Incidental thesis note: translation & etymology

One of the fun (yet time-consuming) tasks I’m tending to as I re-re-redraft my thesis is consistency of translation. I’ve noticed that my translation of certain key Yolηu terms, for instance, has drifted somewhat since I wrote the first, earlier chapters.

In my effort to decide on final translations for key terms (and articulate key concepts as clearly as possible) I’ve been looking up common English terms used to describe or denote interdependence and mutual or reciprocal relationships. I’m interested in these terms because one of the conceptual themes articulated through the cluster of key Yolηu terms associated with personhood, emotion and morality in interpersonal relations, is that human beings are everywhere and always in a state of mutual interdependence. For example, in the introductory chapter I’ve written:

“Yolηu concepts of personhood, morality and value articulate a shared understanding about the fundamentally interdependent nature of all people or ‘human beings’. The fact of sharing a life in common as kin and coresidents (or consociates) implicates a form of exchange already embarked. Questions of morality and value are concerned with   ‘states of exchange’, rather than any particular or discrete instances or acts of reciprocity or exchange). These concepts give rise to a local theory in which issues of morality (and the measure of value), are concerned foremost with the ‘state or sense of feeling’ (ηayaηu)  among and between those involved in any given situation or event (and/or how this affects or ‘effects’ the general state of relations).”

Central to the way Yolηu think about issues of personhood, morality and value etc. is this idea that everyone – all people, anywhere, at any given time – are always by default in some state of interdependence or state of social exchange. In order to articulate these ideas clearly (and provide precise and consistent translations of associated terms) I’ve been ‘thinking through’ the etymology of some common English terms common English terms used to describe or denote interdependence and mutual or reciprocal social relationships the like. Here are some interesting bits and bobs I stumbled across and noted down for no particular reason today:

Interdependent’ is from Latin ‘inter’ (‘among, between’) + ‘dependent’ from Middle French, ‘dépendance’, from Latin ‘dependere’ (‘to hang from, hang down; be dependent on, be derived’, from ‘de-’ (‘from, down’) + ‘pendere’ (‘to hang, be suspended’ as in ‘pendant’).

The English term ‘interrelationship’ is: ‘inter-’ from Latin ‘inter’ (‘among, between’) + ‘relation’ from Latin ‘relationem’ (‘a bringing back, restoring’), from ‘relatus’ used as past participle of ‘referre’ from ‘re-’ (‘back, again’) + ‘latus’ (‘carried, borne’) + ‘-ship’ from Old English ‘-sciepe’, Anglian ‘-scip’ (‘state, condition of being’).

The English term ‘conjoin’ is from Old French ‘conjoindre’ (‘meet, come together’), from Latin ‘conjungere’ (‘to join together’), from ‘com-’ (‘together’) + ‘jungere’ (‘join’), which is (very cool), associated with the English term ‘jugular’, which is from Modern Latin ‘jugularis’, from Latin ‘jugulum’ (‘collarbone, throat, neck’), which is a diminutive of ‘jugum’ (‘yoke’), thus related to ‘jungere’ (‘to join’).

The English term ‘solidarity’ is derived from French, ‘solidarité’ (‘mutual responsibility’), from ‘solidaire’ (‘interdependent, complete, entire’), from ‘solide’ (as in the English ‘solid’).

And I really like the term ‘pari-mutual’ as a descriptor for mutual investment in interpersonal relationships (not in a market economy sense). Pari-mutual is from French ‘pari-mutuel (‘mutual wager’), from ‘pari’ (‘wager’), which is from ‘parier’ (‘to bet’), from Latin ‘pariare’ (‘to settle a debt’, literally, ‘to make equal’) + ‘mutuel’ from Latin ‘mutuus’ (‘reciprocal, done in exchange’).

The English word ‘level’ is from Old French ‘livel’, from Latin ‘libella’ (‘a balance, level’), diminutive of ‘libra’ (‘balance, scale, unit of weight’). Similarly the English term ‘even’ is from Old English ‘efen’ (‘level, equal, like; calm, harmonious; quite, fully; namely).

The ‘co’ in the English term ‘cooperate’ derives from the prefix ‘com-’, usually meaning ‘with, together’, from Latin ‘com’, an archaic form of classical Latin ‘cum’ (‘together, together with, in combination’).

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