or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, April 09, 2006


The quick recap: I wrote something tangentially about grenadine, a reader wrote to correct me at which time I had to correct her, and now she's written again with an addendum:

I don't get a chance to check your blog regularly. I notice you've already written three other postings since dedicating this one to correct me. Hope you'll still scroll down to read my comments.

You're right about grenadine juice being made from pomegranates. The fruit I mentioned as grenadine is actually called grenadille, passion fruit in English. My confusion comes from the fact that grenadille is sometimes called grenadine in some islands. That is why I assumed grenadine would be the juice from the grenadine fruit. You can find more details on the fruit if you do a search on grenadille. Hope that helps to clarify things.

It does indeed! A simple misunderstanding, that. "Grenadille" is indeed the French word for "passionfruit" (or "passion fruit"); I had never heard it before, though if I had it might have made all this much tidier. It's easy to see how "grenadille" could be turned into "grenadine"; they sound practically identical.

I read all my readers' comments; I have them e-mailed to me so I won't miss one. (There aren't that many: I'm not, say, Boingboing. But I get a few, and I always appreciate them.)


"Passion" is an interesting sort of word with an interesting cluster of meanings, most of which are divorced from the original sense of the word. The big meaning, like it or not, is "overwhelming sexual desire", which, I suspect, is why Mel Gibson's movie title was changed from its original "The Passion" to "The Passion of the Christ", to clarify another meaning, "the sufferings of Jesus" (also seen in such musical works as Bach's St. Matthew Passion). We also have the sense of "any strong enthusiasm"--"She has a passion for music"--which is related to the sexual sense.

"Passion" arises from the Latin "pati", "to suffer, to endure", which seems a bit of a hike from "lust" but really isn't, since people were thought to be suffering from any sin, even if they were enjoying it on the surface. "Passion" is also obviously the stem of "compassion", literally "to suffer alongside", but looking at the Latin root will suggest another word: "pati" is the first half of "patient", and sure enough, that's where the word, as both adjective and noun, comes from. (A patient is someone suffering from a malady, in the modern sense of "suffer". This puts me in mind of a usage I thought strange as a child, the word "suffer" used archaically in "Suffer the little children to come unto me": "suffer", in a slow mutation, meant "endure" and then "put up with" and then finally "allow".)

It would be so tempting to think that "pity" and "empathy" were related to "patient"/"compassion", wouldn't it? "Pity" is actually related to "piety", from the Latin "pius", "dutiful"--possibly because, as Robert Claiborne suggests, compassion was a Christian duty. Empathy, on the other hand, is from Greek "en-", "inside", plus "-pathy", "suffering" (also seen in English as "pathos" and the various illnesses known as pathologies), so to be empathic is to suffer inside at someone else's trouble. And where does "-pathy" come from? It's exactly the same as Latin "pati".


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