Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back in England

So much has happened since I last blogged. Actually that's a lie, but let's pretend my life's interesting for the moment. Shortly after my last update, I was so bored I decided to go to the cinema to watch Slumdog Millionaire. It was really good, despite being dubbed into French. The film has however had mixed reviews. Although in some ways trying to present itself as an accurate portrayal of Mumbai slums, I don't think Slumdog Millionaire should be seen as much more than a fantasy film set in Mumbai. And then all the problems with its accuracy just disappear! And let's face it, in the words of Lisa Simpson, films don't have to be one hundred percent accurate one hundred percent of the time. One the other hand, we shouldn't dismiss the manifold social problems in India, such as poverty, class, religious and racial violence, and so on.

The next day, I arrived in Angleterre. Since being back, I haven't done too much: I've visited relatives, seen friends, done some clothes shopping. Thomas's girlfriend visited for several days (having left about half an hour ago), and this was the first time I've properly met her. I apparently met her once before she and my brother were going out (I hate that expression), but I'll be damned if I can remember.

Enigmatic etymology
Since I like words, I think I'll add an 'enigmatic etymology' to the odd entry, following my post from eons back of the same name. Today's word is: cretin. The word means:
  1. a person suffering from cretinism.
  2. a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person. (dictionary.com)

Although the etymology is somewhat disputed, the most commonly accepted theory, is that, deriving from French, the word ultimately has the same origins as the English word 'Christian'. Does this mean that all Christians are cretins (or vice versa)? Well, not really. The word 'christian' gained the meaning of 'cretin' via the following route. In Franco-Proven├žal, a language spoken in the south of France and northern Italy, the word creitin/crestin (Christian) gained the more general meaning of 'person', since everyone in the area was a Christian. In a similar vein, to ask someone in Greece if they're Greek, you can ask if they're Orthodox. The form creitin then began to be applied to people with mental handicaps (apparently cretinism was common in the south of France), to highlight their humanity despite their disability. It then became adopted in standard French to refer to someone suffering from cretinism, a condition of stunted physical and mental growth due to a lack of thyroid hormones as a foetus, or a lack of intake of iodine. After this, cretin became a term to describe a stupid person, but has now become one of the several words associated with deformities (spastic, idiot, dumb) to have become politically incorrect to use.

No comments:

Post a Comment