Scorpio 27: A military band on the march

The word mi li t ar y d e s ce n d s

f r o m t h e M i d d l e F r e n c h m i li t ai re f r o m L a t i n mi l i ta ri s m e a n i n g “ o f soldiers or war” or “one who m a r c h e s i n a t r o op . ” 1 T h e u l t i m a t e o r i g i n m a y b e t he S a n s k r i t m e la h meaning throng.” T h e w o r d b a n d h a s t w o d i s t i n ct d e f i n i t i on s d e s c e n d i n g fr o m d i f f e r e n t r o o t s . T h e f i r st r e fe r s t o “ a f la t s t r i p ” o r “ t o s o me t h i n g t h a t b i n d s ” a n d d e s c e n d s f r o m t h e I n d o - E u r o p e a n ( IE ) r o o t bh e ndh - w h i c h m e a n s “ t o b i n d. ” P a r on y m s i n c l u d e wo o db i n e, b i n dl e st i f f ( a h o b o) , ba n da na , be n d, “ a s s e mb l y ” and t he G r e e k h o m i l o s “ a ss e m b l e d c r o w d ,

b a n d, bo n d, ri bb on , b u n dl e, a n d c um m e rb u n d . 2 T h e s e c o n d d e f i n i t i o n
r e f e r s t o a g r o u p of p e op l e g e n e r a l l y a n d m o r e sp e ci f i c a l l y t o m u s i ci a n s p l a y i n g i n a e n s e m b l e . 3 T h i s me a n i n g d e s c e n d s f r o m t h e M i d d l e F r e n c h

b a n de w h i c h i s t r a c e a b le t o t h e P r o t o - G e r m a n i c ro o t o f t h e fi r s t
d e f i n i t i o n o f b a n d a n d t o t h e G ot h i c b a n dwa me a n i n g “ a si g n . ” T h i s m e a n i n g m a y r e f e r t o “ a b a n d o f c l o t h w o r n a s a m a r k o f i d e n t i fi c a t i o n b y a g r o u p o f s o l di e r s o r o t h e r s . ” 4 T h e w o r d ma rch he r e m a n s “ t o w a l k s t e a d i l y a n d r h y t h m i c a l l y f o r w a r d i n s t e p w i t h ot h e rs . ” I t d e s ce n d s f r om t h e IE r o o t merg - w hi c h m e a n s “ b o u n d a r y, b o r d e r . ” 5 A m o n g i t s p a r o n y m s a r e t h e w o r d s m a rk, ma rq u ee ,

m a rc h ( t h e b o r d e r o r b o u n d a r y o f a c o u n t r y o r a n a r e a o f l a n d ; a
f r o n t i e r) , de m a rc at i o n, m a rkka , m a rka , re ma r k, m a rgin , a n d C ym ry .

1 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=military 2 Watkins, C. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo European Roots, p. 10 3 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/band_2 4 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=band 5 Watkins, C. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo European Roots, p. 55 Starling Hunter © 2011 1

TH EMES : T he w o r d s mi l i t a ry a n d b a n d a re c l e a r l y r e l a t e d t h r o u g h t h e i r e t y m o l o g i e s : b o t h r e f e r t o ORGANIZ ED GROU PS o f m e n a n d / o r w o m e n . M o r e g e n e r a l l y w e c a n s e e t ha t w e h a v e m e n o r a n a r m y o r b a nd o f s o l d i e r s o n t h e ma rch , i . e . w a l k i n g s t e a d i l y f o r w a r d a n d i n u n i s o n . B ut t h e r e i s a l s o a n i n d i c a t i on o f w h a t t h e y a r e m a r c h i n g t o w a r d —a ma r ch , i . e . a b o r d e r o r f r on t i e r.

Starling Hunter © 2011

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