Building Your Vocabulary One Word at a Time
e mol u ment (e ‘mall ye ment) n, the returns arising from office or employment, wages.
I first encountered this word on a plaque attached to the wall of the Home Economics Building at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds (Hum. Co., CA). In the plaque, they referred to all of the stuff they made from all of the redwood trees they cut down around here as “the emoluments of man.” I like this word because it comes from a French word “emolere”, literally, to grind up, which they certainly did to the redwoods. Emolere comes in turn from a Latin word “emolumentum” or millers fee. Emolument reminds you that work is a grind, that you only get paid if you keep your nose to the grindstone, and that it grinds you down. I hope your emoluments adequately compensate you for your grind.
Wage, on the other hand comes from the French root word “wagier” meaning pledge. Wage shares this root word with the modern word “wager”, basically a bet. When your boss offers you a wage, that’s a bet to him. He’s betting he can make more from your labor than he’s paying you. You, on the other hand, earn that money through your sweat and hard work. The money you get is your emolument.
When bosses (and Government) refer to the money you earn as “wages’ they want you to think of the money you earn at your “grind” as money you won at the track. Like working for a living is tantamount to beating the house at blackjack. So, of course you won’t mind paying taxes on that windfall, and you won’t get bent out of shape when your 401k retirement plan evaporates. Easy come, easy go, right. Those are the rules of the game, you win a few, you lose a few.
Personally, I think the games in this casino are fixed. That’s the fine and course of it. Now you can get back to your grind.