Sunday, September 4, 2011

The origins of hospitality

Today hospitals are run like corporations and there is a "hospitality industry", which focusses on pampering wealthy customers. It is interesting to consider the origins of the relevant words.
According to the book, Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer
Hospitality is rooted in the word hospital, which comes from two Greek words meaning "loving the stranger". It evoved to mean "house for strangers" and later came to be known as a place of healing.
Wikipedia gives the etymology of hospital
During the Middle Ages hospitals served different functions to modern institutions, being almshouses for the poor, hostels for pilgrims, or hospital schools. The word hospital comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium came to signify hospitality, that is the relation between guest and shelterer, hospitality, friendliness, hospitable reception. .... Hospes is thus the root for the English words host (where the p was dropped for convenience of pronunciation) hospitalityhospicehostel and hotel

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