April 21st, 2013 - Torgo χ

2013-04-21 (Sunday)

Dear Log,

As I was browsing Wikipedia BUT IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE OF GERMANITY, I noticed that German seems to have a native and monomorphemic word for radio: Funk(e).

This aufbepuzzled me.

(Example use: Rund­funk­empfangs­gerät, an expansive term used as a headword for sake of clarity: broadcast-radio-receiving-device. Cf. English headword: "radio (receiver)").

I looked into it. It's a word for "spark". (Given that radio started out using spark-gaps to make the signals, that makes good sense.)

Apparently "funk(e)" can be traced back to a form back in Western Germanic, which gave "Funk(e)" in German— and "funk" in Old English, meaning a spark, or a small fire.

It acquired the meaning of smoldering, such as you get from a small fire. It then lost its initial sense, and all you've got is two attributes of smoldering: and strong smell, and also smokey cloud (which I think survives only via metaphor in the idiom "in a funk").

How this meaning at point a ends up at the point b, "funk music", is left to the semantic workings of the hyperspace jumpgates of African American English.

Current Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Current Mood: zappy
Current Music: "Tobias" - Arrested Development soundtrack


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