Oporanthous bulbs + "oporanthy"

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Mon, 27 Aug 2007 12:16:27 PDT
Mark McDonough wrote: “Seems to me we're splitting hairs on a made up word,
as ingenious the "word" may be.  The term "oporanthy" was also used... here
again, presumably another  made up word as I can find no reference to it

Mark, the reason you cannot find a reference to these words elsewhere is
that you are witnessing their birth right here on the PBS discussion list.
And the reason that we’re splitting hairs is the same reason which often
enlivens much postpartum discussion:  we want to be sure who the parents
are! And whether you realize it or not, you are a participating midwife. 

What nuance do you mean to convey by referring to oporanthous as a  “word”
and “made up”? The existence of words and their first usage are coeval.
Their survival is another matter entirely!

The point is, there exists a loosely limited group of bulbs (in the
horticultural sense but of course including corms and other geophytic
growths) for which the term oporanthous bulbs is particularly apropos. That
such a group exists in the minds of gardeners is demonstrated by the quick
response which came from John Grimshaw    - his deft use of the term
hysteranthous to identify these plants makes it clear to me that he
understood immediately what I was proposing. 

And when I say that your wonderful onions might be oporanthous but are not
oporanthous bulbs, the important distinction is not simply that they are or
are not bulbs but rather that they are not hysteranthous. 

And what’s wrong with “made up” words? Weren’t all words ultimately “made
up” by someone? John’s use of oporanthy is both expected and fully
consistent with standard word usage. 

To quibble about these forms is little different than those spell-check
programs which do not recognize the plurals or possessive forms of words.
Surely one would not avoid a word simply because it is not authorized by
some spell-check program? 

The use of quotes on the word "word" seems so arch. 

When children learn words, most learn them one by one. As their language
skills improve, they learn how to form and relate the various forms a word
can take. To any skilled user of the language, the existence of the basic
form is an invitation to exploit the full panoply of forms – not all of
which make it into the standard dictionaries.

Oproanthous, oporanthy. oporanthic, oporanth... is it really necessary to
explain these and the many other related forms once the basic concept is

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where most of my oporanths
are not up yet. 

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
BLOG! http://mcwort.blogspot.com/
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

More information about the pbs mailing list