Lo que el viento se llevó

While Spanish anémona, anemona, and anemone, along with English anemone and windflower, refer to a certain genus of plants, the anémona de mar/sea anemone crosses not just the waterline but also what biologists might call the kingdom line. Sea anemones spend their lives anchored to undersea rocks, resemble flowers, and even move back and forth like plants blowing in a watery wind, yet zoologists consider these creatures animals.

And so the etymological circle closes, because animal, a word that Spanish and English share, goes back to Latin animalis ‘a living being,’ which was based on anima ‘the breath of life.’ (Whether what we now call an animal has an ánima or alma or  soul—that is the province of metaphysics rather than physics, and certainly not etymology.) From Latin anima we also have the verb animar/animate ‘to breathe life into, to give life to,’ with corresponding noun animación/animation. Japanese has borrowed the English version to describe ‘a type of cartoon,’ but as the word is rather long, the Japanese often shorten it to animé, which English has borrowed back and now usually writes with a French-style accent to show that the third syllable is pronounced like may.

For those English speakers who may not recognize the title of today’s entry, Lo que el viento se llevó is the standard Spanish translation of Gone with the Wind. That title is my way of saying that today’s entry is the last in a four-part series on words derived from the Indo-European root that meant ‘breathe.’

©2010 Steven Schwartzman


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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
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