Friday, September 17, 2010

to dote and dither- a meditation on the words.

We live in a language suspicious of fond doting.  To dote and dither -

words that branch from the same word -
DODDER - "To shake."  
Like a dotard, grey-bearded and drooling in the soup. 
Or a vine, rattled by the wind. 
Words that trace themselves back
 to the Proto-Indo-European root
*dud- "To shake, deceive,"
by way of Middle English doten, "to be foolish."

Fond too comes from fool
so that a fond fool is among other things, redundant.
Fool from the old Proto-Indo-European root
 *bhel-(2) "To blow, swell," 

a first cousin to
*bhel-(1) "To shine, flash, burn"
giving us words like FLAME, FLAGRANT,
FULMINATE, FLAMBOYANT
as well as BLUSH,  BLIND, BLOND, BLANK
showing the roots of all those blonde jokes

cousin to *bhel-(3) "To thrive, bloom"
giving us FOLIAGE, PHYLLO, EXFOLIATE,
as well as  FLOWER, FLOURISH, FLORID, EFFLORESCE,
BLOSSOM, PORTFOLIO, DEFLOWER
that tired old melodrama of greed, lust, corruption

cousin to*bhel-(4) "To cry out, yell"
as in BELL, BELLOW, BAWL

But *bhel-(2) "To blow, swell,"
gives us all those round, tumescent words
like BALL, BOWL, BOLL, BOLE,
like BULL, BOLLIX, BALLOT, BELLOWS,
a short history of politics in itself, 
not to mention BALLOON, nor BAWD, BOLD,
innocent FOLLICLE,  PHALLUS, simple FOOL . . .

And we begin to understand the reason for the distrust of fondness, of doting.  


Fools follow their fondness, 
doting on those bad apples we (perhaps he)
would never have et
if we (he) had not been so shaken,
inflamed by the efflorescing flourish
of the flamboyant bowled blossom of a hand (her hand)
offering that boldly rounded and flordily deceptive fruit,
her other hand still curving around the smooth-barked bole
still shaking with the knowledge of difference and desire.

Doting, asserts the language we live in - 
by way of Old English, old Germanic,
chiming together with the received
wisdom of its brother-tongues
in Celtic, Tocharian, Balto-Slavic, Italic, Indic, and Old Persian -
like a great bell, or better a whole bell tower,
agreeing on the hour, every hour, 
that doting puts men at the mercy
of powers almost outside themselves,
the inconvenient unwilled acknowledging nod
to powers blooming, loud, and flagrant.

So that standing in the latter-end of history, at the full flowering of this living tongue we speak and think and dream in, as a simple woman - a word - like womb - with no entry in my Dictionary of Indo-European Roots - standing here I hold these words inside me and wonder. 

To be simple is also to be a fool, a silly fool. 
But silly comes from Old English sǣlig "happy,"
from sǣl  "happiness,"
from Gothic sēls  "good,"
from Proto-Indo-European *sel- which is also "good,"
giving us Greek hilaros "cheerful"
and Latin solari "to comfort" and salvus "whole, safe."


Haven't we come too long a way, baby,
from silly's original "happy" and "blessed,"

to "pious," to "innocent," 
to "harmless," to "pitiable," 


to "weak,"  to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason,"
to end at simple fond and doting "foolish"?


Don't we live in a language that mistrusts happiness?

4 comments:

suzanne said...

-What do you read, my lord?
-Words, words, words.
-What is the matter, my lord?
-Between who?
-I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
-Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled...and that they have a plentiful lack of wit...all of which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.

ArtSparker said...

I think efflorescence or entropy...depends on the weather and mood - because we are temporary roots also.

John Romeo Alpha said...

dote, dotage: a fuzzy line to dance on, alone, or with a fool in the mirror.

moria said...

Oh, how I (belatedly) love this.

Do you know that I am obsessed with sillysely, seeley, saelig? Here.

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