Palin and Lalia
Theological Terms I
Theological Terms II
Theol. Terms III
Noso and Noce/Nocu
Milton, Book I (PL)
Oo and Ovi
Labors of Hercules I
Oblectation et al.
Dissimulare et al.
Acroama et al.
Tetrous et al.
Commeate et al.
Obsolete et al.
Subtle et al. I
Hesitate et al. (Ovid)
Excoriate et al. I
Excoriate et al. II
Bill Long 4/20/07
Beginning with the "Slow" of It
This essay will continue with my consideration of "slow" (brady) and "long" (quick) terms. Let's begin with a term from vulcanology: bradyseism. The Greek word seismos means "earthquake" (seismic, seismograph, seismologist, etc.), and so bradyseism is a slow upward or downward movement of the earth's crust. It is an earthquake in slow motion, I suppose. While on seism, I should mention malloseismic, a word used repeatedly in the Kids Bee. It means "relating to, or being a region subject to, frequent destructive earthquakes." The word mallo is to be distinguished from the Greek roots melli, melo, and meli (relating to honey and other things), because mallo is derived from the Greek mallon, the comparative of mala, which means "more" or "rather." Back to brady.
A slow heartbeat, less than 50 beats per minute, is called bradycardia. I recall reading decades ago that Jim Ryun, the great US miler in the 1960s, before becoming a Fundamentalist Congressman in the 1990s/2000s, had a heartbeat of fewer than 40 beats per minute. Bradyphrasia is slowness of speech due to a mental defect or disease, and bradypepsia is slowness of digestion (the Greek word for cooking or digestion is pepsis. I like the sentence from 1710: "A bitter colluvies (i.e., filth or foul matter) brings Queasiness..Bradypepsy."
But before we return to tachy, I want to introduce you to the only living creature with "brady" in its name: the three-toed sloth. This interesting upside-down-hanging creature, which hangs onto limbs with its tridactylic hands, sleeps around 15 hours a day and moves sooooo slowly, is a mammal of the Edentata ("toothless") Order. That order is also known as the Xenarthra ("strange joint"). If you were keeping "score," the Edentata is one of 26 Orders of Mammals; there are about 5,000 extant species of Mammals, with the Rodentia (rodents) comprising nearly 40% of these. So, you not only thought that rats were everywhere....
So the Edentata are an order of placental mammals comprising anteaters, armadillos and sloths. This order only consists of about 28 or so species, in four families, making it one of the smallest orders of Mammals. Two sloth families are the two-toed (Megalonychidae--the "large nailed") and the three-toed or "true" sloths (Bradypodidae--the "slow of foot"). Here is a picture of a three-toed sloth. These creatures, which are only about the size of a cat, are arboreal, nocturnal and herbivorous. A major predator is the jaguar; thus sloths try to stay clear of Interstate highways.
Back to Tachy
I could go on at some length with other tachy words, but I will continue with mention of a few interesting ones and then four or five species/families from the animal kingdom. A tachygrapher is one who "writes fast," i.e., a shorthand writer or stenographer. Tachypnea (or tachypnoea) is rapid breathing. Many people today suffer from sleep apnea, where the person is unable to breathe for a while in sleep (a is a "privative," thus negating what follows, which is pnea--breathing). Pneumatology is the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit--who seems to spend a lot of its time "breathing" on people. Then we have tachylite or tachylyte which is merely defined as "basaltic glass," but its name was given by the German mineralogist Breithaupt in the 19th century to describe the quick (tachus) fusibility or solubility (lysis) of the material. I know nothing about this, but it shows us how we can build on earlier words. Then, tachyphylaxis is a pharmaceutical term (the Greek word phylaxis means "protection"; think prophylactic) meaning "a rapidly diminishing response to successive doses of a drug." "Tachyphylaxis accounted for his susceptibility to a subsequent recurrence of the tumor."
There are other tachy words--tachyiatry, meaning the art of quick healing; tachytomy, a quick "cutting" or operation, and even tachydrome, which I am going to define as a "quick runner." So, if you really wanted to confuse, and perhaps delight, your friends, you would say, when watching a track meet with them, "I wonder when the tachydromes will take the field." Well, maybe you would have fewer friends if you did this...
Tachy's in Nature
The early 20th century Century dictionary listed five living creatures that were described by the word tachy. Their listing was as follows: (1) tachyglossidae--the echidna family; (2) tachinidae-- a kind of fly; (3) tachinidae-- the rove beetle; (4) tachypetidae-- the frigate bird (pelican); and (5) tachybaptes-- a genus of grebes. Not all of these maintain their tachy- designation today. In the interests of trying to develop and make more precise our knowledge of the natural world as well as of Greek/Latin roots, I want to close this essay by mentioning a word about each of these. Pictures galore are online.
(1) I love the "picture" behind the word tachyglossidae, for the word means "fast tongue." I can think of lots of people whom that word would well describe. The Monotremata Order of Mammals, one of the smaller of the 26 orders, consists of one family, the tachyglossidae, which includes the echidnas and duck-billed platypus. The precise scientific description of the former includes a "long protusile mucous-covered tongue," with which they catch their prey. The characteristic mark of these creatures, as you have no doubt seen is their aculeate-- sharp and pointed--outer covering, which enables them to curl up in a bundle when attacked and be relatively safe. Here is a picture.
Actually I think that this is enough for one essay. I will have to extend to a third essay, but it is worth it, if it further enhances our knowledge of the world and of words.
Copyright © 2004-2009 William R. Long