Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today's Word of the Day: Ethology

A form of this word came up while re-reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference in preparation for two-plus days of upcoming meetings.

When I think about it, the word makes sense. The prefix, as I'm familiar with it, comes from the koine (common) Greek New Testament word ethos, which means customs and usage, in addition to, sometimes, morals or character. Ethos is about how people do things.

The suffix-logy, from the Greek logos, literally means word. As it's been transliterated into English, the word means, literally the word about or, less literally, the study of the subject of the word's prefix. So psychology is the study of the psyche (life) of a person; geology is the study of earth (ge in the Greek); anthropology is the study of human beings; sociology is the study of people in society, and so on.

But I hadn't remembered ethology from my first time through Gladwell. Apparently, there are people who are ethologists. Wonder if that's printed on their business cards? ("Joe Smith, Professional Ethologist.")

And once people realize what an ethologist does, do they become self-conscious about everything they do and why they do it when they're with an ethologist?

When they're on airplanes, do ethologists try to keep their profession secret from seatmates until after they've established a rapport, the way we pastors do?

Back to my reading.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Centerville, Ohio.]

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