Friday, April 25, 2014

A-Z Challenge. V is for.... Volk?

Americans have their common generic name, 'Smith'. Germans have their common name, 'Volk'. I can always recognize upon introduction a person that speaks German when they pronounce the word as 'Folk', which is the correct German pronunciation.

The etymology of the word, 'volk' is interesting because it has several derivations. The noun 'volk' is the generic German and Dutch word for 'people' in the ethnic sense. The Old English noun 'folc' was derived from the an early German term, and was used in reference to 'common people'. Hence, the modern English word 'folk' has the same meaning and pronunciation of the German 'volk'.

The German 'volk' is now used often in compound words, specifically determining 'of the common people'. The most well-known example is the popular little car Volkswagon, literally translated as 'the people's car'. Another example is the 'Volkswalk' (a common event of public walking groups).

Of course, it also is a common surname. In fact, it is my family name and I wear it proudly. And there are other Volk's in the American science community, such as a a chemist at UTHSC in Houston, TX, a biologist at SUNY-ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY), and an anesthesiologist in Oregon (whom I met while I lay on a gurney waiting for anesthesia).

I know of three scientists in my own extended family: My father (biochemistry), Sherry (retired biology teacher), and myself (biologist). Considering the large number of siblings in past Volk generations from which I descend from (10-12 siblings recorded in several generations), there may be other distantly-related 'Volk' scientists out there we are not aware of. Maybe we are the 'common people' scientists.

Then again, 'volk' is also Slovenian for 'wolf'. That could explain many things. ;) Perhaps wolves and people have a long shared history together.

Hats off to all you 'Volk's out there!

Da bo vôlk sit in koza cela!

Wolves could be people's best friend. Volk's in kind.
"Wolves had a pre-existing capacity to learn from social partners — and that humans capitalized on that capacity more than 18,000 years ago."