Special thanks to Mr. Williams for telling us that Sprachvergnugen, in last week's theme, means "joy in speaking".
We have done a theme on words from Iliad-characters. Quite naturally, we turn now to Odyssey-characters.
circean - pleasing, but noxious
after the enchantress Circe (Odyssey XIV), who first charmed her victims and then changed them to the forms of beasts
quote:It has been theorized that the enchantress Circe may also be the source of the word "church", which comes from OE circe.¹ OED traces this Old English-circe back to a word unconnected with the Odysseus-Circe (specifically, to Greek kurios = lord), but at least source one doubts that there are two different kinds of "circe" in this sense. I cannot evaluate whether that doubter is crackpot.
¹OED Dict. of Etymology
Curiously, MW and AHD give only cirice, which OED lists as an alternate form.
Webster's 1828 gave "Sax. Circe, circ or cyric" (for this I quote a secondary source).
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sun Nov 24th, 2002 at 19:54.]
cimmerian - very dark or gloomy
"the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long melancholy night" (Odyssey XI)
between Scylla and Charybdis - in a position where avoidance of one danger exposes one to another danger
mentor – a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
also v. tr. and v.intr. to serve as such a counselor or tearcher, esp. in a job-setting
1750, from Mentor, character in the Odyssey (often actually Athene in disguise), friend of Odysseus and adviser of Odysseus' son Telemachus; perhaps ult. meaning "adviser," since the name appears to be an agent noun of mentos "intent, purpose, spirit, passion".
I did not know that "mentor" came from the Odyssey. While mentors are a must in academia, I think mentors are underrated in the business world. A true mentor can be absolutely invaluable. Anyone who has had a wonderful mentor then should be willing to be one.
A letter to the newspaper today asked, "Am I getting old?" The writer had to solve the crossword puzzle clue "Homer's son" and was lost. She could have sworn there was no mention in history of the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey having a son.
Then she realised the answer was "Bart"...
Odysseus comes upon a people who, from feeding on the lotus, live in a drugged, indolent state. His men fall under the influence of drugs there and loose all ambition to return to their homes and real life. Tennyson's poem The Lotos-Eaters also has this sense of languid unreality, of "a land / In which it seemed always afternoon. / All round the coast the languid air did swoon, / Breathing like one who hath a weary dream." There, "with faces pale, ... / The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came."
In your Wordcrafter's judgment the dictionary definitions do not capture this sense of drugged unreality.
lotus eater - a lazy person devoted to pleasure and luxury
lotus land - a place or state of languid contentment.
But in practical use, in US speech "lotusland" often means Southern California or to Los Angeles (reflecting the unreality); in Canada-speak it often means "lotusland" to refer to British Columbia. Residents of that British Columbia are proud to call their home "Lotusland".
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Fri Nov 29th, 2002 at 12:44.]
siren – a dangerously fascinating woman.
More commonly used in the phrase:
siren song – an enticing plea or appeal, especially one that is deceptively alluring
after those, in the Odyssey, whose beautiful singing tempted sailors to sail toward them into dangerous, fatal waters
We end the week with extremely rare word that expresses a lovely concept
eumoirous - happy because innocent and good
This word, though not in OED, can be found in other commercial word-sources. It is my speculation that it comes from the chararater Eumuaios, a man low of social stature (a swineherd) but great of spirit. (Odyssey, Books XIV-XV)
In fact 'eumoiros' comes from the paritcle 'eu' meaning good and 'moira' meaning fate. Eumoiros is thus someone who has a good fate, hence happy. I don't think it has to do with Eumaios.
Eumoiros is thus someone who has a good fate, hence happy. I don't think it has to
do with Eumaios.
Nevertheless, is it not likely that the name is allegoric?
A subheadline in today's Chicago Tribune newspaper used a modified form of siren song.
But 'maios' is a different root from 'moira'. Not quite sure what it means. It might be related to 'maia' which means midwife. So if it's allegorical, it would be allegorical about being a good midwife!
Muse, so good to see you! The theme I have planned for next week might be of particular interest to you.
good to see you too, wordcrafter!
Leo Rosten's Hymen Kaplan books end with 'euroimous'. I'll take the liberty of excerpting at length, for it illustrates how we use words not only to communicate with others, but also to better understand our own feelings and our own world. The books are set in Mr. Parkhill's adult class in English As A Second Language (Richard, you would particularly enjoy them). Here the class members, as their homework, present words from foreign tongues.
Mr. Kaplan picked up a piece of chalk and, with a brave lift of the eyebrows, printed nine letters on the board: EUMOIROUS.
--"Vat?" That was the outraged Blattberg. "Is that a woid or a disease?!" That was angry Scymazk. "Fake! a fake woid!" That was righteous Plonsky.
--Parkhill felt as if he were in an elevator whose cable has snapped. In all his years in the American Night Preparatory School for Adults, no student had ever brought into the classroom, from the world beyond, a word he could not explain: Mr. Kaplan had bagged a specimen Mr. Parkhill could not even recognize. Mr. Kaplan," said Mr. Parkhill carefully, "suppose you tell us what that word – er – means."
-- "Don't you know?" asked Mr. Kaplan in astonishment. No," said Mr. Parkhill firmly. He would not dissemble; he would not evade. [This disconcerts the students; he calms them.]
--Mr. Kaplan dolorously read: "'Eumoirous. Adjective …' It minns: 'Heppy or fortunate fromm de goodness of vun's inclinations an' ections.'"
--A censorious hiss slithered forth from Olga Tarnova. "Shame, shame on such a word!"
--"I wouldn't make Mr. Parkhill troubles!" averred Miss Pomeranz.
--"Give yourself already a diploma and greduate from the school!" called Mr. Plonsky caustically. You be ashemed! bringing in a crazy fency word."
--"Keplen is prod, not 'ashamed!" said Kaplan. How ve vill loin if ve don't try de onusual?!"
--"Your woid is not unusual; it is onbelievable!" bellowed Mr. Plonsky. "You not fair, Mr. Kaplan," wailed Miss Mitnick. "Mr. Parkhill wanted words would help, not confuse.
--"Som pipple," said Mr. Kaplan, "can drown in a gless of vater"
--"But all others in class gave useful words –"
--"Aducation doesn't have to be useful!!
--"But in a hundred years we wouldn't use a word like 'eumoirous'!"
--"Could heppen an occasion vil arise to som student who might use 'eumoirous' any minute!"
--"The day you use this cuckoo woid," stormed Mr. Plonsky, "snakes will fly and alephants sing!"
--"Keplen," said Mr. Kaplan loftily, "is not risponsible for de enimal kinkdom."
"Mr. Kaplan!" Mr. Parkhill did not even try to soften his tone. "I must say I entirely agree with Miss Mitnick and Mr. Plonsky! Your word is ost obscure. Good English is simple English. The purpose of words is to communicate, not to impress." As Mr. Parkhill went on, Mr. Kaplan's features began to sag, like way under heat. He had expected Mr. Parkhill to praise him for discovering so rare a creature as "eumoirous". For the rest of the evening, Mr. Kaplan sat silent, stunned, wrapped in desolation.
[The class continues, and eventually ends, and the students depart.]
Mr. Parkhill collected his books and papers. He noticed a paper on his desk. He unfolded it, turned it right side up, and read,
Dear Mr. Parkhill
Tonight I disagreet with you.
Still, you are the best teacher.
If I don't learn from you, I won't learn from anyone.
p.s. Tonight you should feel eumoirous.
"Eumoirous … Happy from the goodness of one's inclinations and actions." As he snapped the lights out, Mr. Parkhill wondered whether, in all the years he hoped lay before him, he would ever again be so honored.
He felt eumoirous.
I just came across mentee used to mean the person the mentor advises. This so-called "word" grated on me like chalk on a blackboard, but apparantly some published dictionaries accept it. How do you folks feel?
"Mentee" - the person who receives the wisdom of the mentor.
You've been reading the Brenda Starr comic strip, I see.
Another triumph of usage over prescription. It does sound logical, though. Internally consistent, even, in a warped kind of way. Like the plural of house being hice.
Now, does all this mean that if you listen to someone with VERY LOUD voice, like Stentor, you are a "stentee"? Or should that term be saved for people with coronary artery disease after their angioplasty and -- dare I say it -- stent placement?
To rephrase the original question - when does a neologism become a "real" word? I haven't the answer. I must say I don't like this one very much, though. No elegance; no class. It's too obvious.
P.S. And the plural of moose is meese, too, said the goose...
I don't have a problem with "mentee", but that may because in academia I hear it all the time. It is in dictionary.com, though I will check OED.
Now, I do love "stentee" for one who receives a stent! It really would be quite useful because while it could be used for patients with angioplasties, it could also be used for those who have stent placements in other places, such as in the common bile duct.
Mentee is found in the OED Online (2001), with quotes from 1965 to 2001. I'm not crazy about the word, but, then, I don't particularly like the word mentor, either.Stammtisch Beau Fleuve Acronyms goes even further:
This is a bad word. Don't use it. Mentor was the older man Ulysses left to raise his son Telemachus when he went off to fight the Trojans.
Used "mentored" or "advisee" or something.
Now why is advisee better than mentee? They are both formed by the same process and one is just a valid as the other.
I have two objections to -ee words: 1) this suffix was largely used in legal, military or political contexts and, as such, it sounds like bureaucratese; 2) the suffix denotes to me the reciever of an action or the benefits of an action by another, and many -ee words involve no such action. Mentee falls under my first objection. Other -ee words, such as attendee, fall under my second objection. An attendee is the recipient of what action? (M-W Online dates attendee to 1937, though the OED Online only traces it back to 1961.) On the other hand, I've never had that objection to absentee (dated to 1605 by M-W, 1507 in the OED), as in absentee ballot or absentee owner, though absentee is no more logical than attendee.
Here's the Usage Note from the AHD:
Usage Note: Reflecting its origins in the French passive participle ending -é (feminine -ée ), the suffix -ee was first used in English to refer to indirect objects and then to direct objects of transitive verbs, particularly in legal contexts (as in donee, lessee , or trustee ) and in military and political jargon ( draftee, trainee , or nominee ). Beginning around the mid-19th century, primarily in American English, it was often extended to denote the agent or subject of an intransitive verb, as in standee, returnee , or attendee . The coining of new words ending in -ee continues to be common. A number of these coinages, such as honoree, deportee , and escapee , have become widely accepted. Many others, such as firee (one who is fired from a job), invitee, jokee, and roastee (one who is ridiculed at a roast), are created ad hoc and often have a comic effect. On rare occasions the suffix -ee has been applied to noun forms, giving us words like benefactee (from benefactor) and biographee (from biographer).
I'm reminded of a joke. A man takes the bus each morning to his job. He strikes up a conversation with another man who, he discovers, is an attorney working on a rape case. Trying to impress the lawyer with his command of legalese, he asks, "And who do you represent: the fucker or the fuckee?"
Along with coachee and tutee it belongs anywhere but in the English language.
Apart from its ugliness it is also unnecessary.
Just as coachees and tutees can (and should) be described as leaners and pupils so should mentees use their proper name, protégés
Well, it looks like I stand alone, but I like "mentee", and I will use it, so there! If it is in OED, it's good enough for me (and, I imagine, Bear ) As we have all found, many words are redundant.
There is a difference between personal preferences for words, and saying that words shouldn't be used. The latter sounds a bit arrogant to me, but, then, maybe I am just being belligerent today!
But, Kalleh, which would you prefer to be?
A mentee or a protégé?
This reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago on the subject of driving tests. Following the same twisted logic, someone who takes a test ought to be a testee. So, what do you call a group of people taking tests...
I may not have been clear what it was that grates on me.
Our -er words (or -or) are based on on verbs, and mean "one who ___."
-- I run; I am a runner. I think; I am a thinker.
-- I eat food; I am an eater. I sell goods; I am a seller. I read a book; I am a reader.
If the verb is transitive it has a direct object, and if that direct object is a human being, we sometimes name him or her by adding -ee to the verb.
-- I advise you. I am your advisor; you are my advisee.
-- I employ you. I am your employer; you are my employee.
But in each case these -er and -ee endings are applied to verbs (or in rare cases like "biographer, to nouns), not to nonsense syllables.
What grates me about "mentee" is that it has no basis in to ment: there is no such verb. "Mentee" ignores the etymological basis of "mentor," as if it were just another of those verb-based nouns.
[This message was edited by wordnerd on Tue Aug 12th, 2003 at 10:42.]
Well, wordnerd, your point makes a lot more sense, to me at least, than the others here. They seem to think that because there is a legitimate word, such as "mentee", that all words, such as "test" can legitimately have the "ee" ending. That is not the case at all. Of course I wouldn't like "testee" or "stentee" or any of the others. However, I will continue to use "mentee", as it is an accepted word. The rest of you can avoid using it. Does that mean my writing (or speech) is worse than yours? No. It is a matter of personal preference. Sheesh!
Now, Richard, as to your question: Yes, I do like protégé, and perhaps I will begin to use it instead. Again, that would be my personal choice. Not to beat a dead horse....but, as we have all said dozens of times, there are many words in English that have the same meaning.
Which means that of my two examples, tutee and coachee, the latter could be considered valid, since "to coach" is a perfectly good verb.
Darn! Now these "ee" words are beginning to grate on me! I just saw a powerpoint presentation with the word "examinee". It reminded me of "testee", and suddenly I began to hate the word. However, it too exists in dictionary.com.
Granted that "coachee" lacks the problem wordnerd noted in connection with "mentee" -- but does that make it automatically valid?
The verb "to coach" also presents an unusual property that the noun form, meaning "one who does", does not use the -er ending. That is, we say that one who reads is a "reader", but we don't say that one who coaches is a "coacher". Since there's no such thing as a "choacher", a "coachee" would seem anomalous.
The word "coach" means both the action of coaching and the person who coaches. I can think of only one other such word (but I trust there are others) where the same form is used for both purposes. That word is "messenger," and we would never speak of the "messangee" of a letter.
I remembered this thread when I saw this word today: tutee Sounds like tutu to me!
Apparently the sirens were associated with mermaids. The news has this about sirenomelia: