The Louisiana Classicist

April 25, 2010

The Boston Globe: Frankenwords

Filed under: just for fun,link — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 3:20 pm
Tags: ,

From Boston.com:

Frankenwords

. . . even though the race is named for the Greek town where Pheidippides’s legendary run began (a town whose name means “fennel”!), our marathon is a recent usage. It didn’t become the name of a race until 1896, when the first modern Olympic Games were staged. And once recast as an English word, marathon was instantly applied to other endurance contests. . . .

Nothing controversial in the tale so far. But then I clicked on the dictionary’s link to -ATHON, and found myself in another battle of marathon. The word had eventually led to danceathons and talkathons, and language scholars were not happy about it. This new suffix-ish athon, said the OED’s note, had been “barbarously extracted” from marathon.

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