etymology of "etymology"

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 15 00:34:28 UTC 2010

Victor, I did not have the source.  It was from an email.  Looks like you found it alright.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
see phonetic spelling

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> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: victor steinbok
> Subject: Re: etymology of "etymology"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Tom, if you are going to post something like this, would it be too
> much to offer a citation to the source? I know, it can be found rather
> easily. But, if you think it is interesting and copy a rather
> substantial portion of the piece (like, 100%), it's only common
> courtesy to provide a citation or a link.
> Turns out, this is from Personally, I never cite
> as an authoritative source (although it provides quite a few citations
> for misuse). And even without reading the whole piece, I've spotted
> one thing I disagree with.
> Joyce might have "coined" the original noun "quark" (I don't think he
> did--see below). But the noun "quark" means something entirely
> different today and the two uses are almost entirely unrelated (I am
> only saying "almost" because there is a superficial underlying
> metaphor that underlies the coinage). Murray Gell-Mann, who actually
> proposed the quark model for the "particle zoo", became the one to
> have actually coined the term as it is in use today. Depending on whom
> you believe, he either based the name itself on Joyce's passage (which
> makes little sense until you look at the original model), or he coined
> the term first but did not settle on the spelling until he came across
> "quark" in Finnegans Wake. Wiki says (yes, I know--another
> authoritative source; but this one is actually closer to the truth):
> ==
> Gell-Mann originally named the quark after the sound made by
> ducks.[44] For some time, he was undecided on an actual spelling for
> the term he intended to coin, until he found the word quark in James
> Joyce's book Finnegans Wake:
> Three quarks for Muster Mark!
> Sure he has not got much of a bark
> And sure any he has it's all beside the mark.
> —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake[45]
> ==
> To make matters worse, it appears, Joyce did not even coin the word in
> the first place!
> From (which claims to have copied it from AHD4)
> ==
> Word History: "Three quarks for Muster Mark!/Sure he hasn't got much
> of a bark/And sure any he has it's all beside the mark." This passage
> from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, part of a scurrilous 13-line poem
> directed against King Mark, the cuckolded husband in the Tristan
> legend, has left its mark on modern physics. The poem and the
> accompanying prose are packed with names of birds and words suggestive
> of birds, and the poem is a squawk against the king that suggests the
> cawing of a crow. The word quark comes from the standard English verb
> quark, meaning "to caw, croak," and also from the dialectal verb
> quawk, meaning "to caw, screech like a bird." It is easy to see why
> Joyce chose the word, but why should it have become the name for a
> group of hypothetical subatomic particles proposed as the fundamental
> units of matter? Murray Gell-Mann, the physicist who proposed this
> name for these particles, said in a private letter of June 27, 1978,
> to the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary that he had been
> influenced by Joyce's words: "The allusion to three quarks seemed
> perfect" (originally there were only three subatomic quarks).
> Gell-Mann, however, wanted to pronounce the word with (ô) not (ä), as
> Joyce seemed to indicate by rhyming words in the vicinity such as
> Mark. Gell-Mann got around that "by supposing that one ingredient of
> the line 'Three quarks for Muster Mark' was a cry of 'Three quarts for
> Mister . . . ' heard in H.C. Earwicker's pub," a plausible suggestion
> given the complex punning in Joyce's novel. It seems appropriate that
> this perplexing and humorous novel should have supplied the term for
> particles that come in six "flavors" and three "colors."
> ==
> Then, of course, there is the quark cheese, which predates Joyce by a
> few hundred years. The cheese is something between cream cream cheese
> and heavy yoghurt. But its consistency is completely irrelevant--the
> point is, no matter how you slice it, Joyce did not coin the word.
> I am not even going to bother with the rest of it--perhaps it's all
> accurate, perhaps not. But I have no interest in deconstructing it any
> further.
> VS-)
> On Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
>> Interesting post I've copied below:
>> Introduction to Etymology: Word Histories.
>> What's the Difference Between a Definition and an Etymology?
>> A definition tells us what a word means and how it's used in our own time.
>> An etymology tells us where a word came from (often, but not always, from another language) and what it used to mean.
> ...
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