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#24161 - 03/22/01 10:24 AM Epidemic?
Anonymous
Unregistered


A friend of mine brought up an excellent point today about the news media's refusal
to call the foot-and-mouth outbreak an "epizootic," preferring instead to misuse "epidemic?"

thoughts? is this only an US'n reporting error?




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#24162 - 03/22/01 12:58 PM Re: Epidemic?
Hyla Offline
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My thoughts on the matter are limited to the following:

1. I am very grateful to you for having exposed me to this great word, bordering on the onomatopoetic.
2. The US media probably don't know no better, and expect the US'n public to be just as ignorant (as I was just moments ago).
3. I heard a third thought, but have forgotten it.

Hyla


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#24163 - 03/22/01 01:47 PM Re: Epidemic?
Faldage Offline
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3. I heard a third thought, but have forgotten it.

I couldn't fail to disagree with you less, Hyla.


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#24164 - 03/22/01 02:01 PM Re: Epidemic?
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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. The US media probably don't know no better, and expect the US'n public to be just as ignorant (as I was just moments ago).

It ain't just US'ns wot haven't herd of no epizootic. For me, it's a candidate for tsuwm's "risible" thread, I can't take it seriously, it sounds funny.


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#24165 - 03/22/01 02:01 PM Re: Epidemic?
Hyla Offline
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For y'all that subscribe to tsuwm's exotic word service, do check out today's issue.

And kudosissimo to bridget96, for contributing a word that was so quickly grabbed up by our resident verbiphage.


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#24166 - 03/22/01 02:08 PM Re: Epidemic?
Anonymous
Unregistered


thanks for the kudos, but it's due instead to my friend Duncan.

i did forward the wwftd to him, hoping it'll finally inspire his membership at AWADtalk. i think he'd love it here.


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#24167 - 03/22/01 02:28 PM Re: Epidemic?
Hyla Offline
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Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
3. I heard a third thought, but have forgotten it.

I couldn't fail to disagree with you less, Hyla.

Thank you very little, estimado Sr. Faldaje (I think).


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#24168 - 03/22/01 03:45 PM Re: Epidemic?
wwh Offline
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It is simply stupid to call the infection of many animals an "epidemic". The proper word is indeed "epizootic". Some people just don't know the difference between "people" and "animals". Just as stupid, I have seen slaughtering animals because of disease called "depopulating".
Hell, I learned the word "epizootic" from reading the Uncle Wiggly stories when I was five years old.


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#24169 - 03/22/01 03:56 PM Re: Epidemic?
Anonymous
Unregistered


It is simply stupid to call the infection of many animals an "epidemic".

at the risk of sounding philopolemic, (or - worse - to bring on another onslaught of pythonisms) i'd say that them's fightin' words, dear bill, considering the posts that came above!


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#24170 - 03/22/01 04:14 PM Uncle Wiggly
wwh Offline
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How many of us remember the Uncle Wiggly stories, from which I learned the word "epizootic" over seventy five years ago? How many can remember the three villains, and what they were trying to get from Uncle Wiggly?


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#24171 - 03/22/01 04:25 PM Re: Uncle Wiggly
of troy Offline
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My kids were given an Uncle WIggly book when they started to read-- one in which Uncle Wiggly get an upset stomach, and takes some peppermint oil tonic to sooth his stomach-- I was very happy with this book, since one of our "home remedies" for car sickness was sucking on a peppermint candy--
But i had not heard of Uncle Wiggly until they received the book-- and never heard of any one who knew them or remembered the stories fondly till your post, Bill.

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#24172 - 03/22/01 04:31 PM Re: Uncle Wiggly
tsuwm Offline
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tar, baby!


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#24173 - 03/22/01 04:51 PM Re: Uncle Wiggly
wwh Offline
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Thank you, Uncle Remus.


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#24174 - 03/22/01 05:17 PM Re: Epidemic/epizootic et.al.
wow Offline
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The discussion re epidemic (spread of disease among humans) and epizootic (spread of disease among animals) brings up a point I'd like your opinions on.
Autopsy refers to post mortem examination of humans.
Now, I learned a post mortem on an animal is properly called a necropsy.
However the SOED CD I have refers necropsy to autopsy and makes no mention of animals.
My Veterinarian concurs that necropsy is correct usage.
What about the complete OED ... any help out there?
wow


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#24175 - 03/22/01 06:18 PM Re: Epidemic/epizootic et.al.
Hyla Offline
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I'll type fast in the hope of getting a word in before tsuwm, so forgive typos.

I think a necropsy is the postmortem examination of any creature, and that, if autopsy is really understood to mean a postmortem exam of a human, it would be a particular kind of necropsy. Necropsy may have just been adopted by the vet trade.

Oddly, in my little desk dictionary, autopsy is defined as "the act of seeing with one's own eyes." Perhaps it's related to seeing with one's own eyes how the deceased really died, rather than trusting the widow who collected on the huge life insurance policy or the guy with the smoking gun running away screaming "Finally, finally! Mwahahaha..."


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#24176 - 03/22/01 06:28 PM Re: Epidemic/epizootic et.al.
wwh Offline
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Dear Hyla: I would have made this a private post, except that I would not want anyone to think I would accept without friendly correction your hasty expression "vet trade." The veterinarians of today are every bit as well educated and trained as physicians, and just as vital in the research into the cause and cure of many diseases. They are justly regarded as a profession.


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#24177 - 03/22/01 07:42 PM Re: Epidemic/epizootic et.al.
tsuwm Offline
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>your hasty expression "vet trade."

see what happens in the "rush to compete" hyla?

as to the question of what the OED has to say, I'd quote it all, but the upshot is that autopsy and necropsy are pretty much interchangeable in their eyes (and in the citations). (the first sense of autopsy is "Seeing with one's own eyes, eye-witnessing; personal observation or inspection"; the first sense of necropsy is "a post-mortem examination, an autopsy" -- no special limitations.)


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#24178 - 03/22/01 10:39 PM Foot to hoof
BlanchePatch Offline
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Posts: 76
Loc: New York City
I've been wondering whether foot-and-mouth is the same disease as hoof-and-mouth. If so, why have I only heard of the latter in the last year? It does seem that all the animals that get it are hooved. (Or is it hoofed?)


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#24179 - 03/22/01 11:31 PM Re: Foot to hoof
tsuwm Offline
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hoof-and-mouth is synonymous with foot-and-mouth, could be regional differences -- or maybe hoof-and-mouth got a bad reputation from Paul Newman in "Hud" and Bill Cosby (obscure-comedy-bit-reference-of-the-week) -- or maybe we should just call it aftosa or aphthous fever.


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#24180 - 03/23/01 04:26 AM Re: Foot to hoof
Capital Kiwi Offline
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Obviously the use of autopsy instead of necropsy and epidemic instead of epizooic is one of those rare instances where English uses one word when many would do ...

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#24181 - 03/23/01 04:56 PM Re: Foot to hoof
Jazzoctopus Offline
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I've been wondering whether foot-and-mouth is the same disease as hoof-and-mouth

I think it was originally hoof-and-mouth, because it only had to do with animals, but them when humans got sick they decided that foot-and-mouth would be more apposite because humans don't have hooves.

On second thought that doesn't make much sense because feet have nothing to do with humans getting infected, oh well.


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#24182 - 03/23/01 05:22 PM Re: Foot to hoof
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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I think it was originally hoof-and-mouth, because it only had to do with animals, but them when humans got sick they decided that foot-and-mouth would be more apposite because humans don't have hooves.

In an ABC new bulletin, Peter Jennings explained it as a UK/US variant thing - "hoof-and-mouth" = N.America, "foot-and-mouth" = everyone else. Also, for what it's worth, there is apparently only one recorded case of a human ever getting sick from the disease. Addendum After reading Bridget's post, I thought I had better expand on the previous statement. A BBC bulletin said that in the UK, there has only ever been one recorded case of a human geting sick from F&M.



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#24183 - 03/23/01 05:23 PM Re: Foot to hoof
tsuwm Offline
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(obscure-comedy-bit-reference-of-the-week)

[since nobody asked, here it is] back in the days when "Hud" was in first run release, Cosby was doing stand-up comedy and his take on the scene in the movie where the cattle were herdling towards oblivion went something like this:

cow1: hey man, where we goin?
cow2: goin' to get shot
cow1: shot?! how come?
cow2: we got hoof-and-mouth
cow1: what's that?
cow2: noticed that white stuff 'round your mouth?
cow1: yeah...
cow2: that's hoof-and-mouth

I can't remember where he went with this, or why this much stuck with me... probably had something to do with the bovine drawl he put into it.


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#24184 - 03/23/01 05:30 PM Re: Foot to hoof
Anonymous
Unregistered


I think it was originally hoof-and-mouth, because it only had to do with animals, but them when humans got sick they decided that foot-and-mouth would be more apposite because humans don't have hooves.

as i understand it, people can indeed get infected but the infection is temporary and mild and is not considered a public health problem. the disease gets its name from the blisters that appear on infected animals' tongues, teats and hooves.

On second thought that doesn't make much sense because feet have nothing to do with humans getting infected, oh well.

Existing lesions on a human's foot could cause him to contract the infection, as could inhalation, exposure to the virus in laboratory conditions, or drinking infected milk, but not by eating infected meat.



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#24185 - 03/23/01 05:32 PM Re:epizootic
wwh Offline
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While it may well be that the newspapers will continue to call the hoof-and-mouth disease "epidemic", as linguaphiles we should not cave in to them. As lovers of words, we want to know their correct meanings, and teach others how to use them correctly. We should not take lightly the corruption of "decimate" nor the corruption of "epidemic". The difference between "a tenth" and "nine tenths" is important. The difference between "people" and "animals" is important. Down with the slobs too lazy to learn and remember the difference.
Incidentally, I blush to admit I had never looked up the meaning of "autopsy" before. It would be restricted to humans by long usage only. "Necropsy" could quite properly be used for post mortem exaimation of either humans or animals.


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#24186 - 03/23/01 05:45 PM Re:epizootic
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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We should not take lightly the corruption of "decimate" nor the corruption of "epidemic".

May I call you Canute, Bill? Decimate is changing, a change that started long ago. Do you use the word "let" to mean "allow" or "hinder"? The "corruption" you speak of is inevitable, and you yourself will use many words that have been "corrupted" from their original meanings. If I describe my room as a shambles, would you chastise me for "corrupting" the word which was used in the King James Bible for "meat market"? If I said that you were a "nice" man would you take umbrage at my calling you foolish or ignorant, or would you understand my use of its modern meaning, and berate me for "corrupting" it?


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#24187 - 03/23/01 07:34 PM Re:epizootic
wwh Offline
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Dear Max:what I deplore is the failure to distinguish between one tenth and nine tenths in the first place. We don't need a special word for killing one in ten any more. In a hundred years it may be that control of infectious diseases will be good enough that we will not need word for infection of a significant fraction of either humans or animals. But until that happy state is achieved, let us as liguaphiles encourage the use of etymologically accurate words. And remember, King Canute was not trying to hold back the tide,he was proving that even a king could not.


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#24188 - 03/23/01 08:21 PM Re:epizootic
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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let us as liguaphiles encourage the use of etymologically accurate words

My point precisely. According to one resource, the "etymologically accurate" definition of "nice" is "[O.Fr. nice, foolish, simple - L. nescius ignorant - ne, not, scire, to know]" So we should, apparently, be encouraging people to use the etymologically accurate definition, and ignore the reality that the word's definition has shifted. King Canute made a valid point, one applicable to the tides of change in both water and language. If, as you say, we don't need a specialist word for killing one in ten, what's wrong with accepting the currently popular meaning of decimate? The shift in its meaning is dramatic, but so is the shift in the meaning of "nice", and no one is arguing that we try to turn back that tide.


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#24189 - 03/23/01 11:28 PM Re:epizootic
inselpeter Offline
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If I describe my room as a shambles, would you chastise me for "corrupting" the word which was used in the King James Bible for "meat market"?

Now THAT is a pregnant statement! and


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#24190 - 03/24/01 01:02 AM Re:epizootic: an interrogatory speculation
inselpeter Offline
Pooh-Bah

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The shift in its meaning is dramatic, but so is the shift in the meaning of "nice", and no one is arguing that we try to turn back that tide.

Question:

It looks to me like two principles are at work here. The first is the hyperbolic 'extrapolation' of a term to the limit of its category. The second is the shift toward opposite meaning. Are these recognized etymological principles? I seem to remember a professor of linguistics at Konstanz discussing the second of these. He went so far as to say it could be applied not only to meaning, but to orthography. His example was "amor" and "Roma."

"Decimate" would be an example of the first, i.e., an 'extrapolation' from partial to complete; while "nice" would be an example of the second, i.e., a migration from 'foolish' to 'fitting,' or 'correct' (admittedly these meanings co-exist with more derogatory ones).

(Interrogative (and highly questionable)) speculation:

Webster's online gives a second definition of "decimate" - "to exact a tax of 10 percent from" [that is, "to tithe"] and gives as example, <poor as a decimated Cavalier -- John Dryden>. The shift from 10 percent to ruin here is plausible. The shift from a 'tithe of dead' to out-and-out slaughter of the meaning being discussed on this thread is not similarly intuitive, but maybe it follows a parallel course?

Let's say the contemporary use of "decimated" is a corruption only insofar as one might need a term for a 10% slaughter. On the other hand, the contemporary use might be something altogether new. Is it possible that by juxtaposing the injurious 10% with the ruinous 100% within the term, the word's meaning shifts from "acceptable loss" to devastation? The new term contains not just the notion of what the event (the decimation) ought to be, but its transcendence. By inscribing the word with the image of its own transcendence, does hyperbole force the word beyond its limits and produce something new, and signifying something more than it might otherwise have done?





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#24191 - 03/24/01 02:47 AM Re:epizootic: an interrogatory speculation
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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The new term contains not just the notion of what the event (the decimation) ought to be, but its transcendence. By inscribing the word with the image of its own transcendence, does hyperbole force the word beyond its limits and produce something new, and signifying something more than it might otherwise have done?

An intriguing idea, and one that I like the sound of. It certainly sounds a lot better than my somewhat snide replies to Dr. Bill.



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#24192 - 03/24/01 09:59 AM re sense shifts
tsuwm Offline
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I am mostly with Max on this issue; sense shift and transferral happen, and there's no turning the tide. but 'decimate' is a particularly bad example for which to carry the flag. I say this for more than one reason:

1. the first recorded English usage was in the tithing sense mentioned above. (mid 16C)

2. the "punishment" sense was used mainly in historical, military contexts (i.e., not popularly) (late 16C)

3. the sense then shifted to the selection of 1 in 10 for anything (obs, rare - 17C/18C)

4. then, by transferral, it was applied to (A)the killing or destruction of one in ten and (B) destruction of a large proportion; subjection to severe loss, slaughter, or mortality (late 17C and on)

think about how decimate would have been used in (A) and (B) and how the meanings would have become blurred. 1856 J. H. Newman Callista The population is prostrated by+pestilence, and by the decimation which their riot brought upon them. what percentage do you suppose was meant here? we can't know, out of context, but it was certainly not 10%.

5. there is this odd citation from 1867: Freeman Norm. Conquest A systematic decimation of the surviving male adults. By decimation is here meant the slaying, not of one out of ten, but of nine out of ten.

[Bill, you'll need a time machine to fight this battle.]

addendum
by sheer coincidence, I am reading a book ["Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad" (an Inspiration for a Major Motion Picture 8).] in which is related a story of one Russian commander who, faced with mass desertions, "acted decisively to curb the epidemic. [gratuitous topic reference] Calling a general assembly... [he] berated them... moved purposefully to the long lines... and began counting.... As he reached the tenth man, he wheeled and shot him in the head." [repeats until pistol emptied, six dead]

does he use the word 'decimate'? no, but only two pages later we find this phrase: "as Russian antitank guns pummeled his armor and decimated his granadiers." [the book is ca. 1973]

final edit (I hope)
some might misapply the word "ironic" to this incidental juxtaposition. (or maybe he had a really sharp editor ; )


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#24193 - 03/24/01 10:26 AM Re:epizootic
musick Offline
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The difference between "people" and "animals" is important.

"Necropsy" could quite properly be used for post mortem exaimation of either humans or animals.


How important is it, really?


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#24194 - 03/24/01 10:41 AM Re: re sense shifts
inselpeter Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/14/01
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Loc: New York City
Well! I almost killed this after posting as a late night rant!

think about how decimate would have been used in (A) and (B) and how the meanings would have become blurred. 1856 J. H. Newman Callista The population is prostrated by+pestilence, and by the decimation which their riot brought upon them. what percentage do you suppose was meant here? we can't know, out of context, but it was certainly not 10%.

[ref: red] But that's exactly my point. I *don't* know what percentage might be meant, only that it is significantly greater than 10%. Since the change is only "very large," and the result of a specific multiple, the impact on natural language is much stronger. The extrapolation need not be complete or precise -- only extreme. It this case, it is the sense of the extreme, not its quantity, that is expressed. It seems to me this comports well with the late 17C meaning you cite, "(A)the killing or destruction of one in ten and (B) destruction of a large proportion; subjection to severe loss, slaughter, or mortality."

(Note: "extrapolation" is probably an unfortunate choice of words, it was the best I could come up with.)

tsuwm, do you have anything on the orthographical shift phenomenon.


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#24195 - 03/24/01 10:49 AM Re: re sense shifts
tsuwm Offline
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inselp, I'm afraid I don't quite *get your point. are you saying you have a need to know the actual percentage? I don't think you are, but.

>the result of a specific multiple
what does this mean?

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#24196 - 03/24/01 11:21 AM Re: re sense shifts
inselpeter Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
need to know %

[This is very hard to do concisely, I appreciate your bearing with me as I try]

No! Just the opposite! If it were a matter of discrete number, the 'comparison' wouldn't work.

The contrast "contained" in the meaning of your 17C usage is ***not*** numerically expressed; the impact would be lost if it ***were***.

***IF*** I am right, and the (e.g.) 17C usage contains the trace of the word's earlier meaning, what is conveyed is simply that there is an *enormous* difference between that 10% once designated and ruin before the later (e.g,, 17C) user.

It is **not** the number change, but "viscerally" experienced change that is significant. That is to say, when "decimate," which once meant "tithe" (or other 10% taking), is applied to a ruinous event, the contrast between that more manageable original meaning and the present actual ruin is brought to the fore. The impact on understanding is not clinical, but palpable (like Hecuba's "gone all gone" -- she doesn't go around taking a numeric inventory of her losses, but wails and laments "all is gone").

This contrast is probably lost among modern users, but that doesn't mean it would not have been apparent in some way, to, e.g., 17C users (who were, perhaps, more familiar than us with the concept of tithing -- and with the sort of warfare in which one would speak of 10% dead as a kind*, and not merely as a figure of casualties*)

The encapsulated contrast is the poetry of the word and **not** its past to present ratio in number.

--As I say, this is hard to do in a couple of lines. Is that at all clearer. (and do you promise to tell me if you know anything about "amor"?)

*Incidentally, I think it would also be worth thinking about the relationship of the senses "tithing" and "war dead". The latter being a kind of "tithe to the Lord" perhaps (particularly if applied to losses during Crusades) ???

IP



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#24197 - 03/24/01 11:50 AM Re: re sense shifts
tsuwm Offline
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inselp,

gotcha. see also earlier discussion of enantiodromic word shifts (words which are their own antonym). [yart]


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#24198 - 03/24/01 12:00 PM Re: re sense shifts
wwh Offline
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Dear Pooh-Bah I,aka tsuwm: Thanks for you helpful post about the antiquity of the change in "decimate". I now see that I was grievously in error in thinking it was of much more recent occurrence, perhaps of less than a hundred years.
But with the epidemic, epizootic problem it does not seem that "epidemic" ought replace "epizootic".


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#24199 - 03/24/01 12:08 PM Re: re sense shifts
inselpeter Offline
Pooh-Bah

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Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
Thanks, I will do that.

Meantime, one more conjecture: the transition tithe to ruin parallels the theo[cratic] extremes of tithe and holocaust, each of the latter is a kind of an offering -- if not to God than to his priests.

Make the Crusade connection (as the Dryden citation from my original post (interrogatory…) suggests), and the shift from tithe to utter destruction becomes a "decimation triangulation."

And still no amor.

Thanks again, IP



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#24200 - 03/24/01 12:21 PM Re: re sense shifts
tsuwm Offline
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re: amor et roma

I think you've romed far afield; the ultimate source for amo(u)r is ama-re to love, I believe.


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#24201 - 03/24/01 12:38 PM Re: re sense shifts
inselpeter Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
Well, maybe you're right. I was very knew in Ger'y when I heard him say that. It was the only thing I understood--and I may not even have understood *that* much.

In future, I will keep my romings to my own affairs. Adieu! IP


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#24202 - 03/24/01 05:54 PM Re: re sense shifts
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Thanks, tsuwm for filling in the background on decimate. I was quite confident that the usage my Chambers calls "loose" was established by the 19th C., and it's nice to know that I was not far off. My view on decimate was that it was a word with a specific, technically correct word usurped for broader use, much the way that the specific, technical definition of epidemic appears to be under threat from a broader use. I shall, however, revel in using "epizootic" just to show off.


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#24203 - 03/25/01 08:42 AM Re: Foot to hoof
BlanchePatch Offline
journeyman

Registered: 03/02/01
Posts: 76
Loc: New York City
So complicated! I dare not think about why the difference between "blinkers" and "blinders."


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#24204 - 03/26/01 09:27 AM Re: Foot to hoof
belMarduk Offline
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What do you mean Blanche? Aren`t they two different things?

Here, blinkers are those lights on the backs of cars that blink on and off to tell which side you are turning. It can also be used to describe any light that blinks on and off (like Christmas lights). Blinders are those things you put on a horse's face so that he can only see in front of him; not side to side.


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#24205 - 03/26/01 11:15 AM Re: Foot to hoof
wwh Offline
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My dictionary gives "blinders" as synonym for "blinkers" meaning small squares of leather attached to bridle that block the horse's vision of things on either side, to keep it from being disturbed by them;.


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#24206 - 03/26/01 11:40 AM Re:epizootic
Faldage Offline
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We should not take lightly the corruption of "decimate"

Decimation was originally a punishment meted out to mutinous legions in the Roman army. Everyone was lined up and they counted off by tens. Then every number (e.g.) three was taken out and shot. Well, OK, they didn't shoot them but the effect was the same, they came out of the experience dead. But, Note! Everyone else was scattered about amongst other legions, so the legion that was decimated had no one left in it. Generalizing the definition of decimation to include other effects than just a simple reduction in number by 1/10th seems to me a minor thing to quibble about.

Better we should save our energies for whinging about such travesties as referring to naprons as aprons or requiring that money change hands for the word sell to be used


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#24207 - 03/26/01 11:54 AM Re:epizootic
of troy Offline
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Re: they came out of the experience dead.

Did they come out as Debutants? or did they come out of the closet?( -- maybe they didn't have the don't ask/don't tell policy) Just how did they come out?

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#24208 - 03/26/01 12:01 PM Re:epizootic
Faldage Offline
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The spreader of sheep effluvia: they came out of the experience dead.

La hija de Dios: Did they come out as Debutants? or did they come out of the closet?( -- maybe they didn't have the don't ask/don't tell policy) Just how did they come out?

The spreader of sheep effluvia: Whether or not they had the policy, they were in no condition to tell. You could ask them till you're blue in the face.


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#24209 - 03/26/01 12:29 PM Re:epizootic
of troy Offline
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or till they were blue-- I am not sure of the "color" progression after death-- (depending on position, etc..)
--but this thread has discussed autopsies-- and we do have Dr. Bill, who might have some memory-- (an article in last week's New Yorker pointed out autopies are becoming uncommon in most US hospitals).

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#24210 - 03/26/01 12:45 PM Re: Foot to hoof
rkay Offline
member

Registered: 12/13/00
Posts: 144
Loc: London, UK
Interesting - I'd never heard of blinders being synonymous with blinkers. I've always used blinkers for the bits of leather on a horse's bridle. For me, a blinder is a word used to describe something that is absolutely fantastic - eg, a blinder of an idea. This can also be sometimes contracted, as in: 'Henry came up with an absolute blinder'.

As to the epidemic/epizootic, I think we're still in denial - I just keep hearing it referred to as a 'crisis'.


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#24211 - 03/30/01 09:53 AM Long response, caution if modem slow
inselpeter Offline
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Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
Thank you for directing me to Julian Burnside's excellent article on enantiodromic words http://www.users.bigpond.com/burnside/contradicting.htm; while it makes very clear what this class of words is, at the same time, it makes me doubt whether 'decimate' can be counted among them.

The enantiodromic is a class of polysemic words whose meanings are opposite, but not contemporaries. They display a shift of meaning to opposite meaning over time. In terms real use, however, they will not, have retained both meanings when the shift is complete; and it is to be surmised that they cannot actually be classed enantiodromic until that shift is complete.

Burnside uses another term, amphibolous, to describe the class of polysemic words whose opposite meanings are contemporaries, words such as: fast, quite, to sanction, and to weather. But while each may have to meanings, only one of these is meant in any given occurrence. The irony of paradox is not inherent in the use, but from the distance of linguistic investigation.

Finally, in our March 24 exchange, you objected to an argument which you had mistakenly attributed to me. In one responses, you wrote

think about how decimate would have been used in (A) and (B) and how the meanings would have become blurred. 1856 J. H. Newman Callista The population is prostrated by+pestilence, and by the decimation which their riot brought upon them. What percentage do you suppose was meant here? we can't know, out of context, but it was certainly not 10%.

and in a later one

inselp, I'm afraid I don't quite *get your point. are you saying you have a need to know the actual percentage? I don't think you are, but. >the result of a specific multiple what does this mean?

Let me be clear, the point isn't one-upmanship. What interests me, here, is the logic of your responses. Superficially, the position attributed to me is ludicrous and objectionable on that ground. Fundamentally, however, you are pointing out a perceived fallacy in my argument. If the meaning shift in question is from ten percent to a percentage greater than ten percent, it is not the logical shift of a meaning to its opposite, but a shift in degree. This is what I intended when I used the word "to extrapolate."

In its current common usage, "to decimate" is to destroy utterly. But "to destroy utterly" is not the opposite of "to destroy 10%." Further, we do not consider its original meaning when we here its common use-unless, as wwh, it is to point out an error.

I maintain, however, that it is at least possible that, at one point in the career of its development, the irony of "to decimate" may have been recognized when it was used to mean "to destroy utterly." In that case, both meanings would inherent at one and the same time. And in that case, it is neither a word having more than one independent meanings at once, nor a word having opposite meanings but not in a single context, nor a word whose career carries it from one sense to its opposite.

Then, if my conjecture at the top of the last paragraph is correct, "to decimate" would have, at least at one point in its history, have belonged to another class of words altogether.


This is Binky, wishing you a pleasant from the rings of Saturn, signing off.

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#24212 - 07/23/01 10:43 AM Re: Epidemic?
wwh Offline
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I am glad to see that Anu is in favor of retaining the distinction between "epidemic" and "epizoőtic".


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#24213 - 07/23/01 12:39 PM autopsy, epidemic
Alex Williams Offline
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Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1814
Loc: Spam Factory
I realize I am joining this party rather late, but here goes.

When I was in medical school, we had several lectures in forensic pathology given by one of the state medical examiners, Dr. Davis. He's pointed out that
"autopsy" could mean "to see with one's own eyes" or it could mean "to see oneself." That is (in the latter case), for one human being to examine the corpse of another human being, they get a blimpse of their own anatomy and their own mortality.

"Epidemic" literally means "upon the people," so a disease upon the animals would be "epizootic," although as a new word to me it sounds like an adjective or at best a geologic era. I wonder if there were a disease that tended to spread among animals every 4 years, would it be an "episodic epizootic"? har har har har.


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#24214 - 07/23/01 01:16 PM Re: autopsy, epidemic
wwh Offline
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It is regrettable that so few people understand the medical advances that have resulted from discoveries made at autopsy. Unfortunately I know of no book that tells about them. But for instance, my mother's mother died of a pulmonary artery infarct because it was not known in 1891 that it was a very bad idea to keep women in bed many days after childbirth. Because no autopsy was done, the cause of my grandmother's death could not be understood, and the guesses as to the cause were wildly inaccurate.Only fifty years later when autopsies revealed the emboli blocking the right side of the heart were discovered could the causative factors be understood, and early ambulation be insisted on, with the saving of a very large number of mothers. Many other such discoveries have saved countless lives, so remember this if you are ever asked to give permission for an autopsy.


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#24215 - 07/24/01 12:38 AM Re: autopsy, epidemic
Bingley Offline
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Dr. Bill, you have delighted us all with your humour and medical titbits ever since you joined us here. If your health permits, why don't you write such a book?

Bingley
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#24216 - 07/24/01 09:16 AM Re: autopsy, epidemic
wwh Offline
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Posts: 13858
Dear Bingley: you are much too kind. My writing talents are very small. In fact, not a jest, one of the med school profs told me he would approve my graduation only on the proviso that I solemnly swore never to write for publication. He subsequently became the most hightly regarded editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, which proves his qualification to judge the paper I wrote in my Junior year.
And it would really take a really top-notch pathologist to write such a book.


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#24217 - 07/24/01 08:05 PM Re: autopsy, epidemic
of troy Offline
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there was an article in the NYer some 3 or 4 months ago about autopsies-- saying how much they had fallen out of favor, and how vital they still are. when one of my elderly first cousins died some years ago, she left her body to Bellevue hospital-- for 2 reasons, 1) a frugal woman all her life, she appreciated that she would be buried one year later, at no cost to her family..and 2) when she was younger, she wished to go to medical school. she was discouraged, and shunted into nursing. she loved nursing, but she spoke gleefully of her plans.. she might not do it till she was dead-- but she was going to get into Bellevue's medical school!

I know WOW will understand that we all though it marvelous.. the irish have always been accuse of having happy songs of death, and sad songs of love. We had a memorial the week she died, and every was thrilled that Annie was off to medical school at the age of 89!

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#24218 - 07/24/01 11:29 PM Re: autopsy, epidemic
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
So if a pandemic was decimating large numbers of anthropomorphs and/or theriomorphs/zoomorps it would be called a......? Oh, lord...am I gonna get it now!


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#24219 - 07/25/01 11:36 AM Re: autopsy, epidemic
belMarduk Offline
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Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
Actually, the importance of autopsies is quite evident in the books by author Kathy Reichs. She is a well-known forensic anthropologist who has written a couple of murder mystery novels. There was also a documentary on her work (the forensics not the writing) a few months ago.

Take a gander at Death Du Jour - not for the faint of heart as she is quite detailed in her descriptions. It is amazing what autopsies will reveal.


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