It’s a fine thing to consider that words that seem to mean exactly the same thing do not really do so, because the shades are different, or one is more formal than another, or one can be used in some cases but not in others, or they bring quite different human worlds into play. Our word today, JOURNEY, is more than a TRIP. You can take a TRIP to Mexico by getting on an airplane and landing in Cancun. But if you JOURNEY to Mexico, you may take a longer while to get there, and when you do arrive, your JOURNEY is not ended, not at all. In some ways it is just beginning, as you try to speak Spanish to the first person you meet, or you smell the dinner in the air in a small village in the mountains, and it is like nothing you have known before. In English, a JOURNEY implies a going-forth of the mind and heart and soul. You don’t go on a JOURNEY to the drive-through fast-food joint.
Something of the original sense of the French word JOURNEE survives in English: it meant the ground you could cover by foot in a single JOUR, a single day. That’s the inner sense of the word. Similarly, a JOURNALIST is supposed to cover what happens DAY to DAY, for the newspapers, which are sometimes called JOURNALS. I’m fonder, though, of a Latin word coined in the nineteenth century to denote the newspaper: EFEMERA, from Greek EPHEMERON, suggesting a creature of a single day, like a May-fly – which in Italian is indeed an EFEMERA.
French JOUR, DAY, comes from the Latin adjective DIURNUS, describing something that takes a day, like the circuit of the sun in the sky. The D followed by the hard Y sound combined for a ZH in French and a soft G sound in Italian: GIORNO, DAY. Now, DIURNUS comes from a simpler adjective, DIUS or DIVUS – SHINING, DIVINE. Our Indo-European ancestors came from the broad steppes of Eurasia, with the wide skies above them, and the bright sun not obstructed by forests and hills. The root of that word went everywhere: to India, where Sanskrit DEVA means GOD; to Russia, where DYEN means DAY; to Wales, where DUW means God and DYDD means DAY; to Greece, where DELOS means CLEAR; to Italy, where DEUS means GOD and DIUS means, as I’ve said, SHINING or DIVINE; and to the Germanic lands, where D hardened to T and we get Old Norse TIVAR, GODS, and Old English TIW, the name of the sky god, preserved in our word TUESDAY. But – English DAY is not related to any of these. The similarity is a sheer coincidence.
But I like to consider that only those people who do believe in and are inspired by the DIVINE really go on a JOURNEY. They alone fling forth their souls toward God, while they are moved by all they see along the road, day by day. Everyone else just goes on a TRIP, and takes photographs.
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