Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Video question

Dear Word Spy,

Why does everyone still use the word "video"? I mean like in video games, video news, video camera, when everyone knows that video cassettes are SO yesterday.

From Pell

Dear Pell,

Ah! I know what you mean in a way, but let's look at that word, video. It comes from a Latin word which means "I see". Latin is the language people used to speak in ancient Rome (when they definitely didn't have any videos!)

Anyway, as it means "I see", really, you can use it to mean anything that we see, including games.

While we're on the subject, the word audio also comes from Latin - it means "
I hear". We tend to use it for anything recorded that we hear.

Following that logic, we should call
books and newspapers lego, which means "I read."

Hmm, but we might get confused with all those little plastic bricks. You know, the world-famous toy that was invented in Denmark. That Lego comes from two Danish words joined together - leg meaning "to play", and godt meaning "well".

Words squashed together like that are called portmanteau words. Like breakfast and lunch to make brunch. You can probably think of some others. Or if you can't just make one up! Here's one I made up, a brand new fruit called granana - a mixture of grape and
banana. Yum!

(Sorry to have got rather off the topic.)

Audio, video, lego,
The Word Spy.

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