Following up on yesterday’s discussion, we note that Latin scire ‘to know’ developed from the Indo-European root *skei- ‘to cut.’ The metaphor was that knowing is ‘a cutting through things with the mind,’ just as we can still speak of a person with a sharp mind. A Greek descendant of the Indo-European root was skhizein ‘to split,’ from which we have cisma/schism ‘a division between opposing parties.’ (And English speakers are split over how to pronounce schism: some say skizm and others sizm). Since the early 20th century a person with a ‘split’ or ‘divided’ mind may be said to suffer from esquizofrenia/schizophrenia. The Spanish version looks like it started out to be the word esquí ‘ski’ but went off course and kept going for a while before putting on the frenos. Levity aside, the resemblance to esquí isn’t just a coincidence. The Old Norse word from which we’ve borrowed esquí/ski is in fact a relative, because people originally made skis from split-off pieces of wood.

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: après-ski « Spanish-English Word Connections

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
%d bloggers like this: