Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bondage for Husbands…



We’re here on a Saturday. A Saturday! So you know this would have to be important, otherwise, we’d still be lounging in bed, with mimosas (the drinks, not the plants) and smiling coyly at our men, who are bound to the bedframes…

No, wait! I’m not supposed to be writing about bondage play for wayward spouses, I’m supposed to be introducing Murray Suid, who is ready to teach us all about what the words “bondage” and “husband” have in common, as well as a few other sexy word sets.

Murray Suid is the author of more than two dozen books. A former instructor at San Jose State University, he is a screenwriter and lives in Northern California. (If you think that California relates to fornicate, you likely will enjoy reading Words of a Feather. The same is true for those who are absolutely certain that California has nothing to do with illicit behavior whatsoever.)

Without further ado, here is Murray!

****

In the next few minutes, I’ll try to demonstrate that etymology can be fun, provocative, and even sexy.

WORDS OF A FEATHER focuses on 150 word pairs that at first seem unrelated but yet share common origins. I wrote the book partly because of a long-standing interest in etymology (hey, we all have our hang-ups) and also because a friend’s agent had heard that a big publisher was hot to find a witty book on words. The agent persuaded me that we’d sell enough copies to fund my feature film project—THE ESP AFFAIR. That seemed like a stupendous idea, which I fell for, not recognizing the close connection between stupendous & stupid.

No regrets. It was a challenging project. Early on I decided to choose pairs that shed light on a variety of subjects, such as sports (“champion & champagne”), war (“infant & infantry”), and money (“flatulence & inflation”).

Which brings us to the subject at hand: SEX. Let’s start with “husband & bondage.”

“Husband” comes from the Old English husbonda, meaning (back then!) “master of the house.” The first syllable—hus—was the Old English word for “house.” The same element is found in the ancient huswife,” “housewife,” which eventually came to be pronounced “huzzy” and spelled “hussy,” with the disrespectful meaning of a loose woman.

Back to “husband”: The second syllable band is from the Old English bonda, “a farmer,” which, after the Norman Conquest in 1066, came to name someone who was under the control of the lord of the manor. Hence, bonda signified subjection, from which arose “bondage.”

Happily, with the rise of democratic institutions and the decline of the power of the lords, husbands are no longer seen as suffering in bondage. Indeed, the word “bondage” brings to mind words quite different from suffering.

For those more interested in affairs, consider “flamboyant & in flagrante delicto.”

If you want to call attention to yourself, go for red—red shoes, red sports car, red hair—or if you’re a flamingo, red feathers. This is the lesson taught by “flamboyant,” a word first used in the fifteenth century to name a showy—flaming—style of French architecture. The word comes to us from the Old French flamboyer, “flame,” itself derived from the Latin flagare, “to burn.”

From the same Latin source we get many hot English expressions such as “flambe,” “inflammatory,” “flagrant,” and in flagrante delicto. A literal translation of this Latin legal term is “with the crime still blazing.” Figuratively, we get “in the act of committing the crime” or “red-handed.”

These days, of course, “in flagrante delicto” almost always refers to an illicit sexual encounter. Hot stuff. Which brings to mind a seventeenth-century synonym for “sweetheart”—“flame.”

The theme of heat brings us to the climax of this presentation: “fornicate & furnace.”

Around the time that Saint Augustine wrote, “Lord, give me chastity—but not yet,” the Latin word fornus referred to “an oven designed with an arched top.” Fornus, which is the source of “furnace,” also gave rise to “fornicate,” and therein lies a story.

According to those who keep track of such matters, prostitutes in ancient Rome waited for their giovannis (johns) near the arch-shaped ovens that baked the bread Romans widely enjoyed.

We can easily imagine some witty Roman making the connection between the literal heat from the ovens and the metaphorical heat of sensual encounters.

At least some of us can imagine it.

That’s it for my presentation. If you have questions, please post them, and I’ll respond here. I’m happy to announce that I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Words of a Feather to one lucky commenter.

By the way, if you’d like to read a few excerpts from the book, please visit the Words of a Feather website. There, you’ll also find an interactive quiz that some people say is very funny.

46 comments:

Mathilde Madden said...

Ha ha. Wow, thanks Murray. I really love this kind of stuff. And not just because of the husband - bondage thing.

No, honestly, not *just* because of that.

Stop laughing at me, Alison... Stop it...

Portia Da Costa said...

Thanks so much for visting, Murray. Your book sounds fascinating... I love finding out where words come from and about their roots and earlier meanings.

Words of a Feather sounds like just the sort of read for triggering ideas for my own books and stories! :)

Nikki Magennis said...

Murray, I could listen to this stuff all day. I love finding out about language - especially when there's a story behind it.

I particularly love seeing new terms getting invented, or new meanings given to old words. This site

http://www.urbandictionary.com/

lets people add their own definitions for new slang. May not be very scientific, but it's quite interesting! And for the UKers -

http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/index.htm

has some great rhyming slang terms that might help me get down with the kids.

Thanks so much for visiting, Murray!

kristina lloyd said...

Excellent! I have sex crime hair. No wonder I'm always getting into trouble.

Loved the quiz, especially the link between - damn, I can't say, can I? That'll give the game away.

The book really does sound fascinating. I love etymology. Word origins can tell us so much about the politics and perspectives of a time. I often wonder about languages in which nouns are gendered and how much that might affect a culture's view of men and women. How do you escape the stereotypes when, say, 'table' and 'emotion' are feminine, and 'hammer' and 'property' are masculine? Sorry, I'm going off at a tangent. It's because, um, I've been, er, practising my French this week. (Quiet Tilly, *quiet!*)

I have a question. I recently wrote a dirty book set in a puppet museum (trust me, it's a winner) and discovered a word triplet I'd love to know more about. Forgive me if this is wrong or distorted: puppet, pupa, pupil all come from the Latin root meaning 'little girl'.

Creepy, huh? Could you expand on this or suggest where I might find out more?

Also, could you get me the phone number of Jason, one of your producers on the ESP Affair?

Thanks, Murray! You’re very kind!

Janine Ashbless said...

Thank you Murray! I could read this sort of stuff all day, and then break off in the evening to watch back-to-back repeats of QI.

Did'ja know that "avocado" means "bollocks"? The Aztecs clearly saw the visual resemblence ... Though if your scrotum is green it's probably not a good sign.

Janine Ashbless said...

Awesome quiz too!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hi, Murray!

Are organism and orgasm etymologically related, or is it mere coincidence that you have to be one to have one? And when a person is capable of having more than just one, can this be attributed, at least in an etymological sense, to organic vegetables? What if the vegetables have the orgasm?

Alison Tyler said...

Jeremy,

You're never going to let up on the fact that Kristina can make plants come, are you?

XXX,
Alison

Murray Suid said...

Mathilde, thanks for being the first to stop by.

Now, if only I were a master of digital voyeurism, I would know what you and Alison are laughing about. But maybe I wouldn't want to know. That's the thing about voyeurism. You never know what you're going to discover.

Anonymous said...

Hey Murray. This book sounds like it's great fun. I'm going to see if I can pick it up today.

Mike Wilkinson

Anonymous said...

Kristina: The Latin pupa,girl,also means
doll. And that's why girls are puppets,
while boys are pupils and puppies.

Mathilde Madden said...

Ah, Murray, it is not really so exciting as all that, except I may have occassionally shown more than a passing interest in husband bondage.

You know, just once or twice...

Alison Tyler said...

Once or twice today, Tilly?
Or once or twice an hour...

Truly, you could do a whole post on the subject, couldn't you? (*hint, hint*)

XXX,
Alison

Mathilde Madden said...

Ah well, Alison I was planning a post on husband bondage (not that I know anything about it but I was going to read up), but look here, Murray beat me to it!

(BTW - anyone know if we're getting any *interesting* search engine traffic today?)

Murray Suid said...

Portia, that would be a thrill if something in the book suggested an idea for one of your stories.

Nikki, thanks for that urbandictionary.com reference. It fills one of the zillion gaps in my knowledge; definitely a site I'll use. Ditto the slang site. I'm writing a kid's novel that involves travel to exotic places...like the UK. A perfect source.

sm said...

This sounds like a wonderful and exciting book for word lovers everywhere. And I’m not surprised to learn those deliciously decadent Roman women knew how to turn up the heat and make their men’s bread rise!

Nikki Magennis said...

Tilly, I checked the search engine traffic. We got one for 'lust in dust sex stories', which makes some kind of sense.

And one for: 'i would do anything for love but i won't do that meatloaf' - I expect that viewer was sorely disappointed.

Hey, why have we never had a half naked Meatloaf on Lustbites yet?

- And Murray - London slang is a world all of its own. Buzzwords there seem to last about two weeks before they're passe. The rest of the country has its own variants, with a little less of a fast turnaround. Glasgow's 'patter' is legendary:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_patter

- and now boyf is suggesting I write a Glaswegian dialect erotic novel.

"He got his tadger right up her and she felt the stirrings of wild desire in her fanny*"

Sigh...I think maybe not.

Rachel said...

Thanks for a clever interview. I love to look at word origins and how meanings change over the years.

Murray Suid said...

Kristina, thanks for your kind words. One of the best etymological resources I've found is the Online Etymological Dictionary: http://etymonline.com/ It not only provides detailed etymologies but also does a clever thing with synonyms. Plus it's easy to use.
For more in-depth online etymologies, I use the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, available at bartleby.com. They've got a feature that lets you trace words back to their Indo-European roots. Many linguistic surprises there.

Anonymous said...

Murray,

Speaking of fornication, who did come up with "putting a bun in the oven?" Was it some old witty virtual Roman. (Virtual meaning "vir," of course.)

Marie

Madeline said...

Thanks for the fascinating and entertaining post, Murray (and Alison.) My previous post to this blog disappeared, so I'll try again and hope it doesn't reappear and make me redundant. (interesting word, redundant.) I live with Felix Baron. One thing we share is a love, a *love* of words - not uncommon in writers, I'm sure. How fabulous that our raw product comes, not from the ground or the lab, but from - thin air. Words are everywhere!
Thanks for the quiz - a few surprises there for me. I'll be interested to see if Felix does better than I do, he should, as he has shelves, literally, of word origin books. We'll be sure to add yours, Murray.
Felix and I are also screenwriters. Isn't it funny to write books to help pay for screenwriting, when it would seem more likely to be the other way around? We have a filmscript in competition right now, at Bmovieonline.com. Apparantly, the winners will have their script optioned. We're the only couple in the competition, entered under our real names.
Good luck with the movie, Murray, and the book. It's always a joy to spend time, even online, with a fellow wordsmith.

Kissa Starling said...

Alison sent me and I'm glad she did. Very interesting.

Deanna Ashford said...

Thanks for the post Murray, it was fascinating.
I often spend time when I'm writing my historicals trawling through books just to ensure that a word I use hasn't been generated by some more mordern meaning. You can't stick to the language of the times but using word like mesmerize seems pretty henous to me if my book is set in 12c England.
I'll definitely look up all the sites you suggest, they sound fascinating, as does your book.

kristina lloyd said...

Thanks Murray!

Etymonline is great. I've just been looking up dirty words there - I mean, researching the Latin roots of puppies.

If you'll all forgive me, this link is for Tilly:

Hey, Tilly!

Alison Tyler said...

KL,

As Jason is one of the producers for The ESP Affair, why not try to beam him a message. Something like, "Do you have any boots that need shining?"

XXX,
Alison

Murray Suid said...

Janine, I did NOT know about the connection between avocado and bollocks. But my original manuscript did discuss the link between "vagina & vanilla (bean)" and "penis & pencil." For some mysterious reason, these items got cut. Hmmm. But I did reprise "vagina & vanilla" on my blog.
Thanks for the heads-up on suspicious scrotum coloration. I'll check it out. And, of course, I appreciate your note about the interactive quiz.

kristina lloyd said...

Alison, I've been beaming Jason all day!

I think there's some problem with the time zones though. He hasn't got back to me yet. I'll give him a while longer but if not, I'm going to try the cinematographer who was also cute.

Can I be dolly grip on The ESP Affair? (Whatever that is.) And can I come to opening night too?

Madelynne Ellis said...

Oh, I love this sort of thing. Thanks for visiting, Murray, and telling us all about your fascinating book.

Mathilde Madden said...

I just had to go digging on your blog for vagina/vanilla - as those are two of my favourite words.

And I love this quote:

'...based ultimately on the Latin" vagina," a word that back then had no anatomical meaning. "Vagina" was simply the name of a object into which you could stick your sword.'

Murray Suid said...

Jeremy, listen carefully because I'm going to go over this only once. I mean, who is going to be interested in "orgasm"? Especially on this site? But I promised the wonderful hosts to answer every question honestly or (if need be) dishonestly.
* "orgasm" is from the Greek "orgasmos," meaning "excitement or swelling." If you want more (information, that is), you can go back to the Indo-European source "wrog" meaning to "swell with strength."
* "organism"--like "organic," "organize," and "organ" go back to the Greek "organon," a completely different word meaning "implement, musical instrument, and organ of the body," literally "something that you work with," for example, a harmonica. (I was going to say "mouth organ" but I feared that would give you ideas.) Anyway, this family of words goes back to the ancient root "werg," which means "to do," and relates to "urge."
Thus, I can say with 23% certainty that "organism" and "orgasm" have no etymological connection. Do you see any link between "urge" and "orgasm"?
Now about "cum..." Oh, good. You didn't ask.

Anonymous said...

Murray! Mike Artell here. Just wondering...are there such things as "entomological PEARS?"

hysterical - hysterectomy?

kristina lloyd said...

Ha! I just went to look up 'cum'.

British northerners, you'll be relieved to know it has nothing to do with Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Smut Girl said...

Murray, now I ask you, simply off the top of my head (;) ) cunning/cunnilingus...connection? See, there's a running joke in this family that cunnilingus means "cunning linguist"...and now...I wonder--are we right!?

Now, if they are not in any way related, I am joking. If they are, then obviously I take full credit for asking.

Great post. Your books looks very addictive. We're word lovers around here.
xo
sommer
p.s. now *that* is a post you pray has no typos in it. Would be very embarrassing for me to spell cunnilingus wrong...

Murray Suid said...

Mathilde, I agree with Alison that there's a LOT more to be said about husband bondage. Just tying up the loose ends of my piece could make for a satisfying read.

sm, I appreciate your reference to getting a rise out of men. As it happens, I'm an amateur baker. My specialty is biscotti, which brings us back to Italy, where so many good things have their origin.

Rachel, "clever" is about as far as I can go. So your comment makes me happy.

ALL: What a welcoming and witty place this is. Hot, too, of course. I expect to read and enjoy many of the books linked here.

Shanna Germain said...

Chiming in late here, and not much really to add, except that I own a copy of this book, and I love it. Because...well, because I'm a total word geek. Duh.

And the only other thing is that I laughed my way through both the essay and the comments. My, we are a funny, funny bunch! Good deal.

Happy weekend all!

s.

Mathilde Madden said...

Kristina

And Murray

Saskia Walker said...

I love this book, Murray, and it was such fun that both my Dad and a psychologist friend got a copy of it for Christmas. They had a lot of fun with it too. :)

Lovely to see you posting here. Good luck for The ESP Affair project!

Murray Suid said...

Madeline, I hope you win that screenwriting competition. A friend of mine won in some competition or other and it led to a movie deal!

Kissa Starling, I'm glad you stopped by. Thanks for reminding me to say "thanks" to Alison for getting the word out.

Deanna, you raise such an important point. I read a friend's excellent Civil War novel--in manuscript. It did a first-rate job of bringing me into the past. But I did find a couple of "modernisms" that broke the spell; www.etymonline.com is a big help in checking out when words became popular. Of course, the OED is even better--but I don't own a copy.

Kate Pearce said...

So interesting! Thanks for visiting, especially on a Saturday.

Furnace=Fornication? So next time I read a bit of purple prose mentioning a women's "burning tinderbox of love" the author might be more accurate than I thought?
wow
you live and learn

Alana said...

Hi Murray:

Thank you for the lesson. Would this fall under the heading, "Linguistics?" Had to take a class in college. However, your lecture was a lot more fun!

I'd love to win a copy of your book. But I'm a Lust Biter and so shouldn't qualify to win. (Am I right, ladies?) Haha. So I'll add it to my list, as I just happen to be hitting a bookstore tomorrow.

Hey, have you read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss? As of now, my favorite witty book on language, well actually punctuation.

I once wrote a thesis paper on the origin of the word shit. Great fun!

Thanks again for stopping by.

Peace,
A

Anonymous said...

Thank you Murray for the very cool interview. You could have gone on and on and it would have been fine with me. I find this type of discussion endlessly fascinating.

I'm sure your book is one that I'll be looking to acquire in the very near future.

Best wishes,

Elyse

Murray Suid said...

Madelynne, I appreciate your kind comments about my visit. As teachers often say: I learned more than I taught.

Smut Girl: I messed around with "cunnilingus"...while writing WORDS OF A FEATHER. I mean, I messed around with the word's etymology. I never got it right and the publisher wasn't interested anyway. So here's my chance.
Although linguistics can be cunning, according to the experts, "cunnilingus" does not derive from "cunning linguist."
Most authorities agree that the first half of the word derives from the Latin "cunnus," referring to the "vulva." (Possibly "cunt" is a relative.)
The second half of "cunnilingus" is likely from the Latin "lingere," "to lick."
Now, the Latin "lingua," meaning "tongue" and metaphorically "language" (as in "mother tongue") also gives us "linguistic." Since you use your tongue for licking (at least, I do), I don't think it's a stretch to say that there's a connection between "cunnilingus" and "linguistic. But my sources don't establish that link.
As for "cunning," interestingly it traces back to an Old English word "cunnan" meaning "know." And we all know that one of the meanings of "know" is to be sexually intimate ("carnal knowledge"). You can thus grok why some language wit suggested "cunning linguist" as the source of "cunnilingus." But it's just a joke.
Which reminds me of a joke that happened to me long ago. In a book review that I wrote for my college newspaper, I used the word "cunnilingus," which had appeared in the book. The dean called me in and said that I was the laughing stock of the university because my review suggested that I thought cunnilingus was practiced in the real world, whereas in fact, it was just a fantasy.
Short on experience--and not trained in argumentation--I didn't know what to say to the dean. I can think of a few clever reposts now. I'm just a few decades too late.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Popping in late after a long, hard day of mini-golf and carpet shopping yesterday. (With two handsome men, which makes even shopping for carpeting fun.) Great post. I must order this book...once we get paid for the paranormal anthology and I have some cash, that is.

If you're still out there, Murray, any connection between cunt/cunny and coney? Weirdly enough, I know that old Spanish used conejo (bunny wabbit) as slang for vagina, but I'm not sure about old English. It looks plausible, but so do orgasm and organism. Yes, I could look it up, but it's more fun to ask you.

Murray Suid said...

Shanna, a writer can't ask for more than to read the words "I own a copy of this book, and I love it." Thanks. And yes, you ARE a funny bunch. Which is so good. My best teacher at UCLA taught: "Life gives us tragedy; it's up to us to create comedy."
Not a dig at those who explore the dark side. I've killed a few good characters myself. But I do like laughter.

Saskia, I'm glad to hear that the book went over well at Christmas. In trying to market it, I learned that, according to a "stocking stuffer" company--yep, there are such businesses--the trim size is perfect. The content? Well...

Alana, I believe the book does fit into linguistics, which is the science of language. I'm not much of scientist, but I appreciate what the scholars discover about language--especially, words. As for the origin of "shit"--the word, not the stuff--I'd be interested in what you learned. I didn't go there because I had a feeling the publisher had been pushed far enough by "flatulence" and "bondage." For some people, "shit" crosses the line, maybe because it's too real. I admire the writer and the publisher who gave us the wonderful children's book "Everyone Poops."

Teresa, the connection between "cunt" and "coney" has been much explored. I'm not entirely clear about it, but here's what I think is true (based on information provided at the wonderful site www.Etymonline.com:
* "cunt" comes to us from the Middle English "cunte" with the modern meaning of "cunt." Its earlier origin is disputed, some experts tracing it to the Latin "cuneus," meaning "wedge" (??), and others to an Indo-European word "gwen," the source of our modern "queen." But no one knows for sure, and perhaps a mysterious origin is appropriate for a word that's as powerful as "cunt."
* "coney," meanwhile, traces back to the Latin "cuniculus," meaning "hare" or "rabbit." It was used widely into the nineteenth century--rhyming with "honey." But then British slang adopted "coney" as a synonym for "cunt." An analogy is the sexual use of "pussy."
A complication happened because "coney"--for rabbit"--is used in the King James Bible. Hence, it couldn't be eliminated entirely from decent (!) usage. The solution was to change the pronunication, so that the word rhymes with "boney." Exactly how the authorities could effect a pronunciation change isn't clear to me. For example, listen to how many people pronounce "etc." as if the underlying word were "ek-cetera." But the change happened, as we know from the name "Coney Island," named for the rabbits once found there.
Feel free to tell me I haven't cleared up anything. I'm often in the dark about language. For example, I have no idea why the powers that be prohibit the use of good old-fashioned, clear words like "fuck" and "shit" in the general media. What's to be gained by using euphemisms? There must be some benefit, but I can't figure it out.
Perhaps the honest talk on sites like this contributes to their humanity and value.

Alana said...

Murray, don't know if you'll be back to see this, but two of my son's favorite books are "Everyone Poops" and "The Truth About Poop." He's also been known to yell at me to "Come here, quick Mom!" from the bathroom, and then when I arrive, point into the toilet and say, "Is that the most hugest piece of poop you ever saw in your life?"

My boy.

:-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Show me a Coney Island and I'll show you a peninsula.