Saturday, November 05, 2016

Ard times for MU's

So this exchange appeared in my tumblr feed yesterday:

That's pretty darn great if true, but a citation is lacking, so I hit up the online Oxford English Dictionary.  Here's the entry for the suffix -ard:


Etymology: < Old French -ard-art, < German -hart-hard, ‘hardy,’ often forming part of personal names as Old High German Regin-hart Raynard,Ebur-hart Everard; also in Middle High German and Dutch a formative of common nouns, generally pejorative, whence adopted in the Romance languages. Used in French as masculine formative, intensive, augmentative, and often pejorative, compare bastardcouardcanardmallard,mouchardvieillard.

 It appeared in Middle English in words from Old French, as bastardcowardmallardwizard, also in names of things, as placardstandard (flag); and became at length a living formative of English derivatives, as in buzzarddrunkardlaggardsluggard, with sense of ‘one who does to excess, or who does what is discreditable.’ In some words it has taken the place of an earlier -ar-er of the simple agent, as in braggerbraggarbraggardstanderstandard (tree). In some it is now written -art, as braggart; in cockade, orig. cockard, corrupted to -ade suffix.

The OED's first definition of wizard ("A philosopher, sage... Often contemptuous") confirms this negative connotation.

My conclusion is that etymologically wizards are close to mad scientists, in that both concepts express the fear that there is such a thing as too much knowledge.  That's basically what I do in the latest version of my Wessex campaign already.  Magic-users are twisted by their secret knowledge into cosmic conspiracy kooks.  Their paranoid insights into the universe are considered blasphemies against the established order of the universe, even when they are true.