Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt
This is a word with which most of us are familiar, but I was curious about its etymology. You know I’m a word nerd, right? I like to know where words came from, and the internet makes it very easy to find out.
Here’s what Etymology Online has to say:
capable (adj.)1560s, from Middle French capable or directly from Late Latin capabilis “receptive; able to grasp or hold,” used by theologians, from Latin capax “able to hold much, broad, wide, roomy;” also “receptive, fit for;” adjectival form of capere “to grasp, lay hold, take, catch; undertake; take in, hold; be large enough for; comprehend,” from PIE *kap- “to grasp” (source also of Sanskrit kapati “two handfuls;one Greek kaptein “to swallow, gulp down;” Lettish kampiu “seize;” Old Irish cacht “servant-girl,” literally “captive;” Welsh caeth “captive, slave;” Gothic haban “have, hold;” Old English hæft “handle,” habban “to have, hold,” Modern English have). Related: Capably.
Boiling that all down to one concept, it seems the most important connotation would be that of being able to grasp, hold, or understand a concept. A newborn infant is not capable of building a vocabulary, but by the time that infant has discovered his munchy little toes, he also shows a clear response to words he hears frequently. He is capable of grasping a concept, of responding with facial expressions and verbal jabbering.
I believe that we sadly underestimate a child’s ability to grasp concepts and ideas. They are a lot smarter than we think they are. They are capable of manipulating their parents and especially their grandparents by the time they are between six and 12 months old. At that age, they are keenly observant of the adults around them, and have learned how to elicit responses from those adults.
We think we’re training them. The truth is, in that first year of life, they’re training us. “Come when I cry. I need something, and it’s your job to supply that need.” It’s a lesson we learn, really, within the first fews weeks after we bring the adorable little tyrants home. The thing we don’t always learn quickly enough is the difference between what they actually need and what they simply want.
If we are incapable of learning when to say “No” to these little creatures, then by the time they are 20 or so they truly believe it is their right to have whatever it is they want. When someone does say, emphatically, “NO!” they can’t handle it at all and melt down into puddles of helplessness and temper They are incapable of grasping the concept that they are NOT entitled to everything, anything, all the time, on demand.
Well, this has turned in a different direction altogether from what I had in mind. Seems I’m not capable of thinking in straight lines this morning; I’m just tossing out whatever pops into my head.
This might be a good time to stop.