or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Coverup

Jim e-mailed me today to say that he'd bought a used copy of a slightly older edition of this book, a visual dictionary of French, and then added,

Did you know that  "paupière interne" is the french for a cat's nictitating membrane?

I did not. ("Paupiere interne" literally means "internal eyelid".) I would have sworn I had written about nictitating membranes before, but apparently not. So many words, so little time. (A nictitating membrane is the transparent or translucent "third eyelid" that some animals, including cats, use to protect their eyes. The word is from Latin "nictare", "to blink, to wink", which did not leave many traces in English save "connive", literally "to wink together", which is to say "to wink at a misdeed".)

"Paupière" is the French word for "eyelid", so naturally I looked up the etymology and couldn't find anything (my resources in this area are not great), but I did discover something else nice: the German word for "eyelid" is "Augendeck".

Now, "Auge" is the German word for "eye", and "Deck" means "lid", and if you think back a few weeks you will see that the "Deck" that means "lid" is exactly the same as the "deck" in English that means, basically, "the lid to the innards of a ship", from Indo-European "(s)teg-". Don't you love it?


Something else I love: I was at City Hall buying a new bus pass today and I discovered that the French term for "shower head" (they were vending low-flow versions) is "pomme de douche", or, literally, "shower apple". Wonderful!


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