You say Wica, I say Wicca…

14 02 2008

…and the dyspeptic debate rumbles on with the usual Wice / Wicca / Witch-a debates. It is really something that riles me.

As far as I’m concerned, Wicca is a new word, not an old one; its pronunciation is with a hard ‘C’ as in WICK-a. Its definition is also argued about (of course) but there’s no long lineage or ancient ‘lost’ way to pronounce this word. Again, if you say there is, I doubt it!

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ps because I’m  CONSTANT digger, I’ve been casting about on this one. So humble pie frontload: it’s Middle English in origin. See this, from The American Heritage Dictionary of the Enlgish Language Edition Four, 2000:

 Wicca, witch, from Old English wicca, sorcerer, wizard (feminine wicce, witch), from Germanic *wikkjaz, necromancer (< “one who wakes the dead”).

Which is good to know and you learn something new every day! You’d think I would have thought of the dictionary but it seems not 🙂

So the word meant witch, it had a masculine and a feminine.

But, just like at school, when my English teacher insisted that ‘questionnaire’ was pronounced ‘KEST-ee-on-air’ because it was originally a French word, I have a problem.

Just because the word hails from the far reaches of the English language, does it’s usage and pronunciation have to remain static? It must be a rule of English that the very reverse is true. See Bill Bryson’s (no, really, it’s wonderful) Mother Tongue.

Perhaps the key is to avoid any and all handles, monikers, politically-laden words? So what then will we do for a name?

Perhaps, and this would be great, it’s all in the interpretation. The word ‘Christian’ covers a multitude of sins, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s not an accurate name, it can’t possibly cover all the nuances, but it works because people need a box to put you into. Human nature; irritating, but universal.

Witch would do; HedgeWitch is better; this is what works for me. I still say Wicca is a new word – not in its etymology or its historical meaning, but in its modern usage. It no longer means ‘witch’; its connotations are a great deal more abstract and complex.

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