Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Oct 22, 2009

How to Eat an Elephant ?

In yesterday's post ( Paanchvi Pass ), we encountered a very  monstrous, artificially created word - the longest so far in English - pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis
of the size of a baby elephant or an anaconda.

If it sounded frightening, do not worry – it is just a paper elephant. You know its meaning – almost – if not fully. And there is a master key to handle all such paper monsters & paper anacondas. Just go to its root  ( etymologically) !

In a word power book by Ms Ida L Ehrlich , published in the 1970s , this word was mentioned as the longest and , surprisingly, it has retained its position in 2009 also ! Is not this stagnancy a great insult to human creativity which has remained sluggish during last 30+ years, at least in this regard?

Let us start handling  it like we handle a jumbo-sized pizza with special scissors.

When we do that, it  will look a little more manageable :

pneumono + ultra + micro + scop +ic +  silico + volcano + coni (konis) + osis

Piece by piece, it appears little more familiar.

Pneumono comes from the root pneumon= lungs, breathing  ( we know pneumonia, pneumatic, etc);
Ultra is a prefix = beyond, exceeding ( we know ultramodern, ultrasonic, etc);
 +micro comes from the root mikros= minute, small by comparison ( we know microbiology, microphone, microscope, etc);
 +scop comes from the root scopos= watch, see ( we know horoscope, telescope, etc);
 +ic is a suffix=like, nature of ( we know acidic, majestic, poetic, realistic, etc);
 + silico comes from the root silicis= flint( we know silica, silicone, silicate, , etc);
 + volcano comes from the root volcan, vulcan= volcano( we know the god of fire Vulcan, vulcanizing, , etc);
+ coni comes from the root konis= dust ( we know koniscope, coniosis,, etc);

And finally,

osis is a suffix= disease (we know hypnosis, psoriasis, neurosis, elephantiasis, etc.) 
PS: Do not be perplexed if I tell that some of these roots are Latin & Greek, etc.

So now we know that it SIMPLY  means
“A lung disease caused by inhaling dust like silicon and volcanic dust particles so minute that in order to see them, a microscope which exceeds the ordinary is needed. (copyright by the publishers of Ms. Ehrlich)

Language is like a river
It flows freely and gives its sweet nectar to every one  who chooses to fill up his glass along its long, winding path.
For example, if I had a cousin who lives in Spain, the bottle of shampoo she will gift to me will
look some what like this and please glance at its lable.     
                                                                                                                                                                                                            It reads “ champu” which in Spanish means "shampoo" which  word has travelled a long way. Want to know the its arduous journey? 

It came - all the way -   from Anglo-Indian shampoo,
from Hindi champo, imperative of champna "to press, knead the muscles,"
perhaps from Sanskrit . capayati”pounds, kneads."
The enjoy the  "elephant"  !    bon appétit !  


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