Friday, 26 February 2010

The Etymology of the Dynamics of Politics

Helen Duffett got me thinking in a Tweet earlier. Why do we stand or run for office before we take a seat?

So I decided to look up the online etymology dictionary to see when and where the sources of the various words we use to describe the various dynamics of politics come from.

Run Meaning: to seek office in an election This appears to come from American English dating from 1826. Ironically that was the year that the second and third men (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) who ran, though obviously didn't use that term etymologically speaking, successfully for President of the United States died on the 4th July. That lead to the often erroneously quoted last words of Adams 'Jefferson survives' despite the other passing 4 hours before. Long before the days of 24 hour news blasting from every room in the Presidential and former Presidential abodes.

Standfor Meaning represent, be in place of This would appear to be the derivation of standing. It comes from 1567 it would be the represent the area or (in the case of a rotten borough) the patron you represent. It was also the year that the infant James VI (later James I of the United Kingdom) was crowned King of the Scots following his mother Mary's imprisonment initially at Lochleven Castle.

Therefore as you can see stand is more of a English expression while run is a young-ish upstart Americanism though they are both interchangeable despite the former being a dynamic word and the second a static. Maybe that speaks something of the infant nation seeking to be set apart from the former colonial power.

Seat Meaning place in a parliament or other legislative body Stems from 1774, the last month of 1773 of course saw the Boston Tea Party when there was outrage from the Colony of America about British imposed taxation. Ironically of course there is only sitting room for 427 of the 646 successful candidates seeking a seat in the House of Commons.

You can tell that we are all chomping at the bit for Gordon Brown to actually call the election now can't you?

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