Sunday Lunch: Etymology Already, Now Onomatopoeia

Isn’t all war ultimately about onomatopoeia? Think about it: the rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns, the hiss of spitfires overhead, and the drone of bombing in the background. I imagine the word ‘onomatopoeia’ itself came from the trenches of WWI when a Brit and a Yank with a southern accent (OK, not so Yank, maybe Johnny Reb) passed each other in the rat-maze one too may times and the rap went something like this:

REB: I might pee right here if the Germans don’t hold their fire soon (but what the Brit heard was more like “onomatopeia rot heah,” etc…)

BRIT: You’re pissed. I told you not to drink that rotgut swill. This is a bloody trench! There’s no latrine…

REB: It’s bloody, all right, but I don’t need no Catholic rites yet. And I ain’t pissed, either, ain’t got no reason to be. I jus’ need to TAKE a piss, and I aim to do it right here, if I cain’t find no better place…

BRIT: I hope you aim that thing better than you aim your gun… and better than you speak English..

And then I woke up. It was all just a bad dream, two native English-speakers lost in translation. I must’ve ety-lotta-mology and gotten sick, had a nightmare. But that’s about how English works, isn’t it? I concede defeat on the battle fields of orthography. I’ve fought enough already, with the ploughboys in the roughest slough, and coughing up dough in the toughest boroughs, all for nought..

It’s fun to dream up weird wacko word origins, though. After all, without a true linguistic genome project, we can just make up anything we want, right?

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