I’ve always been fascinated with how things get their names. The evolution of language is seemingly quite random. Even just the characters are strange; all they are is an arbitrary collection of lines and shapes meshed together to form some kind of image.
But then we combine these odd hieroglyphs with each other, smush them next to each other, hoping they’ll get along. Then we label them as ‘words’ and start adding even more strange designs in the form of tiny lines and dots and call them ‘punctuation.’
And then we call this whole thing ‘language’ and tell other people these are the rules and teach them to our children and write whole books and guidelines about how they work and get angry when people don’t use them correctly and then we have to stop and have a glass of water because suddenly none of it makes sense.
Take fruit for example. What does the word itself mean? ‘Fruit’—what is that? Someone decided at some point that this stuff we eat will have this particular collection of symbols and that will be the name.
Then we get more specific. We have things like ‘apples’ and ‘bananas’ and ‘pears.’ But the one that always gets me is the ‘orange.’ We have this word that describes a colour and a fruit—how does that work? How can it be two things? How can so many of our words mean two things? ‘Read’ and ‘read.’ ‘Bear’ and ‘bear.’ ‘Lead’ and ‘lead.’ Why not call it a different colour that relates to orange? Why not call it ‘Tawny’?
Of course then you’d have to re-name the wine and that would just create a whole new set of problems.