - French is a romance language and many words derive from Latin. As I am re-learning Latin, I looked up the Latin words for "sin" and "fish". And lo and behold, here is what I found.
Latin for "to sin" is "peccare", thus "I sin" is "pecco". this is pronounced "pekko".
Latin for "a fish" is "piscis", pronounced "piskis" with the 'i' as in "pin" and the 's' as in "sin".
The similarities in the classical Latin of 2000 years ago can be no accident.
Over the centuries, classical Latin became the vulgar Latin of the common man, then became 'fratin' in Gaul, then Old French and now modern French. The spelling and pronunciation changed. Voilá - the two words independently converged. Modern French uses the acute accent é and the circumflex ê to distinguish the now minor spelling difference and modest pronunciation difference.
What are the two lessons ?
1. Independent, unconnected events, characteristics and traits CAN and DO evolve into near identities. Even two nearly identical things or events do not necessarily have a causal connection.
2. Check your facts, or risk a blunder.
I am still doing nothing. Je ne fais encore rien.
Word of the Day
"Perchance" - adverb [$10]
Perchance means 1. by chance; 2. possibly, maybe.
Sentence: Similarity may be due to a connection, or perchance be a mere accident.