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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

How to Learn the Basic Word List      251
tnckle became a torrent On the whole, medical science had favoured
Latin more than Greek loots from which to build new technical terms
The introduction of modern chemical nomenclature in the closing
years of the eighteenth century set a new fashion Modern scholarship,
whether literary or naturalistic., prefers Greek to Latin; and piopnetary
products have fallen into line At no other time in our history have
there been so many words of Greek origin on the lips of the Engksh-
speaking peoples
To-day Latin as a quarry for word-building material has lost its
former importance In the terminology of modern science, especially in
aeronautics^ bio-chemistry^ chemotherapyy genetics^ its place is increasingly
taken by Greek. But the inventor of a new process or instrument does
not scan the pages of Plato or Aristotle for a suitable name He goes to
the lexicon and creates something which was never heard before So it
happens that the language of Euripides is sending out new shoots in
the name of a dental cream, a mouth-wash or a patent medicine A
large number of these artificially created scientific and technical terms
are becoming common property When they are of an unwieldy length,
everyday speech tends to subject them to a process of clipping similar
to what resulted in alms> shortened in the course of centimes from the
same Greek root which yields eleemosynary What used to take several
centimes is now reached in a few decades, if not in a few years With
the same snappiness with which popular parlance has shortened pepper
(Greek peperi) to peps it has changed photograph to photo., automobile to
autOy telephone to phone> and stenographer to stenog
Most words of Greek origin are easy to recognize in script by certain
peculiar consonant combinations introduced by Latin scribes Of these
ph pronounced like /., in phonograph^ and ch pronounced like k m a
Christian choius, are infallible So also is the rh in rheumatism and
diarrhoea An initial ps pronounced like $ alone, as in psychology or
pseudonym, is nearly always indicative of Greek origin, as is the vowel
combination oe or a y pronounced as in lyre The combination th for Ip
represented in Greek by 6 is common to Greek and Teutonic root-
words Scholars of the Reformation period used Latin spelling con-
ventions such as C for K in Greek roots This practice is dying out
Though we still write cycle and cyst> the Greek K is now used at the
beginning of some technical words coined from Greek sources, as
illustrated by kinetic,, kerosene^ or kleptomaniac. German and French,
like English, adhere to the earlier Latin transliteration PH where
Scandinavians, Spaniards, and Italians have adopted the later F