electronyms (was: Greek plurals)
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, September 13, 2007, 12:53|
John Vertical wrote:
>>Andreas Johansson wrote:[snip]
>>>I'd always assumed "electron" as the name of the particle was a
>>>back-formation from "electric" etc, and the American Heritage Dictionary
>>>indeed gives this etymology.
> Certainly, considering that the electron was discovered a few centuries
> later than electricity.
>>>They further tell that the ending "-on" is extrapolated from "ion", which in
>>>turn apparently is a greek present participle "(smth) that goes", from
>>Maybe - the etymologies in my dictionary are far too brief. It does
>>suggest that's its a re-use of the word _electron_ on analogy with ion,
> The electron was the first subatomic particle to be discovered - protons,
> neutrons etc. came later. "Ion" was indeed around before tho...
OK - so I'd should've written "on analogy with _ion_."
> (Frankly I'm surprized to discover that this ISN'T common knoledge even
> here. Groing up in an extremely geeky environment ensures that I get that
> pretty offen, really...)
What isn't? That electrons were discovered before protons, neutrons
etc.? I must confess I don't know the history of their discovery, tho I
have no doubt that those over here who are involved in such things are
Or do you mean the etymology of _electron_? I see the Wikipedia article
says: "The name "electron" comes from the Greek word for amber, ήλεκτρον."
So if I was mistaken in my initial etymology, then I am not alone. It
seems to me conceivable that _electron_ was adopted because it happen to
have the same apparent ending as _ion_ and that this set the pattern for
all the later coinages.
But it seems to me not really worth arguing whether:
(a) _electron_ was derived directly from the ancient Greek word because
the ending -on sort of made it go nicely with _ion_; or
(b) It was derived by taking the bound morpheme _electr(o)-_, which is
derived from the ancient Greek ήλεκτρον (electron), to which the -on of
_ion_ was added.
It sort of reminds me of abstruse theological arguments ;)
> BTW, are there any non-Greek-based neologisms for the concept of electricity
> in the languages of the world, other than Finnish _sähkö_? (It's a
> portmanteau of sorts of _säkenöidä_ "to sparkle" and _sähistä_ "to hiss".)
Isn't the modern Hebrew for 'electricity' derived from a Biblical Hebrew
word for _amber_? And the Chinese is certainly non-Greek-based, namely
dian4 (which IIRC is also the word for 'lightning').
PS 'electronym' is AFAIK a neologism ;)
Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.