More New Free Rice Words VI
Bill Long 8/18/08
Starting With Carina
It happened again, as I was preparing to write today. One of the words on the freerice.com list was carinate. It isn't a very familiar word, but if you know it is derived from the Latin carina, the keel of a boat, you know that carinate or cariniform means "keel-shaped." A keel is the lowest longitudinal timber of a boat. Well, you might ask, what thing other than a keel is keel-shaped? It was when I asked that question that the world began to open up to me again this Monday morning.
As mentioned, carina is the underlying Latin word, a word also used in English to apply to various structures of the form of a keel or ridge. The OED lists five, such as two petals at the base of a papilionaceous corolla or, more familiarly, the median ridge on the sternum of birds. Wherever you see a longitudinal "ridge," you can be sure that you have a carina. But then, I discovered that Carina has been used in English since 1834 to describe a portion of the constellation in the southern hemisphere previously known as the Argo Navis (referring to the mythological ship piloted by Jason). Here is the location:
"Argo Navis lies entirely in the southern hemisphere, east of Canis Major, south of Monoceros and Hydra, largely in the Milky Way...[It] teems with masses of stars. Consequently, astronomers have divided the Argo Navis into three smaller constellations: Puppis, the Stern; Carina, the Keel; and Vela, the Sail. The fourth contellation created of Argo Navis, Malus, the Mast, has fallen into disuse, but still recognized by many astronomers as Argo Navis."
There are currently 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. This site tells us that the IAU now has more than 9,600 members, most of whom have PhDs and all of whom are professional astronomers. Look to the heavens, and you may find your life. You certainly will learn many Greek myths and Latin terms...
From Carina to Careen
But, before leaving carina I need to pause for a second on careen. We know it only as a verb meaning to "rush headlong, hurtle, esp. with an unsteady motion," but this is not its original meaning. In fact, it derived from carina, keel. The first meaning, going back to 1600, is "to turn a ship over on one side for cleaning, caulking, or repairing." This quotation came from the famous Diverse Voyages of Richard Hakluyt: "A fit place to carene the ship." This usage continued until the mid-19th century: "Finding a convenient harbor...he unloaded and careened his vessels." Well, this word almost begs you to look at it in a figurative way. When a person "careens," then, s/he "turns on his/her side" or relaxes. From 1874: "We got him safe to Eskmount..There he is at present, careening, and the ladies take the best care possible of him." "Where shall we careen this year, my dear?" I think we have just made a new friend...
Leaving Carina/Carinate/Cariniform to Cark
It happened again. I couldn't leave carina and its derivatives without first scanning the page, and in the Century my eyes fell on cark. It is a very old word in English and means "a load, burden, weight." Or, figuratively, a "load of care." One thing I didn't know about a cark is that it is an old measure of weight for wool, with a cark equivalent to 1/30 of a sarplar. I wonder if even the most difficult of the SAT analogies (when they had them), would have gone cark is to sarplar as ounce is to XXXX? The OED lists the main entry for sarplar as sarplier, though it can be spelled in about as many ways as you can imagine. It was a "large sack or coarse canvas for wool" or, also, a measure of quantity for wool. It derived from the French serpilliere, packing cloth.
Back to cark. I am much drawn to its figurative use, referring to the cares that sometimes overwhelm us. From the Tale of Gamelyn, a 900-line poem written ca. 1350 which narrates the tribulations of a young man abused by his older brothers (hm...almost any younger sibling could have written this one) and which survives in some MSS of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, we have:
"Now I see that al the cark schal fallen on myn heed."
The word was still in use in the 19th century, as Longfellow wrote:
"And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,/ Quaffing ale from pewter tankards, in the master's antique chair."
The hendiadys cark and care ought to be rediscovered today. Indeed, as I continued studying some uses of cark, I came upon this double hendiadys:
"Hark, my husband, he's singing and hoiting,--and I'm fain to cark and care."
The verb hoit, from which we seem get the word hoyden (a rude, ignorant or awkward fellow; a century later it became associated with a rude or boisterous girl--thus it became another one of those words first associated with manly or male activity or character, such as buxom, and then was taken over by the female gender or, probably more properly said, by male writers who then associated the word almost exclusively with females).
Back to hoit and hoiting for a moment. It means to "indugle in riotous and noisy mirth" or "to romp inelegantly." Sounds like a party is afoot. From 1611: "There he..sings, and hoyts, and revels among his drunken companions." I grew up on Hoyt Street in Darien, Conn. Now I live only two blocks from Hoyt Street in Salem, OR. I wonder if my living situation is gently trying to communicate something to me about the way I ought to try to live my life in the future (more fun, Bill..). Maybe more of us should concentrate on singing and hoiting rather than carking and caring.
Well, I won't start partying until I have finished the next essay...