An Apology for Etymology

The definition of religionI was asked a question at a recent presentation I did up at the University of Chicago, concerning why the etymology of technical terms is a focus in an intro book that I wrote (and which I use in my own 100-level classes). Given my persistent critique of quests for origins it seems odd, or so the question might go, to focus on the origins of words, no?

etymology (n.)
late 14c., ethimolegia “facts of the origin and development of a word,” from Old French etimologie, ethimologie (14c., Modern French étymologie), from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologia “analysis of a word to find its true origin”

Good point. Why do I talk about etymologies in that book? Continue reading “An Apology for Etymology”

Of Planks and Specks and Ice Cream Trucks

a black and white photo of people waiting in line for an ice cream truckI recently wrote a post on living in Alabama, and the way it can be frustrating when those from elsewhere in the country adopt the moral high ground and judge us while exempting themselves from the same criteria. My point was that while, yes, there’s a number of complexities associated with the U.S. south when it comes to such topics as the history of race relations, they are hardly unique to this part of the country. Continue reading “Of Planks and Specks and Ice Cream Trucks”