Head & shoul­ders

Sing the rhyme as you word your way through these body parts

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - GER­ALD LAUZON

Head, shoul­ders, knees, and toes; knees and toes, knees and toes / Head, shoul­ders, knees and toes; eyes, ears, mouth and nose.

The pre­ced­ing oc­curs as a nurs­ery rhyme gen­er­ally sung in prekinder­garten classes for de­vel­op­ment of phys­i­cal agility in the chil­dren as they put their hands on the noted body parts in rhyth­mic co-or­di­na­tion with singing the lyrics.

This ex­er­cise may also be adapted to learn­ing such ba­sics in an­other lan­guage as with English and French, the lat­ter tak­ing this form: “Tête, épaules, genoux, or­teils; genoux, or­teils, genoux, or­teils / Tête, épaules, genoux, or­teils; yeux, nez, bouche, or­eilles.”

Thus to­day, we ex­plore back­grounds of the anatom­i­cal terms.

The source of English “head” is not fully as­cer­tained. A link to the Ger­man “haupt” may re­flect a com­bined in­flu­ence of “haar” (hair) and Latin “ca­put” (head), with the lat­ter re­fer­ring to a per­son’s top fea­ture and cog­ni­tive cen­tre yield­ing con­nec­tions to “cap­i­tal” (main city), chief/chef (leader), and “cab­bage” (head­shaped).

French “tête” has the Latin ba­sis “testa,” re­fer­ring to a seashell with a cra­nial / cup shape adapt­able to hold­ing liq­uids.

“Shoul­der” is likely linked to “shovel” for the an­cient use of an an­i­mal shoul­der blade as a dig­ging de­vice, per­haps re­lated to “spade” from an over­lap­ping in­flu­ence of Latin terms “scapula” (shoul­der) and “spatha/spat­ula” (wide blade), the lat­ter as ba­sic to the French equiv­a­lent “épaule.”

English “knee” (orig­i­nally pro­nounced “keh-nee”) is a vari­a­tion of French “genou” ( jeh-noo), with the mean­ing “an­gled,” a con­cept ev­i­dent in the leg ac­tion of “gen­u­flect­ing” (knee-bend­ing).

English “toe” is sourced in “digit” ap­ply­ing to both fin­ger and toe with the mean­ing “pointer,” while French “or­teil” has the ba­sis “ar­tic­u­lated” mean­ing “jointed con­nec­tion” as nat­u­rally part of fin­gers, toes, and an ex­tended bus joined to an ad­di­tion for more pas­sen­gers.

“Eye” and “oeil” (plu­ral “yeux”) have in com­mon the Latin-sourced “ocu­lus,” the “oc” of which oc­curs in atro­cious (dark or evil-eyed), fe­ro­cious (wild-eyed), and ve­loc­ity (rapid eye in vis­ually fol­low­ing fast move­ments).

Three other de­riv­a­tives are “ogle” with “og ” for eye in a stare, win­dow with “ow” for eye of a house wall (prim­i­tively a small gap) open to the “wind,” and “daisy ” with “y ” for eye of day­light or lit­er­ally “day’s eye,” with such a flower imag­i­na­tively viewed as a yel­low mini-sun sur­rounded by cloud-like pe­tals.

French “nez” and English “nose” share ob­vi­ous deriva­tion from Latin “na­sus” (nose) and linked in English to these words: nasal, nos­tril, and noz­zle (small nose­like ob­ject).

Re­lated flower ref­er­ences are “nas­tur­tium” (sour smelling) and “nosegay” (sweet smelling).

The ori­gin of “mouth” refers to chew­ing in be­ing linked to the word “mandible” ( jaw). French “bouche” de­rives from Latin “bucca” (cheek) with ref­er­ence to a mouth as “cheek-bound cav­ity.”

Fi­nally, “ear’ and “or­eille” share the Latin ba­sis “au­ris” (ear) with re­lated terms “oyez, oyez” as a town crier’s ap­peal to be heard and French’s “or­eiller” - a bed pil­low per­ceived as “ear rest.”


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