Wednesday, July 27, 2005

nuntiorum errare est?

For those of you who take pleasure in the endless errors that plague purveyors of print, UPI writer James J. Kilpatrick has collected a bunch but committed an error of his own:

This past December, two AP writers provided a feature story about a midnight hike through a botanical garden. "At the end of the trail was a beautiful opening in the canapi." An opening in the what? Perhaps those hungry campers saw cheese and caviar. The word the writers wanted was "canopy," a noun rooted in ancient Greek and Latin. The plural "canopies" may be purchased in grocery stores throughout the world.

I sent him the following:

"The word the writers wanted was "canopy," a noun rooted in ancient Greek and Latin."

Which is it?

The answer is Greek. The Latin form is merely a transliteration of the Greek (drawn from the word for 'gnat' or 'mosquito,' which means literally 'cone face'). An example of a noun rooted in ancient Greek *and* Latin is 'television,' the second element presumably drawn from Latin because '-scope' was already taken.

I think now tht 'needle-face' would have been more to the point.

I can't think of any other words at the moment derived from both languages, so if you can please leave a comment.


Alun said...

Sociology and a few more are at the Wikipedia.

Bill Jennings said...

"Automobile" is the other standard example, but I'm sure there are plenty of -science and -ology compounds that come from both Latin and Greek.

R M Bragg said...


eric said...

my favorite--


Paul said...

HOMOSEXUALITY of course, coined by the German lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1864. He later was the editor of the all-Latin periodical Alaudae (1889-1895).