I just found this on a memory stick from 2007.
It kinda still feels relevant.
I’m Sure Someone will Correct me on the Early English bit…
I was thinking about the word abyss the other day. Something about the shape of the word – something about its meaning.
I wondered if it was the root of abysmal and figured that it probably was.
In all honesty, abysmal was where I stared. I only just thought that abyss would make a better beginning.
So it turns out that the word abyss goes from this screen back to 14th century English. From there it heads back to Latin, then to Greek, ultimately finding its origin in Sumerian.
I guess the overlap of English and Latin in the 14th century would make the English early and the Latin late.
The Sumerian word Abzu seems to be at the root of it all. A lot of people in that area, where the Tigress and Euphrates meet, a long time ago – about 7000 years or so – believed that all water came from a big sea inside the earth. It was the source of all rivers and wells and stuff like that.
It seems to me that abyss means more than that now. More than a really deep well or an ocean beneath our feet.
It implies an emptiness, a chasm of depth immeasurable.
Or a catastrophic situation.
Or something intractable.
It shouldn’t have surprised me to look at a map to see where this word came from and find, at the confluence of the Tigress and Euphrates, the nation of Iraq.
It made me smirk a smirk worthy of an evil vice president to begin with “abyss”, or rather, “abysmal” and end up in Iraq.
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