Friday, October 23, 2020



Walter Savage Landor, "Second Conversation" between Samuel Johnson and John Horne Tooke, Imaginary Conversations, Vol. III (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1909), pp. 400-451 (at 422-423, Tooke speaking):
I am a bad man, but exactly in the contrary of the word's original meaning, which I thank you for reminding me of. A bad man is a bade man, or bidden man; a slave in other words: and the same idea was attached to the expression by the Italians and the French (while their language and they had a character) in cattivo and chétif, and by us in caitiff, men in no other condition than that wherein they must do as they are bid. We should ourselves have been in no higher condition, if we had not resisted what, in palaces and churches and colleges, was called legitimate power; and indeed we should still be, rather than men, a pliant unsubstantial herbage, springing up from under the smoky, verminous, unconcocted doctrine of passive obedience, to be carted off by our kings amid their carols, and cocked and ricked and cut, and half-devoured, half-trampled, and wasted, in the pinfold of our priesthood.
On the uncertain etymology of bad see the following articles by Anatoly Liberman: Cf. Greek κακός — "Comme pour beaucoup de mots signifiant «mal», pas d'étymologie établie" (Pierre Chantraine), "No clear etymology" (Robert Beekes).

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?