So, lately I’ve become interested in three iterations of a word (one of them being a slight variation):
Colon: a punctuation mark
Colon: part of your large intestine
Colonist/Colony: member of a colonizing expedition (i.e. imperialist, but I digress…)
It happens that they are not etymologically connected. Now, brief context: I was thisclose to switching major to Linguistics in college, and my parents both did variations of Linguistics in their college years. So, word-fascination is baked deeply into me.
Number 1 comes from Latin ‘colon’ which means part of a poem, which comes from Greek kolon (with a long -o-…this matters), part of a verse, also literally ‘limb, member’ (human limb, tree limb, doesn’t matter), which finally goes back to the root skel, which means ‘bent, crooked’. That’s fascinating enough, right?
Well, let’s jump to 3 before we get to 2. Colony and all its variations and derivations ultimately goes back to the root kwel- which means ‘revolve, move round; sojourn, dwell’. I’ll skip the intermediates of that, because it’s what you’d imagine: all variations of farming, inhabiting, etc.
Number 2? No-one knows. They know it goes back to another Greek word Kolon, with a short initial -o-.
Yeah, I think that’s a cute coincidence too, but so far it sounds like Linguists everywhere, the world over, have not yet investigated the etymological history of the poop pipe. Imagine that.
So that’s my prompt for you, dear reader. Think about that. About how the word for a part of language, an imperialist adventurer, and a poop pipe, are essentially the same word. Think about how they each came to be. Sit with it, for a bit, maybe put it in the context of current events, and riff on it.
This more than any past prompts I would love to see the results of. And if you ever come up with a prompt or want to see something on this site that isn’t yet, or want to contribute, drop us a line on our Contact page or to firstname.lastname@example.org.