Monday, June 07, 2010

The Disgusting Mutability of Language

Scott: I got another Latin text today. The amount of time I dedicate to that class, which I think Jay attends only to humor me, is obscene.

Kish: sir, you should charge money

Scott: I do! But Jay refuses to pay.

Kish: he should make you cupcakes

Scott: I would not eat anything Jay tried to cook.
But I should learn the Latin word for cupcakes.

Kish: is there such a word?

Placenta pōculōrum.
That's my attempt. Literally, cake of cups.

that sounds wrong

Scott: I didn't create the language, but yes it does.

it's the "placenta" part

I know. If you can stand the etymology, the placenta was literally named: "Uterine cake." By some, I can only assume, very sick anatomist.

Kish: well, you should command jay to make you such a cake
now i want a cupcake

Scott: It's done! I shall order two cupcakes, one for your finder's fee.

Kish: perfect!
let jay know that he is free to purchase what he cannot make

Notā bene: Realdo Colombo, a 16th century Italian anatomist bears the blame. He created the term placenta uterīna (which in Latin, sounds much more musical). Placenta is indeed the Latin word for cake, specifically a flat cake, and derives from the Proto-Indo-European for flat: *plak-. This might be the ancestor, through the Germanic languages, of our word flat (p's tended to become f's in the Germanic languages. Pater vs. Father. Pēs vs. Foot. Piscis vs. Fish. Pellis (think pelt) vs. Felt. Pullus (rooster!) vs. Fowl. Portus (gate) vs. Ford.) These are things I, and mainly only I, find immensely interesting.

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