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Recall our recent word palfrey (“a docile horse ridden especially by women", as distinguished from a warhorse”). The pal- part comes from Greek para- "beside, secondary"; thus at root a palfrey, a woman’s horse, was a “secondary” horse. Tells you something about the status of women.

Many para- words have an obvious connection with “beside” or “secondary": paramedic and like terms (paranormal, paralegal, paramilitary), parallel and even parenthetical. This week we'll look at ones where the connection is less obvious.

We’ll begin with one which, like palfrey, is originally rooted in the status of women. Until 1882, English law provided when a woman married her property automatically became owned by her husband. He could sell it without her consent, and upon his death it would pass to his heirs, not to hers. There was one exception: the rule did not apply to miscellaneous, personal items, such as jewelry or clothing, which remained her property. (My understanding the English gave women less rights than did laws derived from the Romans, where her "retained property" included the furniture she brought with her.)

This miscellaneous property she had “besides her dowry” was given a name from the Greek para- “beside” + pherne “dowry”. It was called paraphernalia.

paraphernalia – miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity
    An acquaintance inflicted the gift of a piranha with appropriate aquarium and paraphernalia on me. For six or seven months now I have had to put up with the gurgling water, whirring motors, and the uneasy feeling that I am a potential meal.
    – William F. Buckley, Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes & Asides from National Review

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from the Greek para- “beside”

Hmmmm ... in French, para- seems to mean working against or counteracting the root word, as in parapluie (umbrella) "against rain", parachute "against fall(ing)", and paratonnerre (lightning rod) "against thunder".
 
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Yes, that's a second definition of the prefix. (paradefinition?) See the entry in Dictionary.com.


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There is also "parabellum," which in German arms manufacture refers most commonly to the 9mm Luger pistol.

Wiki says it originates in the Latin phrase "si vis pacem, para bellum" (If you would have peace, prepare for war).


RJA
 
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para bellum

The para here is not the same as the Greek preposition / verbal particle παρα (para). It is the imperative form of the verb paro, (parare, paravi, paratus) 'to prepare'. Greek para is related to Latin per and pro (link).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Thanks, z.

That's what comes of searching one's memory phonetically rather than by etymological root (although the latter might challenge even Google's engine.)


RJA
 
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I thought of parable and wondered how that fit in with the "beside" prefix. Apparently it's from the Greek parabole "a comparison, parable," lit. "a throwing beside"


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parable

Yes, English has more than a few words from Greek related to the final stem βαλλω, βαλλειν (ballō, ballein, < PIE *gwel-, link): ballistic, devil, hyperbole, metabolism, symbol, etc.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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parable – a story told to convey a moral or spiritual lesson
[from the concept of a story with a meaning that “stands beside” its facts of its plot]

It can get a bit extreme, though.
    But do the books [by Dr. Seuss] have a hidden meaning? Some anti-abortion rights groups have interpreted the book "Horton Hears a Who" as an anti-abortion parable. Horton the elephant discovers a whole town of tiny people living on a speck of dust. Horton makes it his mission to protect his new friends, declaring his intention with the famous line: "A person's a person no matter how small."
    – ABC News, March 16, 2008 (ellipses omitted)
 
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parable

Great minds think alike, to coin a phrase. Wink


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paraplegia – paralysis of the legs, the lower body [The sufferer is a paraplegic.]

An interesting shift in meanings. The original Greek word meant what we now call hemiplegia: “paralysis on one side”: παρα- para- “beside” + “to strike”. By the time it came from Greek through Latin to English, it had changed to mean “any paralysis;” it later settled down to mean “lower body paralysis”.
    Melanie Trevethick wheeled herself into the High Court, to make a political point [that] government policy discriminates against people like her. Because she became disabled through illness, she is entitled to less help from the state than had she driven drunk, wrapped herself around a power pole, and become a paraplegic. Then, ACC would have remodelled her home to accommodate her wheelchair, bought her an adapted vehicle and paid her 80 per cent of her former income. Instead, she is eligible only for a welfare benefit for income and considerably less taxpayer assistance with some expenses. The discrepancies are obvious and, on the face of it, unconscionable.
    – Dominion Post (New Zealand), March 24, 2008
 
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Today, a familiar word which literally means “beside one’s mind”, para- "beside, beyond" + noos "mind".

paranoia – any unjustified, excessive fear of the actions or motives of others (medical sense: a persistent delusional system, usually on the theme of persecution or exaggerated personal importance)

A movie titled 21 is currently playing. But the book from which it’s taken (the sources of our quote) has a more revealing title, Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, by Ben Mezrich
    Andrew Tay became the “donkey boy,” carrying most of the stash taped to his body. In this role, his paranoia came in handy; he carried the bags of money if they were filled with unstable explosives, and worked his way through airport security with a drug smuggler’s intensity.
 
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Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

I may be paranoid but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

(I've been unable to attribute either of these variations on a theme.)
 
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You'd be paranoid too if you had all those people -- not to mention the Others --watching you all the time from their secret hiding places. ...
 
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Me, I suffer from narapoia, "that uneasy feeling that I am unintentionally following somebody".


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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The orgin of today’s word is clear, once you know that -philia means “love”. The word is defined by our quote, where a witness testifies in court.
    . . .“Tell the jury about your expertise,” Chandler asked.
    . . . “Well, I am the director of the Psychcohormonal Research Laboratory at USC. …. I have conducted wide-ranging studies of sexual practice, paraphilia and psychosexual dynamics."
    . . ."What is a paraphilia, doctor? In language we will all understand, please.”
    . . . “Well, in layman’s terms, paraphilia are what are commonly referred to by the general public as sexual perversions – sexual behavior generally considered unacceptable by society.”
    . . . “Such as strangling you sex partner?”
    . . . “Yes, that would be one of them, big time.
    . . .There was a polite murmur of humor in the courtroom.
    – Michael Connelly, The Concrete Blonde
 
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tsuwm, you're going to like the next one! Wink
 
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Ah, happy coincidence! Yesterday, while reading, I happened on a word that fits this week’s theme. Quite obscure: it’s not in any on-line dictionary, not in OED, not in Bailey’s or in Mrs. Bryne’s dictionary. But amazon has enough hits to convince me that it’s a legitimate word.

Context: Medical learning was limited for centuries because no one could study a human cadaver by dissecting it. Religion forbade human dissection, so the professionals instead relied on the conventional wisdom that a pig would do. A medical student in about the year 1050 is told:
    ”The pig‘s organs are identical to the organs of man. … So it has been written since the time of Galen, whose fellow Greeks would not let him cut up humans. The Jews and the Christians have a similar prohibition. All men share this abhorrence of dissection.”

    [The student asks if perhaps earlier ancients have left wisdom obtained by dissections.]

    . . .“I have gone back in time,” Yussuf said. “Far as I am able. Into antiquity. Even the Egyptians … were taught it is evil and a disfigurement of the dead to open the abdomen.”
    . . .But . . . when they made their mummies?”
    . . . “They were hypocrites. They paid despised men called pararschistes to sin by making the forbidden initial incision. As soon as they made the cut the pararschistes fled lest they be stoned to death, an acknowledgement of guilt…
    – Noah Gordon, The Physician
The para- part is familiar, and I’d imagine that the schite means “to split”, akin to schism and schizophrenia. Thus a paraschite is one who “cuts the side”.

(And by the way, I believe the stoning of paraschites was purely ceremonial, a ritual formality to punish the “sin” committed.)

Edit: the word can be spelled either pararschite or pararschiste.

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narapoia, "that uneasy feeling that I am unintentionally following somebody".

A condition related to environmental topographagnosia, or vuja de, "that strange feeling you've never been here before"*.


*Props to George Carlin
 
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"Vuja de" brings to mind an alternative direction for bad French phrases modeled on "deja vu."
Deja bu, the feeling of having drunk something before.
Deja lu, the feeling of having read something before.
Deja su, the haunting emotion of having known something before...


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paraschites


The earliest I've found this word is in an historical romance novel, Uarda: A Romance of Ancient Egypt written by Georg Ebers, translated from the German by Clara Bell, 1877.

[Parachites, which appears to be both singular and plural (p. 14 "he is a paraschites"), is defined at the bottom of page 14.

Did paraschites appear in the original German? Was the word coined by Georg Ebers or Clara Bell?

The above link is to Vol. 1. Here's Vol. 2.

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I can only find one use of paraschites not in Uarda and that is on this site: Death and Mummification in Egypt -
quote:
Mummification was performed by the Chief Embalmer dressed in the role of Anubis, the God’s Seal Bearer, a Lector Priest who read spells, the Paraschites who removed the internal organs and minor priests for bandaging and other duties.
Of course, the author may well have picked up the word from Ebers.


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Georg Ebers, translated from the German by Clara Bell, 1877
The earliest I've found in English is in an 1865 work, read in recent reprint:
    1865: Eugene Rimmel, The Book of Perfumes: One of the most curious parts of the performance was that the paraschistes, or dissector, who had to make an incision in the body, ran away as soon as it was done, amid the bitter execrations of all those present, who pelted him with stones, to testify their abhorrence of any one inflicting injury on a human creature, either alive or dead.
The word was apparently coined in a description of mummification written by an ancient Greek writer, Diodorus Siculus. It looks like the French took the term from him before the English did.
 
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Today we honor April Fool’s Day. A burlesque or spoof of a song (an ode) would be a para-ode. That word, in ancient Greek, gave us today’s word.

parody – a literary composition imitating (and esp. one satirizing) another work. Also, by extension: a poor or feeble imitation; a travesty
    It looks like a typical National Geographic cover … . So what's Paris Hilton doing on there? The folks at Harvard Lampoon persuaded employees of one of the most respected magazines to help them ensure their April Fool's parody — with stories on Mongolia's wildest waterparks and "Native Girls Gone Wild" — looked authentic.
    – International Herald Tribune, April 1, 2008
Happy April Fool’s Day!
 
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Any thoughts on why it's in no dictionary, including the OED, and yet it's found in some (though not much) writing. Perhaps it's the "though not much" reason.
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Today we honor April Fool’s Day.


The most notorious of British April Fool's days was arguably in 1957 when the late Richard Dimbelby on Panorama reported:
"…thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied that they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Another good one was In 1977 when The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology.

Other April fool's would be interesting to read, and might light up and activate our 'tickling sticks' (pace Ken Dodd)
 
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It's also sometimes spelled parascheistes. It is common for a Greek ei to be pronounced and written i. It was a sound change that happened late in Classical Greek. Cf. Koine Greek Peilatos for Latin Pilatus.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Oh, those are hilarious, Pearce. Big Grin

I have been extremely busy at work, working all hours of the day and night. This morning as I was rushing around, Shu told me that there was a train accident and that I would have to get off at Davis Street, switch to the elevated, get off at Howard, and switch to the subway, and then walk to work. I was furious that someone would be so stupid to get hit by a train (just kidding...even I'm not that insensitive!). Anyway, I was majorly annoyed for awhile, and then I was relieved to remember it was April Fool's day. I smiled and said, "April Fool, right?" He refused to admit it, but I just thought he was being recalcitrant.

Funny thing was, it was all true. Roll Eyes
 
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The BBC showed footage yesterday of some newly-discovered penguins on an island in the Antactic that have the power of flight. I must say it was impressive, watching those penguins wheeling around the bay. All done with CGI ... Quite a lot of people were fooled, apparently, although, after my initial "Whaaat?" I realised. Cool

They also had a report about greyhound racing on ice, and the small skates that have been developed for their use. Smile


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A new government department came into being yesterday that oversees the quality of the statistics we produce. We had an email from our boss, saying that the department had sent through a cake to celebrate and that it was available in the kitchen. Lots of us assumed it was an April Fool joke, and it wasn't until a few returned to their desks bearing pieces of cake that we realised it was true. Roll Eyes


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Here's a BBC Blog about the flying penguins. Wink


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Originally posted by arnie:
Here's a BBC Blog about the flying penguins. Wink

So, are you cooking up an April fool for 2009 to reveal an even rarer breed of airborne penguins, or other normally earthbound animals, bearing chunks of chocolate cake scavenged from friendly naturalists? Wink
 
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