On the Presences and Absences of Pasts

Über die An- und Abwesenheit von Vergangenheiten

Etymology makes for fascinating study, even if the history of a word does not necessarily tell us anything important about its contemporary meaning. Despite its limitations, perhaps etymology can point to subterranean connections between words, spark possibilities for reflection and, thus, create or make explicit neglected semantic possibilities? 


Stet – ‘let it stand’

Consider the words “statue”, “constitution” and “restitution.” All share a common Latin root in “statuĕre, to set up place.”[1] A statute is raised-up and made to “stand.” Something that is constituted is “set up” and established. Finally, “restitution” stands something back up again – restoring a status that it is claimed it had before damage or injustice was done. “Stet” one used to write – when reading proofs of text – where one changed one’s mind about a deletion and wanted, instead, to “let it stand.” These consideratio…

Categories: 7 (2019) 24
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2019-14054

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