or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Animal Crackers

My friend Ralph, knowing I'm going to England in a few days, sent me a link to a slideshow for something called Open House 2007, in which people can visit buildings and structures not usually open to the general public. The timing, unfortunately, is mostly all wrong (how thoughtless of London to be holding their open house on the very days we'll be in Cardiff!), but maybe something will work itself out.

Here's one of the pages; a Masonic temple with a beautiful inlaid mosaic floor depicting the signs of the zodiac (which word, unaccountably to me, the website capitalizes).

Wait a minute. Where did the word "mosaic" come from? The word "Mosaic", capitalized, means "of or pertaining to Moses". Surely the tilework version can't be related etymologically!

To my great relief, it isn't. Lower-case "mosaic", rather wonderfully, is related, though a tangled mess of alterations and dubious interrelationships, to "museum". More here, if you're interested.

"Zodiac", while we're at it, has as its stem Greek "zoon" or "zoion", "living thing", which has also given English such words as "zoology" (which is correctly pronounced "zo-ology" and not "zoo-ology"), "protozoan" (literally "first life"), and, of course, "zoo", which is actually an abbreviated form of "zoological garden".


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