The Joy of Language Learning

The Context of the Text

Did you know:
The Latin word texere means to weave. Texture, thus, originally referred to the art of weaving and we now use it in phrases such as this cloth has a fine texture to refer to how it ‘feels’ (against our skin). It is also sometimes used more broadly to mean ‘distinctive quality’, as in the phrase the texture of life in an Indian village; or pattern, as in, the texture of his music. A textured substance, like a roughly woven fabric, has a rough feel.

Texture refers to structure of interwoven fibers or the appearance or feel of a surface
Texture refers to a structure of interwoven fibers or the appearance or feel of a surface
It can also mean the distinctive quality or character of something (as in, the texture of life in an Indian village)
It can also mean the distinctive quality or character of something (as in, the texture of life in an Indian village)

 

 

 

 

 

Texere and related roots later began to be used metaphorically – writing was seen as ‘weaving words into pages’ and writers as ‘word weavers’. Thus written or printed words came to be known as texts and Latin contexere (Latin prefix ‘con-‘ means together: a con-ference, thus, brings people together and con-texere means to ‘weave together’) later evolved into context – part of the text that comes immediately before of after a word or phrase. Thus when someone quotes out of context they are providing no reference to help understand the true meaning of the quote and if we ask ‘in what context’ we want to know ‘in relation to what or under what circumstances’.

Nariman_The State of the Nation
The State of the Nation: In Context of India’s Constitution
Woven Words on a Birch Bark
‘Woven Words’ (text) on a Birch Bark

 

 

 

 

 

Pretext comes from praetexere which literally means to weave in front or to disguise or hide. Thus, if someone asks for a day off on the pretext of being sick they are disguising the real reason. Subtext, similarly, refers to the ‘underlying (thread or) theme’ in a text, which may not be obvious, as in, the subtext of a play or the subtext of a book.

Friedrich Hayek Quote
Friedrich Hayek Quote
How to Train Your Dragon' : A familiar story with smart subtext
How to Train Your Dragon: A familiar story with smart subtext
 

 

 

Some other words related to texere are textile, textual (related to text) and tissue which originally referred to a woven fabric.

Words discussed:
Texture*, Textured*, Text, Context*
Pretext*, Subtext*, Textile, Textual, Tissue

What made you look up the word/s in this post? Did you find the explanations here useful or interesting? Do tell us by leaving a reply below!

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