“Now don’t go all sentimental on us rudyblues.”
What? You want a post on the word sentimental, but I can’t get sentimental? That seems a bit constraining.
“Yes, we realize it’s difficult, but you do remember what happens when you wax nostalgic, don’t you? You get all weepy, and it kind of creeps us out.”
So you’re after an unsentimental post about sentimental? A cold, dispassionate analysis of a warm, passionate expression of sentiment?
“That’s exactly what we’re after! We want sentimental without all the ‘mental’ part.”
Well, if you did your homework, you would realize that that there is no mental in sentimental at all, except by the random order of letters. The word actually derived from the English language habit of adding the suffix “al” to words borrowed from Latin, like autumnal and pastoral.
“Latin schmatin Mr. Smartypants! We think you’re full of it. That wasn’t in any English class we had!”
Yes, that probably wasn’t in Remedial English. The “al” suffix creates a word with the general sense of “like, about, or having the form or character of” the stem word, in this case, sentiment. So just because I’m sentimental does not imply I’m mental. Far from it.
“We’ll be the judge of that, rudyblues. Continue.”
The stem word, sentiment, is another example of a suffix modifying a stem word. The Medieval Latin suffix “mentum”, equivalent to the modern English suffix “ment”, modifying the stem word “sentire”, from the Latin for “to feel”, is used to make a noun from a verb. Thus, “sentire”, to feel, with the suffix “mentum”, becomes the noun “sentimentum”, or sentiment, meaning feeling.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa there rudyblues! We did not sign on for this. That’s enough of those feelings! Jeebus Batman!”
Yeah, I kind of figured that’s how you’d “feel”, pun intended. The Medieval Latin “sentimentum” came about in the early 14th century, and sentimental was around by the mid-18th century. Originally, there was no negative connotation to the word sentimental, but by the end of the century it came to be used to describe someone who had too much sentiment, or who was easily swayed by emotion.
“That’s what we’re talking about, you sentimental old fool!”
Now can I get sentimental?
“Sure, just do it on your own time. Real men don’t have feelings, at least none that we want to hear about.”
Yeah, I thought so.