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From where you sit, do you understand seated origin? The reason for said sitting? If not, you soon will. Couch etymology comes from two things: first, cows were used as the sole material source for early manufacturing runs, thus the …...

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Holy Cow - handgezeichnete Illustration mit Pastellkreide in türkis

Filed Under , on January 26th, 2019

Couch Etymology

By Seth Kabala

From where you sit, do you understand seated origin? The reason for said sitting? If not, you soon will.

Couch etymology comes from two things: first, cows were used as the sole material source for early manufacturing runs, thus the first part of the word. Second, it caused cows pain to be killed and skinned, thus the last part and the shared sound after the first letter. Thus ends the brief history of couch etymology, and thus we introduce a moratorium on the word thus.

Idea source: a buddy and I had had a couple beers and got to speculating about the origin of the word couch. Not a mythical furniture piece that speaks and doubles as a thesaurus, but the defined term couch.

When I first jotted down this idea, I labeled it an alcohol-fueled nonsense nugget. Because of this haze, the idea was unlikely to contain redeeming qualities, right? Good thing for the writing process.

I rarely conceive an idea, develop, edit, and publish in one session. This aversion to all-in-one publishing sessions has more to do with refereeing the noise level in our home (rivals the loudest A7X concert) and trying to keep up with our ever-expanding schedules and ever-expanding device count on our home network than it does with my inability to keep my Ass In Seat (AIS). Still, AIS is elusive.

Consider the AIS concept. If you’re a budding writer, it will serve you well to adhere to this simple rule: there is a direct relationship between how much time your ass is in your seat (your composition chair, bench, cliffside, wing walk, or whatever surface on which you rest your behind and gain purchase so as to free the mind to engage in writing) and both how much you produce and the quality of your production.

Some days you’ll write little. Others, better warn the citizens in low-lying Wordstown, because the dam done just broke. Over time, as you gain skill and confidence, you get to know your averages. You know how long it takes to first produce material and then make it readable—for other people.

The best writers in the world know this principle and adhere to it. Don’t expect to get by on your smarts. Oh, I don’t have to practice. I don’t do second and third and eleventh drafts. I only write something if it’s already the final version. Oh, yeah. Fuck that. And good luck with trying to short-cut your development. That’s not the only thing you’ll short-cut.

AIS is important. Whether you’re blessed with a quiet house and can log long hours of uninterrupted time, or you’re like me, blessed with WWII planes that are coming in for a crash landing–ALL THE TIME–and you need to write in fits and starts, keep tabs on your overall AIS stats. More is always better, and such was the case with this idea nugget that I first dismissed as nonsense.

It is not nonsense. It is totally common sense. Language evolves, you see. Take our street in Portland, for example. It’s called Couch St, but it’s pronounced “Cooch,” as in coochie, coochie, coo. Never mind the weirdness of using a slang term for a woman’s sex to comfort and elicit laughter in babies. This “Cooch” was a person’s name, I’ve been told. What’s the etymology of this surname? Beats me. All I know is that the family was named “Cooch” and did something worthy of having a Portland (actually Gresham, per plat map, but who cares about Postal Service accuracy, right?) street named after them.

They went away from the traditional pronunciation of couch. The reasons are unimportant. What matters is they did it, and it stuck. I’m using the same logic for reimagining the meaning of the couch furniture piece.

This reimagination happened because of the creative wonders that alcohol unleashed and because of the application of AIS. So sit on your couch, or remain seated, and thank me that you were first in line for the couch etymology revolution.

I accept.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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