• irredenta •
ir-rê-dent-ê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A population of people belonging to one culture under the political domination of another.
Notes: Today's Word is an odd little fellow that looks like the plural of a Latin word, like datum : data, medium : media. Well, it isn't. It is a singular noun with a normal plural, irredentas. But it comes as no surprise that the noun derived from irredenta, irredentist, is an oddity too. An irredentist is not a member of an irredenta, but someone who believes that irredentas should be reunited with the nation sharing the same culture with them.
In Play: Perhaps the most famous irredentist military attack under the guise of redeeming an irredenta was Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia that started World War II. Hitler's excuse was to reunite the Sudeten German populations there with Germany. Before the war in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia), Kosovans were mostly an Albanian irredenta in Yugoslavia. Now that Kosovo is independent, the Serbian minority in Kosovo is becoming the irredenta.
Word History: Today's word and its usage came from the Italian phrase Italia irredenta "unredeemed Italy" and referred to those areas inhabited by Italians in other countries, such as Trieste, Corsica, and Dalmatia. The word irredenta was composed by adding the prefix in- "non, un-" to the feminine past participle of the Italian word redimere "to redeem", hence the meaning "unredeemed". The N of the prefix in- automatically became R before verbs beginning on R. The English word redeem comes from the same source. The Latin past participle of the Latin verb redimere, whence Italian inherited its verb, was redemptus "redeemed". It is the root of this word that we see in English redemption, borrowed from Latin redemptio(n). (I would never be able to redeem myself were I to forget to thank William Hupy for suggesting today's internationally relevant Good Word.)
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