Final Word About Words: Dancing to the Same Tune

The late Fanus Rautenbach, well-known South African humourist, who was once voted the biggest legend of Afrikaans radio, spent most weekends of his final years with us at our home in Cape Town. He shared with us a love for the power and rich treasures of words - especially the additional layers of meaning that often lurk behind their origins and history. Often one of us would say: I wonder where that word or that expression comes from? This was usually followed by each one of us speculating and guessing. Next we would dive into dictionaries, scratch around on the Internet and other sources to see who was the closest to the truth. Sometimes we were close or even on the mark, but more often than not we were pleasantly surprised by the results. Words and expressions so often testify to a heritage of cultural interaction between people and peoples. Looking at their origins, we discovered that we are more often dancing to the same tune across racial, language and cultural divides than we realise. And that is how it all started when looking for something lighter to go with the weekly electronic newsletter, Leadership Intelligence Bulletin. The column Final word, with a mostly humorous cartoon to go with it, was born. This is a collection of the first 50 columns published. It is immense fun for to share this joint project us each week. We hope that you will also share in some of this fun and that it will stimulate your own curiosity to peep behind many of the words we use every day without thinking twice about where they come from. We are grateful to colleagues Jimmy Thomas and Tania Griffin, who each week edit the column and ensure that we do not inflict too much pain on the English language, and to Cape Media Corporation, publisher of Leadership magazine, for allowing us to do what we love most.