Interlude 2

An Etymological Confabulation Drive

An etymological confabulation drive (ECD) works on the same principle associated with a linguistic fallacy whereby a person can use a word found in a text to mean something it was never meant to mean and thereby alter the meaning of the text to suit his purposes.* In much the same way, the ECD could get a person anywhere they wanted to go from any starting point; it just required three or four arbitrary steps to do so.

The only drawback with the ECD was that the intervening steps were completely random. This unpredictability made its use so hazardous that insurance companies underwrote no vehicles equipped with this drive. As a result the ECD became an instant bestseller on the black market being immensely popular with certain sectors of the populace where the mortality rate was high enough already. Some are attempting to enact legislation to ban the ECD, but whether the legislation is ever passed remains to be seen. During one of the debates, one of the senators asked, rather effectively, whether a high mortality rate in the affected sector of the populace was not something that ought to be encouraged.

*An example would be to say the word ‘syncopation’ comes from a Latin root used by Latrinius the Worse in a description of a nefarious pagan ritual observed by a small tribe of Hittites in northern Asia minor. The word was explained by Latrinius the Better in such a way as to make clear it meant ‘a frenzied worship of demons’ and was derived from the Greek term ‘copao,’ which in a dialect of which there are no extant records was used unambiguously to designate an occult ritual. One might, if one had the flair, throw in that a few discreditable sources seem also to associate the term with all manner of fornication, communism, and unpatriotic behavior. This might be used to suggest the kind of neighborhood which the word could be expected to haunt, even if it did not denote its ultimate provenance.

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