Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Word Wednesday - Rock

Oh Dear... I chose this weeks word and yet I haven't thought about it at all. It fits nicely with the first element of Project Spectrum: Earth.

Rock conjures up two images for me. The first is obvious, for everyone thinks of the rocks beneath their feet. I intend to write a fair bit about the rocks of this beautiful part of the world in which I live. I want to write much, much more about Cornwall.

The second is less obvious and the image is of a hand rocking a cradle. I find it surprising that one word represents the most solid thing beneath our feet but also movement. Why are these two meanings linked in the same word? How bizarre!

Maybe they were reminding themselves of how the ground can be unsteady. Maybe they could feel the motion of the planet rocking gently (or actually rather quickly) as it moves around the sun. Maybe the slow steady movement of Earth, closer then further from the Sun, which alters the seasons is what they linked: the slow steady beat of the heart of our home.

Looking at an etymological dictionary online it seems that rock may well be a celtic word in origin coming from the word roch. It tended to refer to larger rock formations rather than individual pieces of rock. This is why it is seen as being a firm word as it is linked to solid foundations.

It seems the movement, to rock, comes from the Swedish word rycka which meant to pull or pluck. It seems it is not a word that started as a slow steady movement, but as a jerky sort of a movement. Maybe the influence of the rocky stone aspect of the word has influenced the type of movement with which it is also associated.

Rock has also given it's name to a type of music which is more fully known as rock 'n' roll. It seems that the roots of this phrase are a little different from the ones I imagined. Apparently it originally referred to a very specific type of movement...

Language is a thing that evolves and this word is no different. I suspect the two words originally sounded very different but as their pronounciation grew closer, their meanings started to be more closely linked. What do you think?

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