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Prettymology

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Spurious or false etymology is sometimes known as "folk etymology" (which actually has a different meaning in linguistics) or Sunday etymology. Germans have a lovely term: "Kling-Klang-Etymologie" to indicate pseudo derivations such as Gott (God) deriving from gut (good) due to similar sounds. There ought to be a term "urban etymology" (well, now there is) to describe similar hopefuls. I want to propose the term "prettymology" for explanations that are either "urban etymologies" or legitimate but "nice" and appealing too. An example follows:

Liverpool is said to give senior citizens free bus passes which become valid from 9 am. One subset of the beneficiaries regularly attempt to stretch the envelope by arriving a bit too early with a combination of shopping basket, optimism, a fairly good understanding of human nature, and a nice smile, asking "Are we too early?", earning them the bus crew's nickname of "Twirlies"!

(For non-native English speakers: 'to early" sounds like "twirly", and "twirl" also means "spin" a verb often used in the expression "to take something (often a car) for a spin", the pun being that wheels must spin for a car to move, and a twirl is (thus) often considered as a simple, but enjoyable ride.)

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Guest Tuesday, 26 March 2019
You are here: Home Frogologoblog Simon Prettymology