Etymology! Fun!

And now, lessons in potentially highly confusing etymology!

Observe the Finnish word “salivaraus”. It is something that a university lecturer might mutter needs to be taken care of; or that she might wonder about (“there’s been problems with that lately”) as she’s heading out to lecture.

Now, you might think this is a word of German origins. “Raus” means away, off or out of — as in the Rammstein song title “Rein Raus” or “In, Out”, which is about rhythmic motion of that sort — and “saliva” might have the same meaning as in English. “Salivaraus” might be a weird local word for getting the phlegm out of your cheeks before going out and talking for a couple of hours.

Sadly, no.

The word breaks down as sali-varaus. “Sali” is a slightly pompous word for a lecture room; outside university circles it would be a hall as in a dance hall, the halls of a king’s castle, a high ceiling and a high possibility of fluted columns and then like; like “Saal”, the German word of same meaning. “Varaus” means a reservation, as with hotels, restaurants and the like; from the verb “varata”, to reserve.

Thus, a “salivaraus” is a room reservation for a lecture or some other teaching incident; which lecturers need to do a little practical running with, and wonder if this is the week the university’s computer systems reserve Closet 12 for everybody.


Note 1: For some reason I keep writing etymology as etymnology, feeling dubious, checking — as in, google the word and see if the top hits are literate or illiterate — and swearing.

Note 2: What about the word for a university? That’s “yliopisto”, as in “yli-” something that is higher, above or supreme (“Ukko Ylijumala” or Ukko the Over-God of Old Finns, a sort of a less priapic Zeus), and “opisto” a school — though I think “opisto” is only used in this word and then alone in the titles of small religious or political adult education academies. The mainstream word for a school is “koulu”, which sounds unrelated to everything, but is from Swedish “skola” and ultimately Greek “skhole”, whose descendants went “school” in other parts of the world. If you tried to put an S in front of the Finnish word, you would just get directed to the speech therapist.

Note 3: And since these are the sort of things I worry about — a (Ph. D.) dissertation is a “väitöskirja”; that should have umlauts over the first a and o. That is “väitös”, a claim or assertion, an understandable word though one that reeks of philosophy and hard-core logic, and “kirja”, the most common and basic word for a book. So your dissertation is literally an “assertion-book”; the assertion probably is that you know things now. Since graduate school is half impostor syndrome and half Dunning-Kruger syndrome, I think that’s very funny.

Note 4: What syndrome is it when you can’t remember if it’s impostor syndrome or imposter syndrome? And since it’s the former, is imposter syndrome something Internet-related? Well, now it is —


Imposter syndrome (note the “e”) : The result of bloggers blogging what they wanna blog; a growing distance between who the poster is, how she/he is doing and what he/she knows on one hand, and what it posts on the other hand. For example, a Finnish graduate student of mathematics might appear witty by only posting on his blog those utterances that successfully lean in that direction; the non-showing of the huge basket of function theory exposition thru dick jokes means readers think he is a better person than he is.

(The worst part is WordPress keeps all your old drafts. I don’t want to go and see what I was trying to pull off in 2007. Which means that’ll probably be the next post.)


Edit: When I post a post on WordPress, it whines that I should add tags to it, and suggests a few. For this post, these: videogames, gaming, science, literature, aviation, transportation.

Try harder, WordPress.

One Response to “Etymology! Fun!”

  1. Rosie Says:

    “graduate school is half impostor syndrome and half Dunning-Kruger syndrome” stealing this

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