How lightly and glibly we let the words roll off our tongues. Mindlessly we speak and write, clothed invisibly in miracles.
Language, that refined descendant of the caveman’s grunts and groans, is the most elegant of tools. And how marvellous that we are able to turn it on itself, an ouroboros, the mythical serpent biting its own tail. Using language to talk about language to talk about talking about language. Etcetera ad infinitum.
July’s blue moon ends the month pointedly. Full stop. And finds me reading a collection even more entertaining than a dictionary, an etymological Smarties box of words and their origins (Word Origins by John Ayto, 2005).
Blue dips its roots in a drop of yellow, from Indo-European *bhlewos, then swirls through a white shade of pale (Greek phalós) to the bruised and livid blá of Old Norse. It raises a brief English head, then disappears, to find its blue again from French bleu. Quite a rainbowy show for a bit of true blue.
A month is a measure of moons from the rootstock *menes- (Indo-European) and two full moons in a month make it a (bruised) blue.
So language comes loping slow from the tongue like a wolf at midnight blinking at the moon.