Monday, 1 October 2007


I've always liked words. Language is one of the greatest inventions, one of those breakthroughs after which there is no way back. We, as humans, were probably meant to be intelligent, but it was just when we started to talk, as we started being able to communicate with each other, that we finally woke up from our long sleep, holding a torch in our hands, bringing the light of knowledge to a million year long and dark night.

I love words. But I like some better than others. For most of them I am not able to tell why. Just because they sound great or beautiful. Or maybe because they remember me of something happy. Or just because they remember me of something. Sometimes it's because they are, somehow, round. And sometimes, I don't know, they are just perfect.

I've decided to add a new label to my blog, favourite words, where I am going to present, from time to time, words and expressions that I love. I am not promising any regularity here, because they come and go, but I promise as soon as I find anything I will share it with you.

Today I've got an expression, a German one, which goes: Mühsam ernährt sich das Eichhörnchen.

Which means, literally, "The squirrel feeds laboriously", and it's a German Redewendung (figure of speech) meaning something like "slowly but surely". I love the word Eichhörnchen (squirrel) because it is a diminutive and it remembers me of Einhorn (unicorn), although it has nothing to do with it. And I love the word mühsam, when used as in "laborious, strenuous", but not when used as in "cumbersome".

I love the visual power of this expression, because mühsam is exactly the way a squirrel eats a couple of nuts that you feed to it in a park, say in Schönbrunn, in Vienna.


Di said...

I love words too! I find their origins and meanings very interesting.

For example:

The English squirrel comes from the Greek skiouros (skia shade + oura tail). Maybe the original notion is "that which makes a shade with its tail". :))

Tonicito said...

That's really interesting! "That which makes a shade with its tail" sounds really appropriate to describe a squirrel :)

By the way, after your comment I realized that the Catalan word for squirrel (esquirol) seems to come from the Greek as well, doesn't it? Esquirol is one of my favourite words, too!

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