Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Character

I always thought 'character' and 'actor' shared the same root. To do with action. Shows how much of an ignoramus I am:

Character: early 14c., from O.Fr. caractere (13c., Mod.Fr. caractère), from L. character, from Gk. kharakter "engraved mark," also "symbol or imprint on the soul," from kharassein "to engrave," from kharax "pointed stake," from PIE base *gher- "to scrape, scratch." Meaning extended by metaphor to "a defining quality."


Sense of "person in a play or novel" is first attested 1660s, in reference to the "defining qualities" he or she is given by the author.


(From etymonline)

act (n.)

late 14c., from O.Fr. acte, from L. actus "a doing" and actum "a thing done," both from agere "to do, set in motion, drive, urge, chase, stir up," from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move" (cf. Gk. agein "to lead, guide, drive, carry off," agon "assembly, contest in the games," agogos "leader;" Skt. ajati "drives," ajirah "moving, active;" O.N. aka "to drive;" M.Ir. ag "battle"). Theatrical (1510s) and legislative (mid-15c.) senses of the word also were in Latin. The verb is first attested late 15c.; in the theatrical performance sense it is from 1590s. In the act "in the process" is from 1590s, originally from the 16c. sense of the act as "sexual intercourse." Act of God "uncontrollable natural force" first recorded 1882. To act out "behave anti-socially" (1974) is from psychiatric sense of "expressing one's unconscious impulses or desires."

Well there you go.

'Never confuse movement with action' - Hemingway.

5 comments:

Sharazade said...

My lesson was more basic: "Never confuse NON-movement with action either." Though it was said more kindly.

Nikki Magennis said...

Heh, well yes, being of a slothful persuasion I have to watch my non-action tendencies ...

Madeline Moore said...

I'm happy you're blogging again and even happier that you're writing again. It's a whole new world, isn't it, when you have a 24/7 distraction
who unconditionally adores you? It's what I believe is referred to as 'a full life'.

Fulani said...

Note sure I can add anything useful to the discussion, other than that it's both useful and timely to be reminded of this in the context of the story I'm currently writing...

Nikki Magennis said...

Madeline, hello! Thanks for dropping by. I'm afraid it's all going to be a bit hapzard. More haphazard than usual, even. But eh, I'll do my best!

Fulani - wonderful, so glad it was of use! I find the thought of character being a defining quality quite interesting, as though we can fix a certain quality down and identify the character through that.