Saturday, March 26, 2011


A more recent take on Andy Warhol’s famous dictum puts us in a future where we will all have 15 friends. If you Google the word “social”, you get over 2 billion results. But, what is this “social” which we all take for granted and of which we all so readily speak? The word appears in history prior to the year 1387 as sociale borrowed apparently from the Latin via the Middle French. Routed from the Roman mother tongue, it originally meant “united or living with others” and “companion.”

Looking just one step further into the wilderness of word origins, we find its root in the Latin sequi which means “to follow.” So, here in a nutshell is where the Twitter transitive verb, “to follow”, finds its first use. If we search still further, we come upon its link to the Old Icelandic seggr meaning “companion or man” and ultimately, to the mother lode in Sanskrit where, as sakha, it simply means “friend.”

Here, we arrive at root origin of the Facebook transitive verb, “to friend”, closing the loop of a word that we use everyday to describe the expanding communication ripples that bind, link, and otherwise connect us at a click. Or to paraphrase what Terence, the Roman philosopher might tweet, “Nothing social is foreign to me.”

1 comment:

Joe Escalante said...

On behalf of dead languages everywhere, Old Icelandic thanks you for the shout out.