Wednesday, December 04, 2002

chamber pot

I was looking up something else, but this one caught my eye. According to my trusty Random House, it is

a vessel for urine, used in bedrooms.

I have to say, after reading True Porn Clerk Stories, I no longer find this definition quite specific enough....

(Thanks to ***Dave for the link.)

Friday, November 08, 2002

centaur, minotaur

Andy's playing a computer game that includes little centaur icons. From a distance, though, they really look like llamas. That got me thinking, hey, if I were to create a half-man-half-llama, what would I call it? A llamataur?

...No, that would be half llama, half... bull. OK, so what's up with "centaur," which has nothing to do with bulls?

I whipped out my trusty Random House. It, sadly, was of very little help. (It tells me only that the word comes from the Greek "kentauros.") In contrast, "minotaur" is handily broken down into its component parts ("Minos" (the king of Crete who had the labyrinth built) and "taurus" (bull)) for me.

Google to the rescue!

I found an essay (cached; the original page no longer seems to be available) which suggests three possible etymologies:

Even the word "centaur" (originally pronounced "kentaur" - the "s" sound we use today is the product of a relatively recent Gothic influence) has had varying origins claimed. There are, apparently three schools of argument: the incautious "dictionary" etymology has been to associate "kentaur" with ken(tein) tauros = bullprodder (where any claim has been made); an alternate proposal associates the word with kent(ein) auros = air pricker, referring to Pindar's version of the ancestry of the centaurs. The third, previously mentioned, was Dum├Ęzil's association of the Scythian "gandharvas" with kentauros. Take your pick.

Useful! Still not sure what I'd call my llama-men, though. ("Llama-sapien" has a certain ring to it....)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

library, morgue

I wanted to use "database" in some dialogue I was writing for the Tales of the Slayer game. Unfortunately, that word didn't come into use 'til about 1962 (according to M-W), and our story is set in 1928. Upon checking "library" to see whether it'd qualify as an appropriate substitute, I found...

library 2a: a collection resembling or suggesting a library (a library of computer programs) (wine library) b : MORGUE 2

morgue 2: a collection of reference works and files of reference material in a newspaper or news periodical office

Considering this is a Buffy/Cthulhu crossover game, my character has an office in the library and is on the way to visit the morgue, and another character works for a newspaper, this seemed wholly appropriate....