aeuploids/aneuploids; was: Re: double-flowered tiger lily;was: Re: [pbs] Bulb Odds and ends

Jim McKenney
Tue, 13 Jul 2004 11:03:44 PDT
At 01:08 PM 7/13/2004 -0500, Jim Shields wrote:

>I'll bite on the aeuploid/aneuploid thing -- I've never seen the "aeuploid" 
>spelling anywhere except in your message. 

Nor have I, except in my own notebooks. 

>Tell us about it, please.

With pleasure. VBG!

Here's the deal. The spelling aneuploid- (where the - represents an ending
appropriate to the language in question) is fine for those languages in
which the combination eu has a vowel sound. 

However, in English, eu at the beginning of a word has a consonant sound.
The same is generally true of the letter u at the beginning of words in
English: it does not usually have a vowel sound. 

The usual notions of euphony in English expect, for instance, the
indefinite article to change from "a" before a consonant sound to "an"
before a vowel sound. Thus, most of us say "a union", "a euphemism" and so
on rather than "an union" or "an euphemism".

[Those taught this rule incorrectly as "a" before a consonant and "an"
before a vowel must have trouble when they apply the "rule" by rote to
those words beginning with the consonantal "u". I occasionally hear people
doing this. I've even encountered people who not only cling to this
practice but defend it.]

Note that the "rule" is that the change is determined not by the presence
of a vowel or a consonant, but rather by the presence of a vowel sound or a
consonant sound. 

The same rule prevailed in classical languages. In this case, the "a" is
not the indefinite article but rather something sometimes called the
"privative a" - because it is used to indicate the lack of something. In
the classical languages, eu (initial or not) had a vowel sound. Thus, when
"a" was placed before a word beginning with "eu" the result was "aneu". 

In English we have this dopey system where the classical spelling rules are
applied to English by rote by people who evidently don't understand or
respect  the underlying principles. In English, a + initial eu gives aeu
because eu in this case has a consonant sound - thus aeuploid, not aneuploid. 

This whole issue is a good example of another theme which has been treated
in an earlier rant: the preoccupation people have with the way things look
(in this case, "by rote" rules of spelling). 

Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I realize I'll be the
only one using clone in its original sense and saying and spelling
aeuploid; I don't get it, why don't people understand me?  


>We are probably all just too polite to mention these little 
>problems......<VBG>   Besides,  the Swiss spelling is "Strubelpeter" 
>according to my Swiss wife, who grew up in Switzerland and  should know.  I 
>would have guessed "Strüwelpeter" myself.
>I'll bite on the aeuploid/aneuploid thing -- I've never seen the "aeuploid" 
>spelling anywhere except in your message.  Tell us about it, please.
>Jim Shields
>At 11:28 AM 7/13/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>>Well, it turns out that Streuwelpeter/Stuwwelpeter was not the only slip of
>>the typing fingers in that post.
>>When I merrily poked fun at the "euphonically challenged  " who use the
>>spelling aneupolids, I was a bit orthographically challenged myself: I
>>should have typed "aneuploids".
>>Isn't any one reading these posts? I've given all of you three
>>opportunities (the Streuwelpeter/Stuwwelpeter thing, the misspelling
>>aneupolid, and catchiest of all the aeuploid/aneuploid issue) to jump in
>>and straighten me out, and no one has taken any of them!
>>I'll attribute it to aestival lassitude.
>>Someone please at least take the bait on the aeuploid/aneuploid thing so I
>>can do my piece on that.
>>Jim McKenney
>>Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the miasma has kept me
>>in for the last few days.
>Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
>P.O. Box 92              WWW:
>Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
>Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA
>pbs mailing list

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