Languagehat Returns.

Well, that was unexpected. You feel an unusual sense of compression in your abdomen, and before you know it an ER surgeon is telling you your appendix has to come out and having you wheeled off to the operating room. The team at Cooley Dickinson was wonderful and I had a relatively quick and easy recovery, but after a long (long, long) weekend, I’m very glad to be home. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m feeling pretty logy and not up to major blog maintenance, but I did clear out the moderation queue (only four comments!), and I wanted to get a quick post up; I’ll read the comments y’all have been leaving, but maybe not till tomorrow. I certainly wasn’t expecting to do another non-language-related post about personal troubles anytime soon, but life does keep one off balance. Take care of yourselves, and remember, if you feel a strange sensation in your abdomen, don’t ignore it!


  1. Glad you are OK. Take care.

  2. Oy gevalt! Glad to hear you’re ok, get well soon and enjoy the painkillers.

  3. As Paul O. said, רפואה שלמה refu’a šlema. Thanks for using the word ‘logy’. I have only seen it once before (in an R. Crumb cartoon), and I like it.

  4. Glad to hear things seem on the mend. Please take your time, and take care. どうかご自愛ください。

  5. Thanks for letting us know, it was getting worrisome.

  6. Welcome back home!

    Logy has always been a written-only word for me, so I decided to look up the pronunciation to see if I had it right. Sure enough, LOW-ghee. Etymologically its origin is uncertain: it may connect to Dutch log of the same meaning, or Low German luggich, or possibly it is a variant of loggy; log is itself of unknown origin. In short, we are clueless but happy.

  7. glad to hear you came through well.

  8. Charlotte Mandell says

    Welcome back, Steve! We missed you.

  9. Rest up, heal quick!

  10. May your sutures never rupture and may all your wounds heal by primary intention! 🙂

  11. Enjoy the painkiller-induced inflight movies . . .

  12. Have a good reast and get well soon! Поправляйтесь!

  13. Get better — the blogosphere needs you!

  14. Dear Hat,

    may you be in heaven a half an hour before the divil knows you’re dead!!

    Keep on recovering well, please.

  15. Very glad that everything’s okay!

  16. Jeffry House says

    All the best, Mr. Hat!

    We’ll come here faithfully in your absence, to keep the campfire burning. But we hope for your swift recovery, and return.

  17. I hope you have a speedy recovery. You’re right, never ignore a pain like that. Happened to me about 15 years ago; mine burst and I was in the hospital for a week. Get well soon!

  18. Daniel Todes says

    Wishing you the very best!
    Всего доброго!!

  19. Yikes! Glad to hear you got through the operation OK. Rest well and take your time.

  20. @John Cowan – I’m the opposite: I had only ever heard it (used by my father) until now. I even looked it up once, but guessed loagy and, not finding it, prematurely concluded it wasn’t known to OED. I wonder if anyone with a subscription to DARE can fill in some details?

  21. Here are the 19C quotations for logy from COHA:

    1863 FIC Gala-days “down in one corner of the cage, half frightened to death, like a logy, lumpy, country bumpkin as he was, and I swept him back to”

    1866 FIC PursuitKnowledge “shouldn’t be let go so. There’ s Mr. Dingham sending his great logy girls to Miss Porter’s seminary. (I wonder if he expects they”

    1877 NF HowCampOut “when you are heated or are perspiring, and never drink enough to make yourself logy. You are apt to break these rules on the first day in the open”

    1878 FIC DriftFromTwoShores “knows on, with all your’ nat’ral nourishment.’ But it looks kinder logy and stupid. ” North freezingly admitted that he had given the infant whisky as”

    1884 FIC StoriesByAmerican “physical and mental — in this gentleman’s ways of deporting and behaving himself. From being logy in movement and slow if not absolutely dull in mind, he became wonderfully agile”

    1890 FIC EarthTrembled “I doan see, no how. I’se gettin’ so heaby an’ logy an’ oncomf’ble dat I’se gwine ter take in washin’ de rest ob de”

    NF = non-fiction, FIC = fiction

    Interestingly, there is a second sense in the OED, ‘heavy fish’:

    1897 R. Kipling Capt. Courageous 61 ‘He’s a logy. Give him room accordin’ to his strength’, cried Dan. ‘I’ll help ye. ‘No, you won’t’, Harvey snapped, as he hung on to the line. ‘It’s my first fish’.

  22. I associate logy with commercials for laxatives and the like, but it’s been decades since I’ve heard it there. Whatever. Best wishes.

  23. Feel better soon!

  24. Thanks for all the good wishes! As I told my wife recently, I wouldn’t have guessed it was possible to feel both unexpectedly vigorous and unexpectedly feeble at the same time. My recovery has been miraculously quick, but I still move around like a centenarian and can’t do anything very demanding; my wife is taking on all the household chores, including bringing in heavy loads of wood for the fire. And I’m delighted I used what I now realize is an unusual word, logy, that provoked a linguistic discussion! Like D-AW I learned it as an oral expression (doubtless from the Ozark side of the family, and I too would like to know what DARE has to say) and was surprised to learn its spelling.

    Enjoy the painkiller-induced inflight movies . . .

    Ha! That came as quite a surprise. The nurses left me alone for a while, I closed my eyes to try to sleep, and — what? Why are those people there? I remember for a while there were two French guys talking, my wife showed up, at one point there was another patient surrounded by a whole family in my (actually single) room. It wasn’t at all dreamlike, but I knew it wasn’t real, because whenever I opened my eyes there was nobody there. So I just enjoyed the inflight movies, and was disappointed when they weren’t there the next night (which means it must have been the morphine — I only got that the first night).

  25. So glad to see your words again.

  26. So you say / And so say we all.

  27. Welcome back, and do take it easy.

    I think it’s been years since I’ve heard the word “logy”. I don’t know where I first encountered it, but I have the idea that my college roommate was fond of it, in the way that some people are fond of odd things, and used it every chance he got.

  28. Trond Engen says

    Whether it’s written logy or loagy, the oa vowel makes it unlikely that it’s either borrowed from or cognate with luggisch et al.

    If it’s native then it’s from lāg, apparently related to ‘law’, ‘low’ and words for “lay (down)” all over Germanic, suggesting an original meaning “prone to lay down; sleepy”. No. lei(g)e “(makeshift) bed; rent” is close in form and partly in meaning. The English verb ‘lag’ might owe its form to shortening in compounds and inflected forms. A parallel example might be ‘rogue’ (in faux French spelling), ‘ragged’ and No. dial. reig “bout of illness; row of travellers”. But are there forms of English with “hard g” in that position?

  29. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Welcome back, and get well soon!

  30. Rest, rest, rest. Hope you are healed up soon.

    Some research says appendicitis is best treated with antibiotics, unless there is a rupture – only then surgery. And other research that says the appendix is a reservoir for gut bacteria from when humans regularly had cholera, if you survive – you get to recolonize your gut with good bacteria. Not entirely useless after all.

  31. David Marjanović says

    May your sutures never rupture and may all your wounds heal by primary intention! 🙂

    Seconded 🙂

    The English verb ‘lag’ might owe its form to shortening in compounds and inflected forms.

    Or it might be a Kluge doublet.

  32. Henk Metselaar says

    Good to hear you’re back home. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  33. …Oh, and congratulations on a successful redaction.

  34. @Hat:
    Joining with everyone else, best wishes and hope you feel better soon!
    @Trond Engen:
    But are there forms of English with “hard g” in that position?
    I’m no expert, but as far as I know, non-doubled final “g” in Old English consistently corresponds to modern y or w (or I guess sometimes /f/), so lāg would be expected to become “low/lough” (cf. dough < dāg). That’s why there are so few words in Modern English with a long vowel/diphthong before a “g”, and a lot of them are from French. A rhyme to “logy” is “hoagie”, but that word’s etymology also seems to be mysterious.

  35. I’m very glad to hear you’re on the mend!

  36. Yes, a bit late but I’m glad to hear this too.

  37. Il vergognoso says

    Very happy about that, too!

  38. unless there is a rupture – only then surgery

    The trick is to do the surgery just before the rupture, so that you don’t risk peritonitis, which even today is often fatal (my sister died of it as a result of adhesions from gut surgery she had had over 20 years before). Of course, this is like the little boy on the bus who tells the old lady she needs to get off two stops before he does!

  39. The word “peritonitis” occurs in the printed report about my surgery in a context that suggests they had to clean it up; I try not to think too much about it. I was truly lucky.

  40. Wow; I’m glad to hear you’re O.K., and I hope you’re back to feeling 100% soon! 🙂

  41. Yes, the perverse little suckers often rupture the instant they are touched. Fortunately, the mess can often be mopped up on the spot. My sister wasn’t diagnosed until a day or so afterwards.

  42. Trond Engen says

    David M.: Or it might be a Kluge doublet.

    Yes, that finally struck me too this morning. EtymOnline mentions a dialectal Norwegian verb lagga “go slowly”, which I didn’t know. After looking it up I can broaden the attested meanings to “walk slowly and steadily” (No. Telemark), “walk around without purpose” (Da. Bornholm), “hang about, walk lazily” (Shetland). This could be a doublet of laga In the sense “talk in great detail about nothing”, new to me. Also, there’s an unvoiced parallel doublet: lakka “move steadily”, which I actually did know, but only in the specific meaning of time passing: Det lakker mot kveld “Evening is approaching”, and laka “walk around with nothing to do”, which I also didn’t know.

    To the rogue bunch, add Scand. ragg “goat wool”.

  43. Be glad you felt that compression. If your appendix is further back in your body (as mine was) you might feel at most a slight discomfort and go to the gym to “work it out” (as I did).

  44. Well, I wouldn’t actually go to the gym under any circumstances, but I take your point. Glad you came out OK!

  45. lagga “go slowly”

    . . . brings to mind laggard, for which AHD offers no etymology.

  46. Peritonitis can be nasty business indeed. Unlike JC’s, several decades ago my sister survived a bout after gut surgery.

  47. Best wishes likewise! I know the feeling, as this happened to me on Christmas 2007 (like you, I’m in the wrong age bracket for appendicitis, so it took them a moment to twig). Still, from reading a poster on the hospital corridor wall, I got a blog post about Pliny the Elder, Roman middens and piddock out of it.

  48. Well done you! And I’m amazed so many of my readers have had the experience.

  49. Glad to hear you’re okay, Steve.

  50. 1. For Hat: We’re all (I’m sure) hoping for a smooth and quick recovery of strength. My grandmother was over 70 when her appendix burst and she waited two days to go to the hospital. (“It’s just a stomach-ache. I’ll be fine if I skip dinner.”) She recovered quickly and lived another 10-15 years. Then again, it’s possible that 50 years of Scotch-and-very-little-water every night had made her guts near-invincible.

    2. Eli Nelson: Unless I’ve been pronouncing it wrong all my life, ‘fogy’ rhymes with ‘logy’ and ‘hoagie’.

    3. Everyone: If we’re getting into etymologies inspired by Hat’s account of his adventure, I’d like to mention that ‘appendix’ is (or was) just about the only word I can think of with different plurals for different meanings. When I was young, humans had appendixes, and books had appendices. I can still recall the shock when I saw (35 or 40 years ago?) that Oxford University Press had started advertising the quality of the ‘indexes’ and ‘appendixes’ in their books on Roman history and the Latin language. I would have thought that they could have let us Latinists keep our ‘indices’ and ‘appendices’, even if everyone else switched over.

  51. @Michael Hendry: For me, the plurals are still “indices” and “appendices,” no matter what the meanings. However, I haven’t had many opportunities to write or talk about multiple examples of the human appendix.

    I knew at least one person that distinguished strictly between the two plurals of “cow.” For multiple bos females, the archaic plural “kine” is available, and he used it exclusively. For other female animals, only “cows” is possible.

  52. Trond Engen says

    Michael Hendry: ‘fogy’ rhymes with ‘logy’ and ‘hoagie’

    Heh. Spelled fogey in my dictionary. Let me quote EtymOnline (starting there this time):

    fag (v.1) “to droop, decline in strength, become weary” (intransitive), 1520s, of uncertain origin

    And, of course, ON/No. dial. feigr “mortally ill or wounded; moribound”, No. feig “cowardly”.
    The semantics of the pair of verbs faga “weaken, give in” and fagga “cuddle; lump together” isn’t too promising, though.

    I also have a couple of issues with my other No. wordpairs above: None of the examples show original long a, since that would have yielded No. å. Also, the English GOAT vowel regularly corresponds to No. ei (as in geit). I don’t know if Kluge is particularly helpful with that.

  53. David Marjanović says

    Wow, laga/lagga/laka/lakka is a complete Kluge quartet!

    The semantics of the pair of verbs faga “weaken, give in” and fagga “cuddle; lump together” isn’t too promising, though.

    “Collapse” and “collapse a lot”?

  54. Also bogey, dogie, stogie.

  55. What are a Kluge doublet/quartet?

  56. Meaning that one variant has been through Kluge’s law (see above for link) and the other has not. Kluge’s law generates Germanic non-expressive words with geminated voiceless stops.

  57. ‘appendix’ is (or was) just about the only word I can think of with different plurals for different meanings

    Insects have antennae, radio and TV receivers have antennas. The distinction may not be observed by non-specialists, but my (non-specialist) impression is that entomologists and radio engineers cleave pretty closely to it.

  58. Bogey < dial. bogge < ME bugge ‘fearsome specter’, also > bug. This is surely expressive gemination. Dogie is of unknown origin and provenance (it first appears in print as late as 1887), but I bet it’s expressive gemination too. Stogie, on the other hand, is adj. ‘coarse, rough’ > n. ‘cheap cigar’, short for Conestoga, an Iroquoian name ‘?people of the cabin-pole’.

  59. David Marjanović says

    Meaning that one variant has been through Kluge’s law (see above for link) and the other has not.

    …with additional forms generated by analogy, because the long consonants were only formed in parts of the paradigm and Verner’s law further complicated things.

  60. Ann O'Domini, AJP says

    More medical news (to me, anyway). Lots of people with dangerous allergies carry an epipen nowadays to receive a shot of adrenaline in emergencies. It helps buy time to get to a hospital by opening up airways and correcting low blood pressure in anaphylactic shock. I just twigged that epinephrine is our Greek-derived word for ‘above the kidneys’, the location of the source, just as the Latin for it is adrenal. Adrenaline & epinephrine are the same thing. Epinephrine is the coinage of an American pharmacologist who extracted the stuff from adrenal glands in 1897.

  61. Other variant plurals:

    phalanx (military) -> phalanxes
    phalanx (anatomical) -> phalanges

    comma (punctuation) -> commas
    comma (rhetoric) -> commata

    staff (group) -> staffs
    staff (music) -> staves
    staff (pole) -> staffs or staves

    index (textual) -> indexes or indices
    index (mathematical) -> indices

    matrix (mathematical) -> matrices
    matrix (other) -> matrixes or matrices

    ganglion -> ganglia or ganglions

    medium (spiritualist) -> mediums
    medium (of transmission) -> media

    cherub (angel) -> cherubim
    cherub (other) -> cherubs

  62. John Cowan:
    Excellent: nouns with different plurals for different meanings are more numerous than I thought.

    However, I don’t think ganglia/ganglions really belongs on that list. That’s one of the many words with two different plurals (usually Greek or Latin vs English) but no difference in meaning, e.g. cacti/cactuses, fungi/funguses, referenda/referendums, genera/genuses, lots more.

    Something that’s a little harder to classify: the plural of ‘life’ is ‘lives’, but I believe the plural of ‘still life’ (as in paiting) is always ‘still lifes’.

  63. ‘still life’ (as in paiting) is always ‘still lifes’.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, which hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, could aptly be described as ‘still lifes’.

  64. Maple Leaf takes a regular plural because it is a compound, and as such seals off the irregular noun head, unlike lower case maple leaf. Similar things happen with fly v., preterite flew > fly ball > fly out, preterite flied out, not flew out.

  65. I missed the bad news, but got the good news! May a thorough recovery be yours, and back to the firewood chore (I’ve been doing that, by the barrowloads–good for old bods).

  66. I thought yesterday of:

    datum (geography) -> datums
    datum (otherwise) -> data

    Then there is the strange case of ephemeron. In the singular, it referred to the beliefs of ancient authors that there were insects that lived only a single day (true, if you mean just the adult form, like mayflies), plants that ditto (untrue), and plants poisonous enough to kill you in a single day (true). The figurative sense ‘short-lived person, institution, or production’ is still with us, but the last recorded use of the singular is in 1796; since then we have spoken only of ephemera in this sense, as well as the later sense, not yet in the OED, of ‘collectable items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity’ (from the ODO).

    But there are two outliers: during the 19C, mayflies were called ephemeras or even ephemerae, taking ephemera as the singular. And in very recent times, computer scientists have invented an object called an ephemeron, reviving or re-creating the 18C word in a new sense, but with plural form ephemerons. (For those who care, an ephemeron registers interest in two other objects, known as the key and the value; if no other object is interested in the key, then the ephemeron will forget about both key and value, even if — and this is the distinguishing point of ephemerons — the value is itself interested in the key.)

  67. David Marjanović says

    like mayflies

    Ephemeroptera. 🙂


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