Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Anatoly Liberman, "The word 'job' and its low-class kin," The Oxford Etymologist (December 13, 2017):
Alongside the noun job "a piece of work," the verb job "to strike, peck" existed. Lexicographers are not sure whether the two words are connected, but it is reasonable to assume that they are. The verb seems to be primary: you peck, peck, peck, and "a piece of work" is done.
How appropriate, because many jobs today consist of little more than "peck, peck, peck" at a computer keyboard. I often wonder what an ancient Greek, transported through time, would think of us, cooped up indoors as we are much of the time, hunched over a computer keyboard or staring slack-jawed at a television screen or tapping away at our phones. I suspect he would laugh at our pale, puffy bodies, never exposed to wind or sun, and would regard us as useless and pathetic specimens of humanity.

Hat tip: Jim K.

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