Monday, October 26, 2009
Of "Wolves" and "Were"
Etymology, or the history of words, is kind of a hobby of mine. I'm no expert, but where words originate and how they change over time fascinates me.
And did you know words can go extinct? No one says, "I lost my azaleas to last night's gelicide (frost)," anymore. Gelicide - cool huh? Really evokes that whole 'killing frost' thing. Perhaps we should bring it back.
But I digress. Today's Hallo-week post is about werewolves. Werewolf has a particularly nifty etymology. What's interesting is that the idea of "were" (man) combining with "wolf" (uh...wolf) has so many origin points. There's the possible Old English 'wer,' but there's also the Gothic 'wair,' German 'ver,' and Norse 'verr.'
The variety of language birthplaces for werewolf is matched by the diversity of lycanthropic legends across cultures. So many, in fact, that I'd have to write a book to recount them all (...and that may happen). But for now you can visit this very cool site to read up.
So where do our furry friends fall in the pecking order of classic Halloween beasties? According to the Wall Street Journal werewolves are about to usurp vampires in the pop culture spot light (*rubs hands* excellent).
So whether you're a fan of the New Moon variety of wolves.
Or the more classic Wolf Man -
Get ready to howl. Oh, and Nightshade has the awesomest werewolves of all time. Just sayin.