Friday, July 24, 2009

Poetry: E Pluribus Unum; Cognatus, Ergo Sum

E Pluribus Unum;
Cognatus, Ergo Sum

Some might consider us a family
of false cognates, but to us,
this suggestion is offensive.
Despite lawyers littered
there are no steps in our households;
nothing halfway about our relationships.
The legal prefixes ignored
as with our disparate roots --
We are one.

1 Out of many one; Co-born, therefore I am.

©2009 John C Newmark

Genesis of a poem

A colleague was searching for a one-word synonym of 'blood-relative'. An internet search suggested 'cognate'. I was only familiar with the linguistic definition: words with a common etymology. Ironically, I was fascinated to realize cognate's own etymology. I say 'realize' instead of 'learn' since I took high school Latin, and should have seen the roots.

The metaphorical etymology of the linguistic term inspired me to reverse the metaphor with 'false cognates.' False cognates are two words similar enough in look and meaning people might assume they have the same roots, but they don't. (e.g. English boy and Japanese bōya.) A genealogical definition follows easily. And the poem was born.

I wrote the poem to work on both the personal family level, as well as a national level.

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