finisecular

Far be it from me to have put an end yet to words related to Spanish fin. One relative that I recently came across for the first time is finisecular. This adjective means ‘pertaining to the end of a given century.’ The word’s first component is clearly fin ‘end,’ and the second comes from Latin saeculum or seculum, which meant at its most literal ‘a race, breed, generation,’ and by extension ‘a lifetime, an age.’ (If you look under the pyramid on the back of a U.S. $1 bill, you’ll see a form of the word in the phrase NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM ‘a new order for the ages.’) In particular, Latin saeculum came to designate ‘a century,’ which is the meaning of its Spanish descendant siglo.

Finisecular is as rarefied a word as Spanish fin and English finish (borrowed from Old French) are common. As an example of usage, take the title of an article in the online Mexican journal La Jornada: “La crónica de la ciudad finisecular.” Although English dictionaries don’t include finisecular, some scholars have carried the word over into English. For example, I found an essay with the catchy title “The Mad Doctors: Medicine and Literature in Finisecular Spain.”

Let me finish up with a funny example of something I’ve pointed out several times in this column: as wonderful as the Internet is, some of its algorithms are crude and blundering mechanisms devoid of common sense (if an algorithm can be said to have any sense). In searching for examples of finisecular, I hit upon the site reverso.com that offers, among other things, full conjugations of Spanish verbs. Because finisecular ends in -ar, this site dutifully conjugated what it took to be the “verb” finisecular. On that page, in all its glory, you’ll be gratified to see, for example, that the first person plural future perfect of this “verb” is nosotros habremos finiseculado, which I’ll dutifully translate as ‘we will have end-of-centuried.’

FINIS

(That is not a typo for finish, but rather the Latin ancestor of Spanish fin. Makers of books and even movies have traditionally put Latin FINIS at the end of a work to confirm that you’ve really gotten to the end.)

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bermudaonion
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 21:35:55

    I know I’ve run across that word before, but can’t remember when. What an informative post!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: secular « Spanish-English Word Connections
  3. Trackback: finde y duende « Spanish-English Word Connections

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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