|Mesclun from http://www.foodsubs.com/Greensld.html|
After the funeral, I wondered about the origins of funerary words. Funeral came to English via French from Latin funus "funeral, corpse" but beyond that very little is known about the word. However, some conjecture that it comes from the Proto-Indo-European root dheu- "to rise in a cloud" as do dust, vapor and smoke, among other things. The connection here would be cremation of the dead and the resulting rising smoke and ashes. That would make funus and fumus (Latin for "smoke") cognates.
There were other rituals observed around the funeral. The evening before the funeral a gathering at the funeral home called "visitation" occurred. This appears to be the twenty-first century version of a wake. A wake was traditionally the time between death and burial when the family of the deceased sat with and watched over the body. This meaning of wake preserves an older sense of the word, which was "be watchful" and that further morphed into "guard." Thus, during a traditional wake, the body was watched and guarded until burial. Burial occurred much more quickly in earlier times, before undertakers mastered their art of preserving the body so that the time to burial could be extended. The English word watch comes from the same source a wake.
One of two cats in the TOWFI household has idiopathic tachycardia* (idiopathic = Greek idio- "personal" and Greek -pathic "relating to a disease," and idiopathic has the meaning "disease arising by itself" (literally "from the person") though now it also means "of unknown etiology") (tachycardia = Greek tachy- "swift" and Greek -cardia "heart" and means "rapid heart rate"). This condition requires him to take medication (the beta blocker atenolol) twice a day. Thus, we had to board the cats at our veterinarian's office while we were away, because the cats are very shy and it would be impossible for our normal cat sitter to administer a pill, not to mention that it would be an inconvenience having to do so twice a day. Anyhow, I mention the boarding for two reasons: to add another etymological discussion to our mesclun salad, and to give a possible reason for the non-tachycardic cat's subsequent illness.
|Smorgasbord from http://bit.ly/1lqokso|
The second reason I mentioned board above was to provide a segue into the next discussion. You see, our until-then healthy cat got sick a day after returning from boarding, so we wondered if he picked up the feline equivalent of a norovirus while housed in proximity to other cats. He was vomiting and anorexic (meaning he did not want to eat, from Greek elements meaning "lack of desire [for food]). He had vomited all night and when that continued until midday, the vet asked that he be brought in. Ultimately he was diagnosed with gastritis of unknown cause, and he has since fully recovered. However, while shuttling him back and forth to the vet's office and discussing his prolific vomiting with the doctor, I did wonder about words related to vomit. Luckily I was not eating during most of these mental musings.
As for chunder, that's a great Aussie word, indeed. The OED has no idea about its etymology, but Eric Partridge suggests derivation from the English dialectical chounter "mutter, murmur, grumble", supposedly echoic in derivation. However, he mentions another etymologist's¹ proposed derivations: an abbreviation of watch under ("look out below"), a call that seasick sailors could have made to their mates below; or rhyming slang, from Chunder Loo meaning "spew," Chunder Loo of Akim Foo being a cartoon character in ads for Cobra boot polish, carried in the Sydney Bulletin starting in 1909. Michael Quinion notes that Barry Humphries (known today as Dame Edna) popularized the term chunder in his comic strip about Australians in London in Private Eye magazine. The strip was called Barry McKenzie.¹That etymologist is G.A. Wilkes, in his A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms of 1978.
While we are on the subject, did you know that butyric acid is what gives vomit its characteristic smell? Butyric comes from Latin butyrum "butter" because butyric acid was first isolated from butter.
|Image from http://bit.ly/1rbjtsp (interesting article)|
Please do leave your comments, corrections, or suggestions below.
* If any TOWFI readers happen to be veterinarians, I would love to hear your thoughts on feline idiopathic tachycardia and whether a cat with the condition should be tested for hyperthyroidism (possibly caused by BPA in cat food can liners?), especially if he has a history of low TSH.