51. Pages 340-350
Bill Long 5/27/05
After the nearly unbridled excitement of pages 320-340, we can settle down in these ten pages and move quickly. Yet there are some terms, like deuteranopia, dharna, diesis and others that are not in regular speech but ought to be known.
Deuteranopia and Other Words
Literally derived from three Greek words meaning "blindness with respect to the second," deuteranopia was one of three terms coined by J. von Kries at the end of the 19th century to describe blindness to one (deuteranopia referred to blindness with respect to green) or more of the three primary colors: red, green, and blue. Hence, someone who suffered from protanopia could not distinguish red and related colors; a deuteranope [the OED knows this word but does not list deuteranopia as a separate entry] is unable to discern green and tritanopia is a very rare condition of blindness with respect to the color blue. The Collegiate only has deuteranopia--for what reason I know not.
Deutzia is named after Jean Deutz, a patron of botanical research (never knew that there were patrons for this kind of work), to describe a genus of the saxifrage framily of shrubs. I need to learn this because in the 2004 Oregon Bee I slipped up on paulownia--a genus of Chinese trees named after a person. A deverbative is a word formed on or derived from a verb. Deverbative only emerged in the early part of the 20th century, not certainly when the phenomenon arose but probably because the field of linguistics was just stretching its muscles and needed vocabulary for its work. A devoir is a duty and dewar is glass named after James Dewar. A dewlap is loose flesh on animal or human throat.
Dharna and Others
The "Dh" words all come from India (I WISH I knew Sanskrit), and dharna is a fast held at the door of an offender in India as an appeal for justice. I suppose it is like the hunger strike in the West, but more specifically in India it was a mode of extorting payment or compliance with a demand. The person sitting would remain at the door until the demand was complied with. This activity is known as "sitting in dharna" and the person in the house was said to be "put in dharna." The earliest Western writer on the idea (1793) says that the concept of dharna may be translated "Caption or Arrest." It is thus like a "house arrest" until the demand of the dharna-sitter is met.
A dhole is a wild dog, and a dhoti is a loincloth. I decided to look up the latter word in the Century, and discovered that it could be spelled four ways, none of which was dhoti! (dhotee, dhoty, dhotie, dotie). The Collegiate neither gives any impression that it could be spelled multiple ways nor does it tell us why its spelling is superior to or preferred over any of the other spellings. Sometimes you think you are getting into a spelling bee in order, finally, to pursue "objective" knowledge. You find, quite to the contrary, that many, many words have more than one spelling today and when you look at it over history, most words have been subject to multiple spellings.
Quickly now, a dhurrie is an Indian cloth or rug, diablerie is sorcery and a diadromous fish is migratory between fresh and salt waters. Why the Collegiate has diallel I probably will never understand. The OED has it, but only has one attested use of it--in the 17th century. Here is the sentence: "As parallels are lines running one by the other without meeting, so Diallels are lines which run one through the other, that is, do cross, intersecate, or cut." The most interesting thing to me about that definition is the word intersecate. Surprisingly, the OED doesn't attest intersecate, though it does have two uses of intersecation.
A Quick Spin through the "Dia's"
So we have diapedesis, which is blood seepage through capillary walls, and diaphoresis, a big word for perspiration, usually induced by artificial means. The Century gives a synonymn for the adjective diaphoretic--sudorific, while the OED does not know diaphoretic though it has a separate entry for sudorific, which it defines as "diaphoretic." A sudorous garment is a sweaty one--but it sounds much more pleasant, doesn't it? Diapir has to do with a mobile core of rock that breaks through brittle overlying rocks, but I don't have any picture of this in my mind at all. A diathesis is a constitutional predisposition or tendency toward diseases. When I grew up in CA we had a swimming pool that had to be treated occasionally with diatomaceous earth. Dichlorvos is an insecticide while a dickcissel is a finch. A diel (DI al) is a 24-hour period.
Let's finish with a mention of diesis. I wanted to do this because the Century definition emphasizes different things than the Collegiate. The Century mentions its connection with Pythagorean music, stressing the difference between a fourth and two major tones, represented by the ration 256:243. But the Collegiate, though aware that there might be a musical meaning in its history, focuses on the definition "double-dagger." A double-dagger is a reference note, a marker for a footnote in books printed before the numbering system entered into common use about 100 years ago. Chuch Zerby has given us an interesting history of the footnote (The Devil's Details: A History of the Footnote, Dec. 2001), but I only want to remark that the "pre-number" footnote convention widely shared had the first footnote on a page be denoted by an asterisk, the second by a dagger, and the third by the double-dagger or diesis. And, once I get into the technical names of diacritical marks, I have to go out with a bang, or interrobang, at least--which is the combination explanation point and question mark, invented in 1962 and still not recognized in the OED, though it is in the Collegiate.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long