Hello again my fair followers, my cute consumers of creative calligraphy; you gluttons for punishment! Nah, not that last one, well maybe, just a little. *gives devilish grin.
So you’ve been coming here for a while now and know that I write; books as well as this blog (some poetry too, but the less said about that the better), and I have covered word origins on a couple of occasions, but then I thought – what about the word ‘word’? I know! You did too didn’t you?! How bizarre that we write and speak these words, but have ever wondered, ‘where did the word ‘word’ come from Alex?’
I’m glad you asked, I did the work for you…
Is a unit of speech and writing, a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed; as in “I don’t like the word ‘anti-climax’ .”
It can also be a command, password, or signal, for example, “Smithers gave me the word to start shooting.”
As a verb it expresses something in particular words. “She words her request in a particularly ironic manner.”
And then there is the fairly current usage that expresses agreement or affirmation. “Word, that’s a good record, man.”
Etymology of the word ‘word’
It is Old English; c. 1200, meaning “to utter” of Germanic origin; related to Dutch Woord and German Wort. Originally from the proto-indo-european root Were, which means to speak or say. Makes me wonder what people said before word was part of the language when they needed to have it out with someone – “Oi! I want to speak to you!” doesn’t feel as hard-hitting as “Oi! A word!”
Then it snuck into our language and we thought no more about it, it became a thing in and of itself without us paying much attention, it appended itself to other words to create new words.
‘Word’ and ‘Word Up’
Now I thought this had fallen out of use, what a fool. Certain groups of young people and even older generations who may have spun around too much on their heads as teens, or really cool black dudes still use this. For those not in the know, it means – “I comprehend what you are saying and verify that your statement is true, my good brother.” Both are generally used to mean “I agree.” The terms are from late 1980’s hip-hop slang. Some say popular usage probably originated with the single Word Up! by Cameo. It is definitely of African American tradition; particularly it’s oral tradition and may be rooted in a belief in the power of the Word. The African concept of Nommo, the Word, is believed to be the force of life itself. To speak is to make something come into being.
Was a 1990’s Channel 4 television programme in the United Kingdom. Its presenters included Mancunian radio presenter Terry Christian, comedian Mark Lamarr, Dani Behr, and Katie Puckrik. Originally it was broadcast at 6pm Friday evenings; The Word’s main live show was shifted to a late-night time-slot from 9 November 1990. The magazine format allowed for interviews, live music, features and even game shows. The flexible late-night format meant that guests could do just about anything to be controversial. ‘Language’ was never bleeped out, as far as I can remember, and there was some choice language at times. There was also an ‘I’ll do anything to be on television’ section called “The Hopefuls” in which people ate worms, bathed in maggots, licked sweat off fat people, intimately kissed old people, and did generally repulsive things in order to get featured on the programme. It was repulsive and horribly fascinating at the same time.
The Word (2)
Britain’s first democratic socialist tabloid newspaper. Begun online in 2015, it is a socialist hub with the involvement of as many people as possible from the socialist movement in Britain. The politics, they say, are broadly in line with those of Jeremy Corbyn and believe in justice, equality, truth, courage and that only by sharing as fairly as possible the resources of this planet will we be able to live in harmony with each other.
A free software that can be used to create a website or blog. It originated in 2003 simply as code that enhanced typography and has evolved into the largest self-hosted blogging platform in the world.
Is a graphical word processing program that users can type with. It is made by the computer company Microsoft. Its purpose is to allow users to type and save documents. Similar to other word processors, it has helpful tools to make documents. The first version of Microsoft Word was developed by Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, former Xerox programmers hired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1981. Both programmers worked on Xerox Bravo, the first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor.
‘What’s The Word?’
This is another phrase with its roots in black culture. Depending on your situation, it could mean a number of things. It can mean – “How are you?” or “What are we doing tonight my good chap?” or “What’s the news?” (about specific or non-specific topic) .
Singer/song-writer, Gil Scott-Heron used the phrase in his 1976 song ‘Johannesburg’; a protest song about South Africa’s apartheid system, and when Scott-Heron asked, “What’s the word? / Tell me brother, have you heard from Johannesburg?” he was begging for an update on what was going on. Remember young ‘uns, this was before the internet! Yes, there was life before Twitter and Facebook. “We don’t know for sure, because the news we get is unreliable, man,” Scott-Heron continues in the song. ‘The Word’ in this instance is of vital importance.
And finally, with no need for explanation is…drum roll…..
The Word of God
pretty powerful for text with only 4 letters!!
Thanks for visiting folks, I hope this post was interesting, or at least informative – remember – spread the word!!
‘Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture’, by H. Samy Alim, 2006