Archive for the ‘Language and medicine’ Category

The predictable blend error

March 24, 2020

It was bound to happen: the parts of

COVID-19 and coronavirus

were going to get mixed, to yield

CORVID-19

And, yes, then we see ravens, ravens of death.

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coronteaus

March 22, 2020

… that is, coronovirus portmanteaus (where the underlined n is the overlap shared by the two contributing words). A modest collection from recent days.

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Golcorona

March 21, 2020

The art of the pandemic continues at Vadim Temkin’s CGI atelier, with Golconda 2020, an homage to Magritte (on Facebook yesterday):


(#1) They way we live now

A many-depthed airscape of naked young men (with modesty hands) and fuzzy coronavirus molecules.

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Buzz me, baby

March 19, 2020

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes re-run strip, on Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs (CFSBs), which offer “100% of the daily recommended allowance of caffeine”:


(#1) Just in case you had a fleeting moment of wondering about it, there is no caffeine RDA (recommended dietary allowance — recommended by the US National Research Council); the RDAs are for nutrients, and caffeine is not a nutrient

C&H Sugar Bomb strips. Hummingbird metabolism. The getting-high sense of the noun buzz and its verbing. The near-instant buzz of concentrated caffeine. Adalbert Stifter’s 1845 novella Bergkristall.

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Tragedies of the pandemic

March 6, 2020

(Penises play a significant role in this posting, so it might not be to everyone’s taste.)

We regret to report the end of Lord Alfred Douglas, famed devotee of fellatio. Yes, it’s

(A) goodbye to Bosie, the queen of coronas

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Morning tum

March 3, 2020

(There will be penis allusions, but nothing actually raunchy.)

My morning names of 2/26, which arrived three in a bunch, all tum-words, all body-related, but in two different ways:

(a) noun tumor, a tissue growth

(b) adj. tumid, enlarged or distended (as applied to erect penises in particular, but to other things as well)

(c) adj. tumescent, ditto, but more strongly evoking penises

(a) has a somewhat medical tone, but has been taken into everyday usage. The other two are elevated in tone, distanced from carnality; they sound literary or technical. When I came fully to consciousness, I realized that all three traced back to the Latin tum– stem in tumere ‘to swell’. It’s all about swelling; (a) has gone in one direction of semantic specialization, (b) and (c) in another.

And then, of course, there turned out to be more, stuff I hadn’t anticipated at all: the nouns tumulus ‘ancient burial ground’ (they are mounds) and tumult ‘loud noise, disorder’ (the sound rises).

Where will it end? Is a tummy so called because the bellies of babies are often rounded and the bellies of pregnant women are distended? (No. So the antacid Tums is irrelevant to this story.) What about the bodyparts scrotum and rectum, or even the proper name Tatum, suggesting Channing Tatum and his impressive endowment? (No, a thousand times, no. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for having suggested it.)

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Where your personalities go when you’re having sex

February 27, 2020

Will McPhail (in a New Yorker “Daily Shouts” piece on 7/1/18) thinks they socialize pleasantly with one another — have a coffee together, play pingpong, eat hot dogs, shoot some hoops — while speculating wryly about how you’re managing without them and fretting poignantly about when they can get back to helping you through your lives.

All about sex, but with two feet as the only bodyparts depicted and the verb bounce as the only sexually tinged vocabulary. Unfolding in a cartoon of ten gentle, unhurried panels featuring two wraith-like personalities, one blue-green, one red-purple.

(After the McPhail I’ll write a bit about sexual ecstasy as an altered state of consciousness, with a link to some decidedly hard-core writing about sex at the gay baths, but with no actual raunch here.)

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Medical news not for penises

January 30, 2020

(Plenty of talk about male genitals. Not particularly salacious, but some might prefer to avoid this material.)

The term is osteopenia, which I briefly had hopes would combine the stems osteo– ‘bone’ and peni– ‘penis’ and so mean something like ‘hard penis, erection, boner’ (As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog, I’m fond of penises. For some guys, it’s sports cars; for me, it’s penises.) . But alas, no. From NOAD:

noun osteopenia: reduced bone mass of lesser severity than osteoporosis. ORIGIN 1960s: from osteo– and Greek penia ‘poverty’.

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Not demented yet!

September 19, 2019

Facebook exchange on the 13th with John Singler about my most recent wave of physical afflictions, with John providing sympathetic commentary. Part of my response:

… yes, I’m a giant compendium of alarming conditions and ailments. … Meanwhile, having tended someone through dementia into death makes me constantly fearful that I am myself slipping away without realizing it.

For some time now, my slogan for my physical travails has come from Monty Python’s Mary, Queen of Scots: NOT DEAD YET! Now thinking of adding NOT DEMENTED YET! — while I search constantly for evidences that I’m still well plugged in (just very, um, odd).

I am abnormally good at counting backward from 100 by 7s, having been through this diagnostic item with Jacques, and some other patients, many times. So that’s of no use.

But on the 14th, Stephanie Smith gave me a chance to show off my chops, with this appeal:

Saturday night at the office because these files won’t resolve themselves and I have anxious comrades to check in with before I take a week off. Send revolutionary vibes.

I got five revolutionary vibes for her, right off the bat, without having to do a search, and immedately posted four of them (discarding “You say you want a revolution / Well, you know / We all want to change the world” [Beatles, White Album, “Revolution”] because it was too unsubtle, actually used the word revolution crucially). Felt clever and thoroughy undementic, or at least not yet dementic.

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Revisiting 35: the protuberant acromion

September 16, 2019

A few days back, an inquiry into a bodypart of personal interest to me: my 9/14/19 posting “Clavicular knobs”, in which these bony protuberances were illustrated on the body of a Scruff guy “Ricardo”. Ricardo’s photo cropped to focus on his shoulder handles:


(#1) Ricardo’s very visible clavicles, aka collar bones, terminating on either side in bony protrusions — an anatomical feature shared by my first male lover Danny and my husband-equivalent Jacques

I noted that clavicular knobs seemed to be very rare, even in lean-bodied men with very noticeable clavicles; and that Danny and I each believed we once knew a name for them but now we couldn’t recall it (or them).

First to arrive on Facebook with some nomenclatural clarity was Chuk Craig, who supplied the term acromion (Gk. ‘top of the shoulder’). Which led to the relevant joint, the AC, acromioclavicular, joint; to separated shoulders; and, in other directions, towards anatomical rarities (like protuberant acromia) and the psychology of perception and attention (if you’ve read my earlier posting, you’ve probaby been noticing clavicles a lot).

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