Daily Archives: October 28, 2018

focal

It’s all a matter of how you see it. In what context you see it. From what distance. And how much it contrasts with what’s around it.

This is the word of my life: focal. More than almost any other word.

No, wait. These are the words of my life: focal and focal.

Focal, in English (and French and Spanish and Portuguese), means ‘of or relating to focus’. It comes from Latin focalis.

Focal, in Irish, means ‘word’. Is é focal an focal i gcóir focail. (‘Word is the word for a word.’) It looks like it could come from Latin vocalis (source of English vocal), but it doesn’t – although it is distantly related. It comes from a Proto-Celtic word that traces back to a Proto-Indo-European root for ‘voice’, wṓkʷs. Along with the Latin vox set, that root also led to the Irish word fuaim, ‘sound, noise’, and to many words in many other Indo-European languages, such as German erwähnen ‘mention’ and Dutch gewagen ‘report’. Continue reading