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Saturday: October 1, 2005

Pedantic Etymology

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:56 PM GMT-0500

Mark in Mexico‘s heart is in the right place, but ‘hemoclism’ is not Greek for ‘blood flood’. The first stem should be ‘hemato-‘ (or ‘haemato-‘), not ‘hemo-‘. The second half is also questionable: a klismós is a ‘couch’, not a ‘flood’, so ‘hematoclism’ is out unless you are trying to say ‘blood couch’. ‘Hematoclysm’ is better, but the Greek word for ‘flood, deluge’ is not the simple noun klúsma but the compound kataklusmós. Klúsma means ‘wash’ (the noun), in various senses: either ‘surf’, or ‘sea beach’, or ‘enema’. ‘Hematocataclysm’ would do. If that is too unwieldy, perhaps a ‘hurricane of blood’ would be better: ‘hematothuella’. There are other words for storm, and that is not the only possible metaphor, so something more compact may be possible. Greek and Latin are not always more succinct than English, though the rhyme in ‘blood flood’ is annoying and ‘blood storm’ sounds like one of the more brutal video games.

Strange Customs

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:08 AM GMT-0500

Anyone who watches a lot of old movies knows how acceptable and unquestioned smoking was in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Some scenes still come as a bit of shock. In Dinner at Eight (1933), a doctor smokes in his office while seeing a patient. (I hope he doesn’t do that for those with asthma or emphysema.) In Kid Glove Killer (1942), the proto-CSI and his comely assistant smoke in the laboratory while working. Even if they knew nothing of long-term health effects, I would have thought they would know that smoking would (a) contaminate their hair samples and other scientific clues, and (b) quite possibly blow them up, what with the various chemicals all around the room.