Monday, February 25, 2008

Ensemble. Assemble. Simple!

Driving down to the wake I saw the word ensemble on a sign in Norwell. Huh - it must be related to assemble...semblance...resemble. What's that "semb" root mean? Together? Meaning? Seem...similar? Hey, those might be from the same root. So might same. Huh. Dissemble...semiotic...simultaneous... Maybe "sem" and "semb" are actually different roots.

And then my usual quote: I'll have to check my OED when I get home. Ah, how I love being able to say that! There is a security in certain reference books that quiets my heart.

But of course once started, I went to my Watkins, my dictionary of Indo-European roots and found that this particular root is completely out of control. It's everywhere. The root is *sem, = "one, together." Thus Greek roots hem, he, homo, homeo. Hamadryad. Homily. Hekaton. Homeopathic. Also half, haploid, hemi, meaning "one of two." Latin roots sin, simul, sem leading to single, singular, assembly, semper fi. Russian sam meaning "self," leading to samovar, samizdata. Plus Sanskrit and Iranian words I didn't recognize.

Seem. Seemly. The suffix -some. Some. Assimilate.
Simple.

1 comment:

TomG said...

Interesting, I was just in the site

http://samizdata.net/blog/

and they define write of their name "Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR
[Russ.,= self-publishing house]"

So it makes sense, thanks!