Comments on Dead Media Working Note 48.0
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Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 12:58:04 +0200

>The origin of the word book, is disputed, but is generally thought >to derive from the Anglo-Saxon Root "bc", or literally beech tree.

* The German word for book is Buch. The beech tree is called Buche.

>Most historians believe that sticks of beech were used to write >upon with a pen or brush, some believe that the beech bark was >stripped from the tree and used as a kind of paper.

* A stick is a Stab in German - think of what y'all call a staff.

>If the etymology >of the word "Write" is examined however, the Anglo-Saxon source >word "Writan" in its earliest use means 'to scratch' and only later >on does it come to mean writing as with a pen.

* Hmh, it might be interesting for these etymologists to learn a second and maybe even more foreign languages: The German verb ritzen means to scratch (in a concentrated way, as in to scratch through something or into something, like to leave marks), and there is a word that sounds very close to scratch, that would be kratzen (this means to scrape, which is more on a surface of something than to scratch, which is more controlled and depth-oriented, as in making furrows).

>It is no surprise >that the majority of these tally sticks are made of beech, and that >the Runes or secrets were scratched or "Writan" upon them. These >sticks may therefore be the etymological precursor of the present >day book.

* And now, let's take a German beech and a stick, and what do we get? Buchstabe - the word for letter.

* It is folk lore that the old tribes (don't ask me whether they mean Kelts, Germanic tribes, or who else we had around here, like Romans, Damascens, Goths, Huns, Mongols) had sticks of beech that they marked with runes. These were then split along their length, and each party of a deal/contract took one half home. Whenever court meetings (ting) were held to solve legal arguments, these sticks would be held together, so everybody could see what had been noted, and who spoke truth.

* This wooden based, unique-copy medium makes me wonder if that is why the folks in those days were apparently so keen on torching each others houses. Maybe that's where this rather annoying tradition comes from - resolving legal issues by burning each others homes and churches. This might macro-economically even have been cheaper than hiring a lawyer, but nowadays, it doesn't really add up so nicely as it used to back then. Somebody should inform the population of certain regions about that.

Alexander Schuth Editor superstar - Das Musikmagazin