the second commandment, cultural mutations and etymologies

sometimes – not too often, i admit – it is nice to be latvian. even for someone who’s consciously mutated into english.

so, why this time? because latvian has some words modern, contemporary english will never have. take the word for ‘thank you’* in latvian, for instance.

it says ‘paldies’. the aproximate translation would be – ‘god help’. given that the written latvian languge does not go much further back than C15 AD, it is quite predictable, which deity is implied here.

and then, there is the 2nd commandment (do not use the name of the Lord in vain). the question is – how to, then, use it not in vain? i have been asked this question from time to time, and have been puzzled by it endlessly.

and then i thought – being latvian and all – that one of the ways of ..hmm.. appropriate use of the name of the Lord, would be this simple word – paldies. used in all those little life situations where the latvian culture, especially in the metroplitan city of riga does without thinking, or thanking.

in a culture where saying nothing about sb else’s work is considered to be a compliment (as everyone is so busy with finding faults with everyone else), some simple words of thanks might change the universe.


*the old english þancian is an absolute verb (how is the sound of that) meaning ‘have good thoughts’, ‘feel gratitude’ towards sb. for sth.
from Bosworth, Joseph. “An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online.”

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