In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

scroll, skull, shawl, scrotum

These words are not etymologically but sonically related, and resonate auratically with themes explored here.

Here's the etymological logroll/blogroll/roll-call/google search results for "scroll."

scroll (n.)
c.1400, "roll of parchment or paper," altered (by association with rolle "roll") from scrowe (early 13c.), from Anglo-Fr. escrowe, O.Fr. escroe "scrap, roll of parchment," from Frank. *skroda "shred" (cf. M.Du. schroode "shred," O.H.G. scrot "piece cut off," Ger. Schrot "log, block, small shot"), from P.Gmc. *skrautha "something cut." The verb meaning "to write down in a scroll" is recorded from c.1600; sense of "show a few lines at a time" (on a computer or TV screen) first recorded 1981. Related: Scrolled; scrolling.

megillah
"long, tedious, complicated story," 1957, from Yiddish (e.g. a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), lit. "roll, scroll," name of the five O.T. books appointed to be read on certain feast days. The slang use is in ref. to the length of the text.

fiddlehead
"one with a head as hollow as a fiddle," 1854 (fiddleheaded), from fiddle + head. As a name for young fern fronds, from 1882, from resemblance to a violin’s scroll.

escrow
1590s, from Anglo-Fr. escrowe, from O.Fr. escroue "scrap, roll of parchment," from a Germanic source akin to O.H.G. scrot "scrap, shred" (see scroll (n.)). Originally "a deed delivered to a third person until a future condition is satisfied;" sense of "deposit held in trust or security" is from 1888.

nave (2)
"hub of a wheel," O.E. nafu, from P.Gmc. *nabo-, perhaps connected with the root of navel (q.v.) on notion of centrality (cf. L. umbilicus "navel," also "the end of a roller of a scroll," Gk. omphalos "navel," also "the boss of a shield").

volute
1690s, "spiral ornament on an Ionic capital," from Fr. volute, from It. voluta, from L. voluta "a spiral scroll," originally fem. pp. of volvere "to turn around, roll" (see vulva). Extended 1756 to any spiral thing or part. As a type of spiral seashell, it is attested from 1753.

page (1)
"sheet of paper," 1580s (earlier pagne, 12c., directly from O.Fr.), from M.Fr. page, from O.Fr. pagine, from L. pagina "page, strip of papyrus fastened to others," related to pagella "small page," from pangere "to fasten," from PIE base *pag- "to fix" (see pact). Usually said to be from the notion of individual sheets of paper "fastened" into a book. Ayto offers an alternative theory: vines fastened by stakes and formed into a trellis, which led to sense of "columns of writing on a scroll." When books replaced scrolls, the word continued to be used. Page-turner "book that one can't put down" is from 1974.

Bible
early 14c., from Anglo-L. biblia, from M.L./L.L. biblia (neuter plural interpreted as fem. singular), in phrase biblia sacra "holy books," a translation of Gk. ta biblia to hagia "the holy books," from Gk. biblion "paper, scroll," the ordinary word for "book," originally a dim. of byblos "Egyptian papyrus," possibly so called from Byblos (modern Jebeil, Lebanon), the name of the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece (cf. parchment). Or the place name might be from the Gk. word, which would then probably be of Egyptian origin. The Christian scripture was refered to in Gk. as Ta Biblia as early as c.223. Bible replaced O.E. biblio├░ece (see bibliothek) as the ordinary word for "the Scriptures." Figurative sense of "any authoritative book" is from 1804.



For SKULL, I found this piquant and useful medical etymology:
SKULL id+ | CUP LIKE
HARD BONY CONTAINER or
SHIELD or CASE | or
old ger SCALA = SCALE SEA SHELL
old Bulgarian SKOLIKA MUSSELL
gr SKALLEIN TO DIG and leads to
old Saxon SCILD SHIELD
old Norse SKEL SCALE LIKE
gr ENCEPHALON or CEPHALIC BODY END
hx> SKOAL or to TOAST BY
DRINKING from a
SKULL
med> biol> CRANIUM or CALVARIUM or
MEMBRANOUS BONES covering
see> SKELETON OSTEOLOGY BONE

SHAWL is the least interesting. The online etymologies only take it back to a place-name in India; I'm a bit surprised by the lack of curiosity displayed by these etymologists. What does the place-name mean???:

shawl
1662, originally of a type of scarf worn in Asia, from Urdu and other Indian languages, from Pers. shal, sometimes said to be named for Shaliat, town in India where it was first manufactured. Cf. Fr. châle, Sp. chal, It. scialle, Ger. Shawl (from Eng.), Rus. shal, all ult. from the same source. As the name of an article of clothing worn by Western women, it is recorded from 1767.

A short google-search for Shaliat + India simply revealed more of the same brief etymology, but also this charming response to a question about the word "shawl" being of Asian origin:

"Most thing orininate from Asia. Like Cuntney, Jungle, Bungalow,. Shawl is condense from the town it originated sometimes said to be named after Shaliat, town in Indiawhere it was first manufactured sometimes said to be named after Shaliat, town in Indiawhere it was first manufactured in India Shaliat"

But on a hunch, I hit paydirt with scrotum; it's related to shroud, which must absolutely be related to shred and hence scroll:

scrotum
1590s, from L. scrotum, cognate with O.E. scrud "garment" (source of shroud).
"Isn't the sea what Algy calls it: a grey sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotum-tightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton." [Joyce, "Ulysses"]

2 comments:

  1. skaal--> bowl
    skol/skoal--> when drinking a toast.... from the skull of your enemies (ha ha, fake etymologies!)

    nabo means turnip in Spanish, but also the root of the tail.

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  2. Hi J, that skull skoal thing is not a fake etymology, it's real.
    Nabo means neighbor in Scandinavian languages...

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