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nuntiorum errare est?

For those of you who take pleasure in the endless errors that plague purveyors of print, UPI writer James J. Kilpatrick has collected a bunch but committed an error of his own:

This past December, two AP writers provided a feature story about a midnight hike through a botanical garden. “At the end of the trail was a beautiful opening in the canapi.” An opening in the what? Perhaps those hungry campers saw cheese and caviar. The word the writers wanted was “canopy,” a noun rooted in ancient Greek and Latin. The plural “canopies” may be purchased in grocery stores throughout the world.

I sent him the following:

“The word the writers wanted was “canopy,” a noun rooted in ancient Greek and Latin.”

Which is it?

The answer is Greek. The Latin form is merely a transliteration of the Greek (drawn from the word for ‘gnat’ or ‘mosquito,’ which means literally ‘cone face’). An example of a noun rooted in ancient Greek *and* Latin is ‘television,’ the second element presumably drawn from Latin because ‘-scope’ was already taken.

I think now tht ‘needle-face’ would have been more to the point.

I can’t think of any other words at the moment derived from both languages, so if you can please leave a comment.

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  1. “Automobile” is the other standard example, but I’m sure there are plenty of -science and -ology compounds that come from both Latin and Greek.

  2. HOMOSEXUALITY of course, coined by the German lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1864. He later was the editor of the all-Latin periodical Alaudae (1889-1895).