Denote / Connote

02Dec07

Brian and I love words. Sometimes, just for kicks, we spend time looking up words and phrases in the Oxford English Dictionary, which has usage information for all the words in the English language. We get a real kick out of looking up idioms to see where they come from. This is how I know, for example, that “spitting image” comes from “spitten image” which comes from “spit and image” and blah blah blah.

So tonight, the hub came over to me as I worked on my birds and told me he thought that, given some of my recent posts, I’d be interested in the Oxford word of the year: locavore. Smiling, he asked what I thought it meant. I thought a moment and guessed: “people who only eat things that move?”

Close-ish, I guess. But no cigar. For the real meaning, you can go here.

After I found out what it meant, I decided I liked my meaning a lot better. It makes more sense. “Vore” comes from Latin, or at least that’s what I’m guessing. I think “loca” does, too (or at least “loco” does). And in Latin, I’m pretty sure “loco” has to do with movement.

I am basing all of this, of course, on nothing. My own head. I haven’t taken Latin, never studied etymology.

But ANYWAY, to make a long story short, we ended up having a lengthy debate over dinner about whether growing counts as moving. If a carrot, let’s say, grows down into the ground and up towards the sky, is it moving? If I nail my thumb to a plank and it swells, even as it’s pinned in place, is it moving?

The dictionary is little help. So much denotation, so little connotation. So I’m wondering: what do you think? Does growing or expanding count as moving or is it something else?

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4 Responses to “Denote / Connote”

  1. I don’t know Latin, but it seems to me that “loco” usually involves movement from one place to another – i.e. you have to leave behind the place you started to get there. Growing would be more like expansion: you continue to occupy the space where you started and simply expand from there.

  2. I didn’t even consider the possibility that occurs to me now: that the “loco” root of the word “locavore” could come from the Spanish, not the Latin, making the best meaning of the word “people who only eat crazy people.”

    I didn’t study Spanish, either, by the way.

  3. 3 hubby

    OK. But what about the fact that both the thumb and the carrot are both now occupying space they formerly did not occupy? Now they cover both points “A” and “B.” I know, not the same as moving from point “A” to point “B,” but new ground nonetheless.

    Or do they just eat crazy?

  4. 4 Corinne

    If you ever do go back to this entry–I think growing would count as being in the same category as moving. For example, German uses two different auxiliaries to form the past tense, depending on whether a verb involves change of location or state (these use “be”), or not (the rest use “have”). So, the verb for “to grow” uses the same auxiliary that is used for “to walk”, “to run”, etc. Not that this shows that growing is a kind of moving, but rather that growing and moving fall into the same category.


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