March 24, 2010

Unusable factoid of the week: Barbarians


Not long ago, I ran across an extremely interesting factoid. I can't remember where exactly (I think I know, but that book has since left my possession), so let me quote the All-Powerful Oracle, Wikipedia:

"The word 'barbarian' comes into English from Medieval Latin barbarinus, from Latin barbaria, from Latin barbarus, from the ancient Greek word βάρβαρος (bárbaros). The word is onomatopoeic, the bar-bar representing the impression of random hubbub produced by hearing a spoken language that one cannot understand, similar to blah blah and babble in modern English."

I confirmed this by running it by an extremely smart friend of mine, who happened to know it offhand. That was good enough for me—this is the way I roll, trivia fans.

So the word barbarian basically comes from ancient Greek gibberish. I spent a good 20 minutes trying to form this into a usable Big Quiz Thing question, but didn't manage to get satisfactory results. Closest I came was this:

"Q: What word is derived from the ancient Greek for a foreign person, meant to sound like the babbling of a foreign language?"

Not the worst thing I ever wrote, but not good enough for the big show. Might as well offer it here, a little extra value for those of you who have given in to my entreaties to read the blog.

It's pretty fascinating, though. It got me thinking about some of my favorite barbarians in history. There's Conan, of course, and Thundarr (who certainly didn't babble, sounding more
like a pretentious actor in small-town Shakespeare in the Park production). Finally, there's this dude:

5 comments:

Bill Scurry said...

I think that technically actor Channing Tatum counts as a barbarian as well.

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