Saturday, September 22, 2007

Antiquarian v. Antiquated

I've always liked the word antiquated, largely because I am not chattel, but I am not infrequently reminded of those old laws, and antiquarian reminded me of that.

Antiquarian derives from the Latin "anti" for "before" and pre-Indo-European "-okw" for "appearance". Of course, during Medieval times, it started taking on other forms and meanings. First, the Latin derivative "antiquus" came to mean "former, ancient", then antiquity meaning "olden times", then c. 1550, "antiquarius" for "a student of the past" (antiquary in modern usage). And finally, antiquarian for "pertaining to antiquaries or their studies". It should be noted that antiquities was just the adjectival form of "old", but has come to mean from the period of time before the Middle Ages (a.k.a. really old). Meanwhile on a separate etymological vein, and just for sake of completeness, c. 1700, antiquated sprang into existence for "obsolete". Somehow the idea of old evolved into simply outdated. Another 100 years later, and we have antique proper, for an old and collectible thing, although that's not necessarily outdated (e.g. furniture and china). It isn't until the early 1920s that we get antique as a verb for "to give an antique appearance to" when we return to the worn out concept, an adjective to describe something that is old and collectible, and finally, another verb for the activity of collecting these old collectibles. It's all so confusing, but basically there are two threads: antiquarian and all the "r" derivatives for really old and antiquated and all the "t" derivatives for outdated.

Ok, so I guess I'm not as enamored of antiquarian as I am of antiquated. It's so easy to say that Plaintiff's counsel's calling me "little lady" was an antiquated sentiment from a chauvinist era. Blue light laws prohibiting coin operated laundry on Sundays are similarly antiquated. But there are few examples of antiquarian music. Hmm. that's not quite right, or at least, it shouldn't be. Antiquarian relates to those who study the past or their study of the past, not the past itself. An early musicologist is an antiquarian pendant. Oh yeah, that's clear, as well as a double entendre. Who would even say such a thing? And I know some early musicologists! The Magna Carta is technically not old enough to be of antiquarian interest. ugh. It's correct, but dumb. Can I just give up on this word, and condemn it as esoterically useless. Why does DD continue to do this? Antiquated has so much more possibility. Perhaps antiquarian is an antiquated word. I'm going to treat it as such.

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