Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sack

No plant today. It's Fructidor 20 so the French Republican calendar features a tool: the sack, to be exact. At first I wasn't too inspired by this but then I started considering all of its permutations.

The brown paper bag in which I carry home my groceries.
The green Book of the Month Club bag which carries all my essential items: calendar, wallet, pens, paint chips, bus schedules and the all important: something-to-read.
The cloth bag in which I carry my library books back and forth.
The knapSACK--I don't have one right now but I still have the one I bought at an army surplus store in England when I was a college junior and in the height of hippiness I went to England and wandered around in a long dress made out of curtains, playing tunes on my recorder to the sheep in the fields.

The Wikipedia article on sack,
mentioned several alternate meanings of the word, which are interesting, including sack, a kind of sherry, and sack as in knocking down the quarterback and sack as in fire an employee and sack as in plunder.

It’s easy enough to see the origin of this latter use—anyone sacking a village would have used a sack to carry away the goods they plundered. Perhaps the tackling the quarterback comes from the same meaning—raiding the treasure. But how does one come up with sacking an employee? Maybe because they have to pack their bags and go home? And what about hitting the sack? That’s easy if you sleep on a sack stuffed with straw. The word for sherry does not come from the same word but from the Roman word siccus, meaning dry.

The American Heritage Dictionary provides a history of the term with a special note on the way it was passed from one group of people to another through trade. The Greeks got their word sakkos, which means a bag made out of coarse cloth or hair, from thePhoenicians and although we don’t know the Phoenician word, we can see its cognates in Hebrew saq and Akkadian saqqu. The Greeks passed the word along to the Romans who called it saccus, who passed that word along, with bags one supposes, to the Germans with whom they traded. The Welsh, Russians, Polish and Albanians also picked up this word from the Romans.

The Wikipedia link to an article on bags,
reminded me of other important sacks, including the sleeping bag, the suitcase, sachets (sacks filled with herbs) and, my favorite, the tea bag.

And I suppose there are many more sacks in my life. I am going to pay special attention to them today.

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