Flight of Ideas
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Flight of Ideas

Change is the only constant

The world is moving at a fast pace. New keeps up coming to replace the old. Our life is a race to adjust to this change. Adjust or be replaced. Bob Dylan, 2016 Literature Nobel prize winner, once wrote a beautiful song

Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

But each generation reserves their apprehension with this change. It seems to be a human tendency to consider all change as evil and to languish in the old bygone days of youth that are considered to be the golden years. So with every change that tries to set in, there is always resistance by people. Back in the time of my grandmother, people opposed cameras as they believed that they rip your soul apart. They also opposed color TVs as they believed they will make you go blind. When I was young I saw people opposing mobile phones. At present, I see people opposing the rise of artificial intelligence. Makes me wonder, did they oppose tires back in that era?

A specific instance of a man who left an indelible mark on history, as he opposed the change, comes to my mind. Ned Ludd, a man who lived in the early 1800s, faced a great change — Industrialisation. The textile weaving that was earlier done using hands by thousands of people in England was going out in favor of machines. Thousands of people, unable to keep up with this change, were up against mechanization, automation, industrialization. They feared everyone will become unemployed and the civilization will collapse. (Did it?)

Ned Ludd was their leader. In a fit of rage people, led by Ned Ludd, burned mills and pieces of factory machinery. Thus began the Luddite movement, a revolution against a revolution. And thus was born a word in English. Luddite. A person opposed to new technology or ways of working.

The Leader of Luddites, Ned Ludd

Now you can use the word Luddite to denote anyone who is opposed to technological advancements. But be cautious it carries a derogatory sense for some and may not go well.

Shadows of the past

The year was 1501 when a statue was discovered in Rome found in the River Tiber. The statue was battered, Hellenistic style, and was a relic of the past. Years of exposure to natural processes had damaged the statue. The statue was placed on the side of a plaza nearby and was Pasquino after a local tailor known for his wits if the legends are to be believed.

The statue was identified as that of an ancient mythical king Menelaus holding Patroclus. It had survived all the changes in the world and the times. And was going to change the language itself. Someone put a criticizing note on the statue one night. Soon everybody started following the same suit. The criticizing notes were usually satirical in nature. The popularity of the statue Pasquino grew so much that other talking statues started coming up in the country.

And soon the statue Pasquino on which satires were posted gave birth to a word — Pasquinade. And it actually means a satire or lampoon, originally one displayed or delivered in a public place.

Pasquino

Around the world in 400 years

When Philip of Macedon threatened them with, “If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta to the ground,” the Spartans’ reply was, “If.”

People of Laconia were known for their bravery, skills in war, and most importantly terseness. They may be believed in replying with their sword instead of their tongue. It was this terseness, thriftiness with words that inspired someone to fashion the word laconic after the town of Laconia. The town still stands in Modern Greece but the word carries its legacy and shall continue to carry it for years to come.

Language like the world has its own ebbs and flow. It picks up the words and drops up old words. Sometimes it gives new meaning to old words. And people oppose the change in languages as well. English is witnessing increased usage of slang. Most people hate them and oppose them. But language is not immune to change. Like it or not it will change with time.

Bonus

The word Luddite is an eponym (word after the name of a person). English is full of such words that are after someone. Here are some commonly used eponyms.

  1. Boycott after Charles C. Boycott
  2. Sandwich after Earl of Sandwich
  3. Nicotine after Jean Nicot

There are numerous other eponyms. Can you think of any other?

And can you think of any eponym in your own local language?

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Priyash Jain

Priyash Jain

Psychiatrist. Aspiring writer. Voracious reader. Tech junkie. A logophile. History enthusiast. Foolishly optimist.