personare, to sound through

the word “person” is derived from the latin personare, a combination of two word stems: the prefix per-, meaning “through,” and the verb sonare, “to sound.”

personare, to sound through.

this implies that the word person is not a static noun, but has its origins instead in movement, in a verb — as a process of sounding through. rather than think of the person as an object — a thing— its etymological origins suggest that it was conceived of quite differently — more like the sound of a musical instrument being played. not the instrument itself, mind you, but the process of it being played.
examining more deeply the implications embedded in its ancient linguistic origin begins to unfurl a nuanced, expansive and even metaphysical basis at the root of the seemingly mundane word person. leave it to the ancients to hide such a poetic notion inside a word that these days, we wouldn’t normally give a second thought to.

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