Mid-what??

I know I’m not supposed to blog about topics such as word meanings (or grammar, punctuation, or spelling) ever again, but I have to do it this once more or I’m going to end up throwing a metaphorical cyber-fish at someone.

So… [ellipses for dramatic pause because I’m a snarky bastard] Let’s talk about the word medieval.

First, I would like to assume you already know that it isn’t “mid-evil” and that it has nothing to do with evil or devil worship or whatever.  (I long to live in a world where this sort of disclaimer isn’t ever necessary.  Maybe I can find a gate to an alternate universe…)

Anyway.  Medieval.  This word refers to the Middle Ages, called such because those were the years between the Dark Ages and the Renaissance.  Guess who named that era the Middle Ages?  Yep — not the people living in that time.

And that’s part of the point I’m mostly trying to make here:  No one living between the years 1066 and 1485 A.D. (approximately — there are differing cut-offs on both ends, depending on whom you ask) ever thought of themselves as living in the Middle Ages.  Middle of what?  If you lived in the year 1456 (gods have mercy on your soul), you thought of that year as “right now,” not “ye olde Medieval Tymes.”  (*shakes head*  That’s a rant for another post, but fear not — that post will never happen.)

Not long ago, I read something online about a fictional world where the civilization was ‘stuck in the medieval times for a thousand years’ because of something going wrong.  Um… No.  Stuck at a medieval-equivalent level of technology or other aspect of culture for a thousand years?  Sure, it could happen if the right set of circumstances existed.  But when they are isn’t medieval anything.  It’s now, for them.  It doesn’t matter that they have the level of culture that we had in Europe during the real Middle Ages (which, by the way, wasn’t nearly as backwards in many ways as the popular view would have you believe).  If it’s the most recent era for the characters because they’re still living in it, it’s not in the middle between other eras.

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to Mid-what??

  1. milliethom says:

    Your post is very interesting, and amusingly written. The subject matter / your opinion is also something I can wholeheartedly agree with. What more could I ask for on a Sunday morning? Great!

    Like

  2. Pingback: “…all your life and mine…” | North of Andover

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