It’s an understatement to say that I love words and their histories. Although this series deals with Spanish and English, I’ve chosen to write in English, which is my native language, the one in which I express myself the best. In high school and college I studied Latin and several foreign languages. Upon graduation I joined the Peace Corps and had my first regular training in Spanish, after which I spent two years teaching math in Spanish in Honduras. Later I took a number (but not a sinnúmero) of linguistics courses, and since then I’ve done a lot of reading about etymology, the origins of words.
For those for whom credentials are important: I have a B.A. in French, magna cum laude, from Columbia University, and an M.A. (actually A.B.D.) in Romance linguistics from the University of Texas with a 4.0 GPA. I’m the author of The Words of Mathematics, published by the Mathematical Association of America in 1994 and still in print.
Another passion of mine is photography, particularly of the native plants in central Texas, the region where I live. If you look through enough of the postings in this blog, you’ll see that I’ve taken the liberty of sneaking in a picture every now and then when it relates to a word under discussion. (Nine months after beginning this blog I compounded my folly by starting one called Portraits of Wildflowers, which overtly serves as an outlet for my photographs of nature; there the photographs have primacy and the words are subservient to them.)
Who am I? My name is Steve Schwartzman, and in keeping with a blog about the histories of words, I feel obligated to add that Steven comes from a Greek word meaning ‘crown of laurel,’ and Schwartzman is German for ‘black man, dark man’—compare the related native English swarthy.