Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Summer Fun 2014 - Maleficent Marshmallows, or Unschooling: A Play in One Act
Setting: Our living room on average weekday morning. A (age 13) is on the phone with a friend. T (age 16) is rummaging through the kitchen cupboards in the adjoining room, looking for a snack. I am sitting on the couch, with a laptop, just realizing I've mangled a sentence in my last blog post, and trying edit, and update the post before anyone else can read it.
A (hanging up the phone): Brianna wants to go see Magneficent.
T (from the kitchen): Maleficent (entering the living room) mal-eficent, mal-luh-luh-luh.
Me (hitting "update", and looking up from the computer): Mal meaning bad, because Maleficent is a bad fairy.
Me: You know like malo in Spanish - meaning bad. Weren't you studying Spanish this year?
Me: Same dif. Isn't bad "mal" in French?
A: I think it's mauvais.
Me (opening a new window on the computer, typing a quick search, and scanning the page): Okay, it's mauvais and mal, meaning bad and badly, as an adjective and an adverb. Mal means evil in French when it's a noun. Still like the fairy.
T (who's studying German): So mal is Greek.
Me: Latin, Spanish and French are Latin languages (typing another search, and reading again) and mal is from Latin, meaning bad or evil, as in malady, malaise, or maleficent. (clicking the word and reading) Something or someone that is maleficent deliberately tries to cause harm or evil. There you go, mal, malo - bad.
A: So is that where marsh-mallow comes from, because marshmallows are bad for you?
Me: Yaaa no, I don't think so. They're not good for you, but I think they get their name from a plant.
T: Does it grow in a marsh? That would be bad for you.
Me (typing): I have no idea (realizing you can't search for "root marshmallow" to find word roots for the plant, because the search will bring up articles about marshmallow plant roots instead, changing the search to "marshmallow word origin" and reading) Old English mersc-mealwe "kind of mallow plant (Althea officinalis) which grows near salt marshes;" from marsh + mallow. The confection (so called from 1877) originally was made from paste from the roots of this plant. The Greek word for the plant, althaea, is from althein "to heal."
T: So it is Greek.
A: And it's good for you.
Me: Mal is Latin. Marshmallow is Old English, or from the Old English for the plant althaea - which is from the Greek. The plant is good for you, or was thought to be. The confection is not.
A: Do we have any?
Me: Any what?
Me (having now completely forgotten what I was doing): I think we might.