Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

electronyms (was: Greek plurals)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Thursday, September 13, 2007, 12:53
John Vertical wrote:
>>Andreas Johansson wrote:
>>>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 > > _ienai_ > >>>"to go". >> >>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, >>proton etc.
> 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 aware. 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 ;) -- Ray ================================== ================================== Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu. There's none too old to learn. [WELSH PROVERB]


Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>