The Mummy, Mammy, and Mommy

Q: What did the Ancient Egyptian postman say to the boy?
A: “Hey, fellow, is your mummy home?”

Christmas-cracker-joke writers and unfunny uncles have long delighted in the double meanings of the word mummy. I thought about this coincidence a little recently with the release of the bland new Tom Cruise mummy film.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no link between mummy in the Ancient-Egyptian sense, and to refer to a mother. Mummy in the shambling-around-in-bandages sense is derived from the Persian word mūm  which referred to both an embalmed corpse and the embalming substance involved in the process of mummification. The other sense of the word mummy though, I find much more interesting.

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Rebel Rebel

I’ve just realised that’s another one: rebel.

As in (to explain myself slightly), rebel with the first syllable emphasised, is a noun, and rebel (with the second syllable emphasised) is a verb. I think being exposed to so much about the new Star Wars film has made me notice that.

Anway, may the Force be with you.

Force, of course, is also a verb and a noun, but with it being monosyllabic, you don’t need to worry about its pronunciation.

My Word is My Bond

Have you ever given someone your word? Is your word your bond? Why specifically do we use these expressions when we talk about promises? What is it about a word that’s so important that we can trust it so much? I suppose it makes an idea more concrete. We can think that we want to do something for someone, but what good is it until we transform that thought into a word either by speaking it or writing it down. Once the thought’s out in the world we’re committed to it. Continue reading