Archive for the ‘Greek’ Category

Obscure plurals of octopus (and rhinoceros)

November 21, 2023

A brief, somewhat goofy spin-off from my 11/18 posting “The visiopun”, about plurals of the English noun octopus, which entertained mostly octopi (borrowing the Latin plural, but giving it an English spelling-pronunciation /áktǝpàj/) and octopuses (with the default plural suffix for English nouns), but also entertaining octopodes (borrowed from Classical Greek, so learnèd and obscure). The posting inspired a Facebook exchange today, starting with:

— Gadi Niram: I love the [four-syllable] plural octopodes, but it’s really not suited to most communication.

To which I replied:

— AZ >  GN (amplifying on GN’s reservations): It has the primary accent on the second syllable: òctópodes, like àntípodes. … At first I was hoping for óctopòdes or òctopódes, cleaving more closely to the accent pattern of óctopùs. But reality is weirder than that.


wine : oenophile :: beer : X

September 26, 2023

We start with wine, a drink whose enthusiasts, knowledgable fans, aficionados, connoisseurs, and the like are legion, so not surprisingly we have a name for them, with alternative spellings: oenophiles / enophiles. Beer is equally appreciated and enjoyed by many, but there are relatively few beer connoisseurs. But, even if there are few of them, they presumably have a name — maybe an obscure one, but a name nevertheless. What’s the solution to this proportional equation?

wine : oenophile :: beer : X

It turns out that there are (at least) two solutions for X, one Latin-based (like vinophile for wine, which is so rare that it doesn’t make it even into the OED), the other Greek-based like oenophile (Greek to accord with the Greek second element –phile). You’re unlikely to have come across either of them, but the second, Greek-based one, is especially delicious for me, because it’s a Z -word (like Zwicky), and because it came to me through a Facebook friend, Martyn Cornell.


The Z of death

March 12, 2022

From Andras Kornai on Facebook today:

AK: As they say on Sesame Street: brought to you by the letter Z!

(#1) A tank (Andras says it’s a Pantsir missile system) with the glyph Z on it — not a letter in the Cyrillic alphabet (in which both Ukrainian and Russian are written) and now symbolizing the Russian iron fist of death

Livia Polanyi [pursuing the Sesame Street theme]: Zombie zombie zombie starts with Z

AZ > LP: The letter Z long ago became part of my identity, a symbol of who I was. Now it’s become the equivalent of a swastika, and I feel that I have personally been assaulted, dirtied, and shamed. (I manage to surmount Z is for Zombie as just a piece of cultural silliness. But the Z on the tanks is, literally, dead serious.)


Time, and intellectual community

January 7, 2021

In the latest (December 2020) issue of the journal Language (vol. 96, no. 4), Brian Joseph’s “What is time (and why should linguists care about it)?”, an article that originated as his presidential address at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in New Orleans on 4 January 2020. The article (abstract below) combines broad humanistic scholarship with fine-grained philological and dialectological research on the Greek language.

Meanwhile, the article is thick with thanks to all sorts of people, a characteristic that is not just personal niceness — though in some cases it is certainly that — but reflects a view about the nature of intellectual community.


Fear of furniture

July 23, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist strip (Wayno’s title: “Out of Frame”):

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

And now we’re in the world of phobias, extreme or irrational fears of or aversions to particular things. People are exceptionally fond of finding or inventing unusual phobias — and, correspondingly, of finding or inventing unusual philias (attachments, especially sexually fetishistic attachments, to particular things).

Fear of furniture, as it turns out, is real but rare. There is even a celebrity afflicted with it.


What did the Cretan bull say to Hercules when the hero tamed him?

July 10, 2018

μ μ

(but the bull was real butch about it, and anyway that’s the Greek Way)

Meanwhile, the Greek letter mu is wide open for cow cartoons, like this recent one (from February 1st) by Scott Hilburn, passed on to me by Facebook friends: