What is Etymology

As etymology is called the discipline of Linguistics that is responsible for studying the origin and evolution of words, as well as its meaning and its forms. Hence, when we talk about the etymology of words we are referring to all these aspects.

In this sense, etymology, as a field of study associated with philology and the historical linguistics, Its purpose is to investigate, analyze and determine the origin of words, the reason for their existence, as well as the evolution of their meaning (if any) and their form..

To do this, etymology breaks down and analyzes the roots of the words, as well as their constituent elements, such as the ending, the theme, the radical or the ending of the word.

Likewise, etymology uses methods of comparative linguistics from which it attempts to reconstruct or deduce data associated with very ancient languages, generally prior to the invention of writing. Thus, they are able to determine aspects such as the source of origin of the word, the chronology of its incorporation into the language, or the changes in structure and meaning that it has undergone over time.

The importance of etymology As a discipline of linguistic study, it allows us to understand the origin and true meaning of words and, in this sense, it provides us with knowledge that helps us expand our vocabulary, correctly use synonyms and improve our spelling.

In it Spanish, a language that evolved from Latin, many voices from other languages ​​have been incorporated, for example, over the centuries, either for historical, political, economic or cultural reasons. Thus, from Arabic we get words like pillow or cotton, from French, words like pants or committee, while from Greek come many terms from the field of Medicine, such as ophthalmologist and dentist. Thus, etymology allows us to determine and understand its origin and other aspects.

The word etymologyas such, comes from Latin etymologyand this in turn from the Greek ἐτυμολογία (etymology), which is composed of the Greek roots ἐτυμος (ethimos), meaning ‘true’ or ‘authentic’, and λόγος (lógos), which translates ‘word’ or ‘expression’ , that is, the true origin of the word.

popular etymology

The popular etymology It is one that offers free interpretations, without rigor of any kind, about the origin of words. In this sense, people spontaneously attribute to a word an origin related to another word, generally of a different origin.

Hence, popular etymology can give rise to semantic misunderstandings, as is the case of “altozano”, or cause phonetic deformations, as in “necromancy”, which means ‘black magic’, originally necromancy, but altered due to its association with the word black.

In the same way, it happens with the word Yucatán, which popular etymology relates to a supposed expression that would mean ‘I don’t understand’ in the Mayan language, and which, according to a popular legend, was the response of the indigenous people when the Spanish , upon arriving at the homonymous peninsula, they asked where they were.

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