The elections are coming! The elections are coming! Actually, they’ve been had – and so has the electorate. It was Donald tRump against Whatzizname. Let’s skip past Pathology and Psychology, and go directly to
Psephology, “the study of elections,” comes from Greek psêphos “small stone, pebble.” (The Greeks used pebbles in counting and arithmetic functions; the ancient Athenians also used pebbles to cast votes in elections and trials.) The element –logy is the completely naturalized combining form used in the names of sciences (geology, biology) and bodies of knowledge (theology, astrology).
The 20th-century British historian R.B. McCallum wrote in a personal letter that while with C.S. Lewis and other heavy-hitting philologists, he proposed the term electionology, which so offended the sensibilities of Lewis and the others that they proposed the etymologically correct psephology, avoiding the dreadful Latin-Greek hybrid. Psephology entered English in the mid-20th century.
At first I thought that I would need to be paid – handsomely – to study elections. Elections themselves seem to be interesting only to CPAs and statisticians. However, the dramatis personae, the cast of characters, has evolved to make them high drama, and low comedy. After that first Punch and Biden debate, I thought that they would have to provide the moderator for the second with a cattle prod. It seems that a simple mute switch was sufficient, although sparks still flew.
I composed this post before the Great American Election of 2020, so, no spoilers. Don’t tell me how it turned out. No matter who won, the American public lost. Now we Canadians face the inevitable march to the polls, to choose between Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dumber. I’m gonna study my crosswords till they spend my pension on Green Energy. 😯