Laughter and Language

4 min readMay 31, 2017

I’ve been having a blast with language recently, and I figured I’d share some of things I’ve learned that I’ve found particularly interesting.



I was thinking about Decartes’ phrase, “I think, therefore I am” (Cogito Ergo Sum). He later explains, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt….”. Another philosopher expanded the original sentiment to read, “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”.

Remembering this, I looked up the etymology of doubt. Etymonline says, ‘…from duo “two” (from PIE root *dwo- “two”), with a sense of “of two minds, undecided between two things.”…’. Interesting.



I read H is for Hawk recently and the following line stuck with me: “The cure for loneliness is solitude”. Solitude iirc is loneliness in French, so its a bit of a non-saying like, “It is what it is” or “Whatever happens, happens”. Is there a word for these repetitive statements?

Anyways, it got me thinking about the term Alone; I broke it into it’s syllables, al-one, and then read it as “all one”. I looked it up on and found out that I had nailed it!

A few days later, at a meditation spot in my neighborhood, the teacher was speaking about despair. He said, “It’s in moments of despair that we feel most alone”. Interesting, when layered with the meaning above.


Though commonly thought to be derived from the Greek eu- meaning “good”- and topos- meaning “place”, says that the root of the “U” is actually from the Greek ou- meaning “not”. So utopia is the Not Place.



According to Google, this word is a combination of the Latin de: down, or away from and libra: scales, weight. So to deliberate is to weigh down. I laughed because I read it as de: down, or away from and liber: freedom.



I’ve been saying “Rad!” for years it seems. Today I saw the word used pejoratively in this short comic (worth reading). Seeing the contradiction I jumped to learn it’s roots, and discovered that it literally meant, “of or having roots” 😂.

In the 1650’s, it evolved to mean, “going to the origin, essential”. Three decades later, the radical, or the root sign (√) appeared in mathematical texts. I laughed at how much the sign, when lacking its topmost horizontal bar, resembled a check mark. Though riddled with doubt, the history of the check mark might come from shortening the word vertitas: truth.


To come to terms

By Webster’s, it means “To come to accept; become reconciled to; To reach mutual agreement”. But I considered the words in part and laughed because it seems to literally mean, “to arrive at a language.”



Last night, one of the hostel guests said, “Nothing matters!”. I decided to check out its etymology and it’s a doozy. It’s origin is mater “origin, source, mother”. Later it evolved to the Latin materia “substance from which something is made”. Then later, c. 1200, materie, “subject of thought, speech, or expression”.


“Life is a playground if you make it one. You just have to take advantage of it”. My sister Maria said this. I looked up the etymology of advantage and found it’s the “position of being in advance of another”. I’m working on Maria’s advice to take advantage and make life my playground ☺️.


Christian yelled down from the loft- “Did you know the end of a bannister is called a Finial??”. I didn’t and so I looked up the etymology: Ornament at the top of a spire, gable, etc.,” mid-15c., from fyniall “putting an end to, binding” (early 15c.), a variant of final.



I was making some updates to and Mom said that I was keeping it current. I laughed when I thought of the word when used describing water in a [river]( Always changing, but always now.


Originating from the Latin Persona: a mask or false face. Later, A part in a drama, an assumed character. Give’s new meaning to the phrase “Life’s a joke- don’t take it personally.”


An old friend asked me what the hostel has been like. I said that it’s been so enriching to be able to interact with people from all over with such varied lives. And despite the endless variation, I’ve come to feel deeply that, “we have in in common than in…” I struggled to find a word. Then said the first that came to mind, “…difference”

Indifference: lack of interest, concern, or sympathy.

When you self identify, you become disconnected, different from the underlying completeness of everything. From <a href=”">Corinthians</a>, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” It’s a state in difference from the completeness. Indifference. Too funny.