December 21st, 2012.

Or however you put it, is the last repetitive date we will see. Some even claim this day to bring the end of the world as we know it. Starting with the Mayan calendar which ends today, many prophesies take upon this notion, to the creation of what is broadly called as the “2012 phenomena”.

The Mayans believed in circles and their completion; according to their belief, the world we now reside in is the 4th world, the successful Gods creation in which human beings were placed. Each world holds for 13 b’ak’tuns, a term roughly equivalent of 5125 years. And today is the completing day of this world’s 13th b’ak’tun, a day of high significance for the Mayans.

So, saying “The End of the World” is easy; but what exactly does it mean? A meteorite will crash into our planet and destroy it? The Iranians will fail in just nuking who they want and will, instead, bring the final doom upon this world’s population? This is a good question that we can actually try and answer with some etymological hints!

We saw the movie Armageddon, and we know the broad definition to the word- MASS DESTRUCTION (shouting capitalization on purpose). But what is so destructive about a place? The word Armageddon is derived from the Hebrew Har Megiddo, which is, according to the Hebrew bible, the place where the final conflict between good and bad, black and white, would occur. So our first word is a place!

How about apocalypse, another word we constantly use to address MASS DESTRUCTION? It was introduced to the English language in the late 14th century, and is derived from the Latin apocalypsis meaning ‘revelation’. The Greek ‘apo’ stands for seeing while calypso stands for ‘what is covered’. So the GreekLatin idea for the end of the world is a revelation, further evolution to the human kind if you will.

How about CATACLYSM, or CATASTROPHE, 2 other ‘shouty’ words? The Latin cata, applicable for both words, means ‘down’ and klyzein means to wash, to clean. The Latin strephein, referring to catastrophe, means to turn, and actually- the sense of a sudden disaster first appeared in 1748!

Looking at the end of the world from the etymological point of view, really gets me up and excited! Looks like we are about to take another step further. What towards? Not sure. But what is sure- we will all be here tomorrow as well!


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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